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The Capital 1 restaurant is located on Fore Street, at Edmonton Green, in North London, overlooking the parking lot of an Asda store, and just metres from the railway/bus station with the same name. Not the prettiest location and tourists will rarely find their way here, unless they are staying in the Travelodge opposite side. The Capital 1 is the older one of a chain of 2 Turkish restaurants. The second Capitol has opened recently and is located just a few hundred metres down south on the same street.
The Capital 1
I’ll not even try to sell you this place as a posh restaurant, or anything special when it comes to looks and design. It isn’t and you can find hundreds, if not thousands of small restaurants like this all over London: A single shop front with a large window giving view into the restaurant, and, even more importantly, on the display of “daily specials” in the window and the obligatory doner kebab grill station, which are both supposed to attract the casual passer-by and take-away customer. What clearly distinguishes this restaurant from its neighbours on Fore Street is that it is always busy. In the Capital 1 always lots of the tables are occupied and it is not unusual that guests are queuing and waiting until a table becomes available while in the neighbouring eateries many tables are still empty.
Once you enter you will be greeted by the beautiful aroma of the kebabs – and the friendly and always smiling staff behind the counter who are busy cutting doner or grilling meat. As it is common in such places you can see the kitchen, which in the case of the Capital 1 is tiny and brimming with activity. There seem to be too many people working in there for the space that is available and I often wonder how they cope with the heat of the grills, the little space they have and the fact that they are busy non-stop. You are required to wait for a server who will appear within seconds and escort you to a free table. In the case that all tables are taken you will be informed how long approximately you will need to wait. We’ve never had to wait for more than 10 minutes which is all the better as there isn’t really enough space to wait comfortably. The restaurant is not very big anyway and they only provide a chair right next to the entrance door for those who have to wait. If there is more than one of you, only one will sit, and if it is cold outside you will get the full gust of cold air every time the door opens. So it’s a good thing that waiting times are generally not long …
Once at the table you will get your menus and have time to take in the décor. There are tablecloths which are covered with money from all around the world which again is covered by glass to keep
the bills in place (and safe from being taken). At least the table cloth will stay clean this way and the kids are having fun guessing from which countries the bills come from. Personally I am not keen on tablecloth in restaurants, no matter if covered by money/glass/whatever and would prefer a nice smooth wooden surface that will be wiped clean after each guest leaves. However, their collection of currencies covers more or less the whole world and they do have some pretty exotic monies lying around. The kids really will have fun with this, it’s just me being a bit of a spoilsport (and the glass plate can be wiped clean easily too).
They have high-chairs for families with small children but no changing table and there wouldn't be any space for one.
There is a selection of hot and cold meze to choose from which include humus, taramasalata, kisir (bulgur wheat salad), cacik (yogurt with cucumber, garlic and mint), grilled halloumi cheese and so on. We usually don’t bother and my niggle here is that there isn’t a starter combo available. To order meze one by one, each at around £3 per portion, can be ridiculously pricey.
They also offer soups and my husband really likes their lentil soup. The soup is served in a large bowl, accompanied not only by bread but also a plate full of humus and a plate full of salad, radish, olives and hot peppers. For me this would easily serve as a main course and he normally shares with Melis, our younger daughter, who is crazy about lentil soup, while we all tug into the greens. A soup is £3 and thus could be a cheap and healthy lunch or dinner for one.
The main courses consist of mainly meat dishes such as lamb or chicken doner, shish kebab (grilled meat on a skewer), koefte kebab (meatballs), lamb chops or ribs, quails, liver or chicken wings. They do have one or two warm vegetable dishes, apart from the lentil soup, which are made like stew. Just to make sure, ask twice if there really is no meat in it! Further you can choose from Lahmacun (Turkish pizza with mince meat topping) and pides which come in a variety of fillings.
The best offer on the menu in my opinion are their “mixed” platters and we always opt for their “Chef’s special”. There are larger and smaller versions available, this just suits us and is about as much as we can manage.
The dining experience
If you order this beauty you will first get a huge plate full of salad, a portion of cacik and a portion of grilled onion salad to start your meal. This comes served with delicious pitta bread. I have no clue what spice mix they sprinkle on their pitta bread before grilling it but it is so good you’ll want to lick your fingers! The onion salad is something I’ve never had before in my life, and after living in Northern Cyprus for several years I’ve been to more than just a fair share of Turkish restaurants. It is delicious and absolutely more-ish. If they’d tell me the recipe I could eat that every day!
