There’s undoubtedly a market in Glasgow for the likes of Doner Haus. It might not exactly be an earth-shattering revelation but yes: people are fond of bread and meat. And if you’ve got a decent twist on it then all the better. Doner Haus is a bit of a queer fish. It presents as sleek, shiny and established but it’s actually from the fledgling Bavava restaurant group founded by Glasgow chef Sanjeev Sanghera (of India Quay). Their portfolio currently consists of Doner Haus (Sunderland and Glasgow) and the Punjabi-inspired Papadoms (Sunderland). So what we have is a Scottish restaurant brand trying to reproduce the best kebabs that Berlin has to offer.
Berlin? Kebabs? Well, yes. Germany, and Berlin in particular, is home to a large Turkish community, and where you have Turks you have Turkish food. Stir that up with some local flavour and a bit of nous from one Kadir Nurman and you get a kebab that starts off in Istanbul and arrives in Glasgow via Berlin.
Doner Haus has taken up residence in the massive glass barn on the corner of West Nile and West Regent Streets that once housed the laughable Giraffe Cafe. It’s the kind of location that’s immediately off-putting: all windows and exposed air ducts in lieu of actual interior design. Once inside it’s actually reasonably cosy. Not somewhere I’d spend hours in but marginally better than an airport departure lounge. Greeted and seated, we’re treated to the now customary explanation of the menu before ordering. I plump for the Mustafa while his nibs goes for the schwarma teller (literally schwarma plate), with an order of falafel bites to share.
The Mustafa is a pida flatbread filled with chicken schwarma, mixed salad, chargrilled vegetables, mint and coriander. It comes lovingly drizzled with chilli and garlic sauces and finished with crumbled feta. It was thoughtfully presented in a special little V-shaped holder that held it together nicely and made it easy to pick up. There was a lot to like about it. The bread was fresh and yielding and the chicken had great spice and seasoning. It was unfortunate that the feta was such an overpowering presence and that something in there (it may have been the chilli sauce or harissa seasoning) had a slightly strange, almost cinnamony flavour. The falafel bites were decent; super crunchy and not too dry in the middle with good seasoning and a zingy dipping sauce.
Despite attempts to spruce it up, the shwarma teller resembled something you might order at the end of a long night in the pub. And maybe that’s the idea. A bed of skin-on fries topped with chicken schwarma, mozzarella and cheddar, onions, garlic sauce and harissa seasoning. It tasted alright and staved off hunger but it was nothing to shout about. And that may be the problem with the food here. Nothing about this visit was exciting enough to warrant a return trip. In fact the whole place feels a bit like an exercise in focus-group restaurant design.
I completely forgot to photograph my receipt but the bill wasn’t out of the ordinary. Two mains, two soft drinks and a side were around £30. Not outrageous but those mains hovering around and just over a tenner are pushing it slightly.
85 West Nile St
Different take on the doner kebab
Fast and efficient service
Food not particularly exciting