Now that the really quite good Turkish restaurant Tike has bitten the dust I’ve been eager to find a replacement. I had heard good things about Haz Premier Place so thought it worth a try. Alas the food turned out to be anodyne industrial slop of the most mind-warpingly lacklustre variety. If it were not for the excellent company, in the form of reader Dan Richardson, I would have been reduced to stabbing my eyes with a fork just so that food-induced sensory deprivation did not drive me even more insane. Let me be clear on this point, the food wasn’t bad but rather stunningly soporific, banal and vapid. Since being tedious is more offensive than being offensive by the end of the meal I had come to execrate and loathe those responsible for this woeful display of staggering dullness.
When I walked in I was encouraged by the serious looking fellows sweating over the charcoal grill – a charcoal grill can make tasty food. I noticed that most of the tables were arranged to accommodate huge parties but I failed to draw the conclusion that this could well result in the food being churned out institutional-style to cater for large numbers of undiscerning diners, with no love or care being shown to any dish. If I’d paid enough attention to this I’d have legged it immediately.
I sat down and perused the menu and as I read I became charged with a sense of despondency. Turkish food is, or rather can be, vibrant and exciting yet this menu had nothing on it which sounded even remotely engaging, it was simply a bland list of food. Dan turned up at this point and told me he’d never tried serious Turkish food before; I was mortified that I had bought him to such a drab, soulless venue for his first taste of what was clearly going to be a pale shadow of the fine food of that country.
By this early point in the proceedings I had decided the only way of getting any interest out of the meal was to get outrageously drunk and so was downing the beers as quickly as I could manage. Sadly I am not a great beer drinker, I find the volume of the stuff is just too great to drink impressively vast quantities very quickly. Consequently, I was not drunk enough to misbehave and have fun, instead I had to face the meal largely un-medicated. First of all we shared some meze (little plates of starters):
They don’t look bad do they? But then again, they also don’t look even remotely interesting. I ploughed through the dried out falafel, insipid houmous and lifeless salad affairs with grim determination, hoping at the very least that there might be something actively vile that I could make a scene about and so be able to storm out of the restaurant in a fury, but it was all so ponderously pedestrian.
When plodding through my turgid main course I felt torn between sinking to the floor in tears or going to the grill and slapping the cooks, just so they had an experience with more character than the wearisome, woeful food they made. I recall from my time at Oxford that the kofte kebabs from Ahmed’s ‘bab van which parked outside University college at night were stratospherically more interesting than this. Moreover, the food poisoning that regularly followed dinner at Ahmed’s was probably more enjoyable than this neutral, tedious attempt at food – at least you know you are alive and having an experience when your guts are tying themselves in knots.
Then, by way of light relief, there was Dan’s main course. We are told the first bite is with the eye so those of us puerile enough to find bodily functions hilarious will no doubt be sniggering when looking at this which, lets face it, looks like a pool of congealed vomit. Dan manfully struggled through it in one of the most profound displays of politeness I have ever seen.
There is no one on Earth who deserves to eat such pant-wettingly prosaic food. I feel personally offended that Haz Premier Place not only had the gall to place such tiresome food in front of me but then had the bare-faced cheek to demand some of my extremely limited funds for doing so. I really did not think it was possible for Turkish food to be so stunningly lumbering, so I suppose Haz deserve some kudos for opening my eyes to new horizons of boredom. That seems a poor target to be aiming for, so bad show Haz. All that remains for me to do say about this meal of amazing tedium is that I am terribly sorry, Dan, I really did not have any idea it could be so eye-wateringly uninteresting.
Contact details: Haz Premier Place, 9 Cutler Street, E1 7DJ Telephone: 020 7929 7923.