TELL you what. It’s been a while. Since I stood at a counter, watched food grilling, soaking up the smells and sizzles of real meat drizzling deliciously onto searing charcoal. And tried desperately to get served.

I may have lost my touch. Or I may be invisible. After all I am the only customer in here.

Yes, that guy behind the counter in an all-white outfit with a Joe 90 cap is a study in goddam perpetual motion. Banking that glowing charcoal on the open grill, twisting skewers after skewer of carmelising meat, popping balls of dough to be palm flattened into pide then fired into the oven beside, flipping lids on salads, wrapping and bagging orders.

And all the time carrying out a non-stop conversation with another guy hanging over the end of the counter who I at first take to be a delivery driver: Can’t be as they don’t do deliveries.

Then it’s definitely just me: the invisible fat man. Let’s just say there ain’t any eye contact whatsoever, in any shape or style, coming my way for a excruciatingly long time. And when it finally does then wham, bam, halfway through me stuttering and stammering out the words ispanaki peynirli pide those pide in the oven will puff like golden pillows, a waft of toasted sesame will fill the air like a trumpet blast and the guy will bolt off to get to the oven. And to resume his bloody conversation.

Aargh, as they used to say in all the good comics.

Normal eye contact – therefore absolutely none – will now be fully resumed. Hey, the Istanbul has never been speedy but that’s been on the wholly acceptable grounds that everything right down to those pita-like pides, the long, pillowy dough of the lahmacun, the very meat itself is properly cooked to order.

And that’s why this place is culinary gold.

We get that. But it has always been run like clockwork, a little Turkish man behind the counter, that’s him with his photo on the menu on the counter, marshalling the troops, cracking the whip, keeping it all moving, making eye contact with every customer. But he isn’t here tonight. And it’s kinda hopeless.

There’s just me, the counter guy, the server guy, and another two through the back making dough, turning it into balls, flattening them onto trays to go into the oven. It will take one of them to come through, then for me to wave like a loonball from my position at the door, for them to realise that, no, that ispanaki wasn’t all I wanted; an adana too please, and a lahmacun.

Then my order will be finally completed and the long wait will begin again. Out on the cold, wet Govan street, of course, it being socially distanced.

Later, when explaining at home why it took so long I will blame lockdown. The lack of human contact, masked impersonal service, customers now dragooned like grateful sheep, faces hidden, smiles unnecessary.

And yet there’s the food, to be eaten at home. An adana in pide, grilled to a golden brown, moist inside, the meat redolent with an actual genuine charcoal grill flavour, to be stuffed into one of those puffed freshly baked pide. The Istanbul’s salad of shredded, tangily dressed, onion and cabbage and tomato, rammed in there too.

Honestly, it’s almost a religious experience. That lahmacun is, say, two feet long, rolled, the dough still soft in places, layers of thinly spread lamb mince, punchy fresh onion and a spicy saucey dressing turning it into a Swiss roll of savoury delights.

We have a couple of bean salads with parsley and spices on the side, that ispanaki has been pre-sliced too but still looks like an enormous pizza.

The food is good, the kebab fabulous, almost worth the interruption of the drive home from work, and the long, slow wait.

But next time, because there will be a next time. I’ll phone in the order and collect.


7 Paisley Road West


G51 1LF

0141 429 1232

MENU: Glasgow’s proper Turkish kebab shop may serve donners and burgers but it’s the freshly made pide, the charcoal grilled meats and the lahmacun that make it a bit special. 5/5

SERVICE: Hopeless when I was there. Best to phone first and collect which is not easy as there seems to be no internet presence or menu. 2/5

ATMOSPHERE: There’s a charcoal grill being lovingly worked, pides being made from scratch and pulled from an oven in a gust of toasted sesame. It’s all happening. 3/5

PRICE: Still amazingly good value, adana kebabs start at £4.80, lahmacun a staggeringly low £5. 5/5

FOOD: The culinary gold is in the simple stuff they make from scratch which is everything in their pide wrapped kebabs. Fabulous. 8/10