The doners are a downer at German Doner Kebab, says Gaby Soutar.

Some restaurants have a soft opening, this place had a very hard one.

I passed it on the bus on the first night, and it was stowed out, with a red carpet and fire jugglers on the pavement.

According to the press release, one of the actors from Peaky Blinders – Packy Lee aka Johnny Dogs – had been invited to the grand launch, though I’m not sure I’d recognise him without his flat cap.

It’s a tricky job to make kebabs on Lothian Road seem glamorous, but this franchise is trying its best. Anyway, like Cinderella past midnight, it’s an ordinary fast food joint when we visit on a weekend.

Behind the counter, there are chicken and beef doners, rotating slowly like balletic hippos, and it’s done out in the grey and orange livery of their original Berlin branch, which opened in 1989.
Order up at the till, and they bring it to your table.

I try The Original German Doner Kebab (£5.99, or £7.99 as part of a meal with fries and a drink).

Mine is the package deal version, with an upgrade to cheesy fries (50p) and I go for an ayran– the Turkish salty yogurt drink. You choose your meat – chicken, beef or my choice of mixed.

My tray arrived swiftly, but I’m underwhelmed.

There’s a rigid and waffle-y toasted sesame bread, a bit like two pieces of office ceiling tile, as well as loads of chopped lettuce, raw white onion and red cabbage. Inside are almond-shaped slices of beef, and strangely shiny chicken coils, like ribbons when you run a scissor edge across them.

It’s clear that most of the flavour is in their Secret Sauces. There’s a garlicky one, a tomatoey tangy hot affair and a yogurt version.

They come with almost everything and since they are quite thick and served in little plastic pots, it’s tricky to decant or transfer them to your kebab.

I would have dipped a chip into them, but my cheesy fries are grim – pale, muskily scented and with a pulpy blanket of orange cheese.

Our doner quesadilla (£4.99), is better, with flattened triangles of the waffle bread – toasted for a tyre print effect – each containing cheese, plasters of meat, jalapenos and onions.

The best of our dishes is probably the bolster of lahmacun (£5.99), rolled and swaddled in branded paper and foil, but with the addition of something sweet running through the same ingredients that were in my kebab, as well as minced beef and tomato.

We try the chicken version of their doner spring rolls (£1.99), and get two, both with crunchy filo pastry and spicy centres. There are also sandpapery breadcrumb-coated and gummy-centred chilli cheese bites (£2.99), which could have come out of Iceland’s freezer section.

We’re not aware of any dessert action, so make a run for it to try the brand new Nice Times Bakery nearby, at 147 Morrison Street. After the grey and orange of the fast food joint, our eyes are soothed by this venue’s Barbara Cartland-esque pastel tones.

If there was a chaise longue, I would swoon onto it and start dictating the rest of this review, and maybe add a bit of romance between me and a burly baker. We could recreate the Ghost scene, except with kneading.

Anyway, it’s owned by the team behind my other favourite cafe, Lovecrumbs on Edinburgh’s West Port and St Stephen Street.

We’re sold by the sample cubes of lovely gummy peanut butter brownies, mottled with the same hues as Bernese Mountain Dogs. Oh yes please, we’ll take a whole one of those (£3.40).

And to continue the theme, we try a chocolate crinkle cookie (£3), thickly sandwiched with more Sunpatty goodness. There’s also a coffee and praline loaf (£3.20), with a thick and nut crumbled icing roof, and a vegan cinnabun (£2.50), which features cinnamony strata and pure white icing.

I’m much happier here than I was at the German Doner Kebab place.

They may not have fireworks, stilt walkers and Peaky Blinders, but sometimes it’s the quiet ones you really have to watch out for.

German Doner Kebab Edinburgh

85-87 Lothian Road, Edinburgh (0131-228 8555, www.germandonerkebab.com)

German Doner Kebab, Edinburgh, restaurant review
Food50%
Ambience60%
55%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)
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About The Author

Gaby Soutar

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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