Peter Morrell dispels the myth that south of the river is a culinary desert
It starts at Borough Market and just keeps on going, there is vibrant food scene across the length and breadth of south London.
According to the Sunday Times Beckenham in south London is one of the most desirable places to live in the capital. One of its claims to fame is that David Bowie’s musical performance career was born in the Three Tuns pub in the High Street. He then went on to organised a free music festival in the local park, using the Victorian band stand as the stage.
Latterly it has also become a go to destination for people looking for vibrant bars and good restaurants. The High Street has a wide range of restaurants and the bulk of them are independent rather than chains.
Spoiled for choice recently I ate in The Lokanta, the new sibling of the long established, and highly successful Deli Nene, just around the corner. It bills itself as Mediterranean, with a big emphasis on the eastern end of the sea. The décor is bright and modern, and I was impressed with the very comfy chairs. Despite it being a Sunday, there were quite a few diners, making the atmosphere quite buzzy.
The starters were a good selection of hot and cold mezes, six cold ones for £20 was an appealing offer, so we chose hummus, taramasalata, spicy vegan balls, beetroot and feta salad, stuffed vine leaves, and spicy chopped salad. For good measure we threw in Kibbeh from the hot mezesection.
All the food was good, it was fresh and attractively presented. Stand outs were the Kibbeh, made with a combination of ground meat, fine bulgur wheat, and Middle Eastern spices. Small balls of the mixture are deep fried. Biting through the crunchy shell revealed a yielding and flavourful interior.
The spicy vegan balls were also a delight, they are one of the most popular street foods in Turkey. Fine bulgur wheat, pepper, tomato, onion, garlic, and a mixture of herbs and spices are served with lettuce leaves to be wrapped in.
Also worth a mention was the salad, a mouth-watering mix of roasted beetroot, garlic, olive oil, dill, celery. and vinegar, topped with feta cheese.
The mains menu had numerous interesting dishes. The Anatolian specials section had hearty options like lamb shanks, and shepherd’s lamb. The charcoal grill section had a wide range of popular dishes. I had the adana kebab, a skewer of tender lamb mince, blended with special seasoning and Anatolian herbs, and my dining companion had the lamb shish, marinated cubes of meat.
We both enjoyed these, my adana, had lots of flavour, and the lamb was very tender. The portion sizes were very big, so we hadn’t left room for a slice of baklava as the dessert.
A Mythos Greek beer to start and a couple of glasses of red wine made this an ideal meal.
The service team were friendly and efficient, the décor and the ambience pleasing, and the food delicious. This all proves that even if there is a culinary desert in south London, The Lokanta is a welcoming oasis.
166 High Street
Kent BR3 1EW