This will be followed by the platter itself which can only be described as “huge”. I guess the reason why they only give you small plates to pile your food onto is that there really would be not enough space for larger ones on the table. The platter is covered with a bed of rice which then is laden with the meats. There will be good portions of chicken and lamb doner which mix nicely with the rice. Apart from that there are pieces of lamb and chicken shish kebab, succulent and cooked to perfection, the chicken again smothered in a mouth-watering marinade. The kofte (lamb meatballs grilled on a skewer) are a bit on the spicy side and our older daughter doesn’t like them. She’s a bit funny with minced meat but for that loves the lamb ribs which otherwise only I like. We have no problem sharing the lot. Not to forget the chicken wings and grilled tomato halves … Normally the Chef’s Special would also include a portion of liver. I don’t eat liver and get sick from the smell, the kids and my husband are also not keen on it, so we ask them to leave that out and just give us a bit more of something else. We’ve never tried the original portion with the liver and so can’t vouch that they do, but there is really enough on the table to feed all of us to the rim and I have no reason to doubt them.
The one thing we always order on top of the Chef’s Special is a portion of chips. We do not do that because there wouldn’t be enough to fill us without it. God forbid, no - you usually can roll us once we are done eating! It’s just that we’ve tried their chips once when a relative joined us and we had to make things go a bit further, and all agreed that these are the best chips we’ve ever been served anywhere in the UK so far.
Bread will be refilled regularly and you’ll also be asked if you want to order more drinks if they see that your glass is empty. They are licensed and offer beer (Efes) and a few wines. We have a 1 hour journey after leaving so always opt for soft drinks, Ayran (yogurt drink) is especially popular with us. There are no aperitifs or digestives available, this is clearly not a restaurant for those who love their alcohol, but you will be offered tea or Turkish coffee after your meal. This will be served with a small sweet and is free of charge.
So now that you are well fed and watered it is time to sit down and let it all sink in… I really do love this restaurant, I love good food, so hell yes I do love the
Pictures of Capital 1, London
Capital 1, London, Onion Salad
place – but even I have to admit that the décor is not exactly stylish, as a matter of fact, it is rather hideous. It’s not just the thick table cloth with the bills under the glass cover, it’s the whole room. The mirrors and the Santa Claus who is on-site all year, in between a wealth of “Blue Eyes”, a plastic flamingo, crocheted pieces of art on walls which are clad in rather stained wood, coins glued to wall panels, plastic flowers and similar. It’s really not very pleasing on the eye and almost comical, depending where you are sitting. Quite a bit of the eating will be done with the hands instead of the cutlery so latest after eating you will need to visit the rest rooms to wash your hands. The restaurant is small and there is a door to the left for the girls and a door to the right for the gents – and a sink in the middle for all to share. The toilets are clean but could do with a bit of TLC and the water pressure sometimes doesn’t seem to be up to do the job, and the shared sink does look grubby at times. Apart from that the restaurant is very clean, and the staff is so friendly and nice that the décor doesn’t really matter. It starts to grow on you, just like the living room of that elderly relative which is incredibly dated and cluttered by a lifetime of much-loved clutter and memorabilia.
Can there be more than one Capital ?
As mentioned earlier, they have opened their second restaurant recently. The Capital 2 is much more upmarket than the original place we are visiting.I've seen the place from outside, we even popped our heads inside, but haven't eaten there, yet. It is definitely much more pleasing on the eye, and larger too. Brightly lit it was when we checked it, very brightly. Too bright for our taste and with the combination of space and light the room seemed to lack the coziness, warmth and comfort of the smaller restaurant. For us reason to drive up the street and return to the Capital we love. The menu at Capital 2 is slightly different too, and more expensive than Capital 1 it is also, although still rather cheap for London standards. I like the menu at Capital 1, I like their prices and we all have got used to the décor since long. I can’t say anything about the quality of the food but could imagine that it is the same standard. So this would be an option if you need a larger space for a celebration - or do want to impress a special someone on a first night out - and still want to enjoy there food.
An unpretentious restaurant in a not very attractive neighbourhood that serves food that is to die for sums it up. If I had to find one reason to recommend a visit to Edmonton to anyone – this would be it! During our last visit we paid £29 for a lentil soup, the Chef’s special, a portion of chips and 6 soft drinks – that is less than a dinner at Pizza Hut for the four of us. Which one would you choose?