Having lived in the Middle East for a number of years, where kebabs are dinner rather than post-pub soakage, I have a finely tuned preference for how I like mine, and it is not the rotating cylinder of boiled grey matter, which is a pre-cooked composite of meats.
There are, of course, different types of kebabs, and many of the words are used interchangeably, but in broad strokes, a kebab refers to meat that has been grilled. A doner and shawarma are much the same, they are grilled meat in wraps, one being the original from Turkey, the other an Arabian adaptation.
Layers of marinated, thinly sliced meat are stacked on a vertical spit, interspersed with fine layers of fat which render slowly, keeping the inside from drying out and encouraging a nice bit of char on the outside. And then there’s the flatbread. It should be made in-house, and yes, you really do need to see that dough being slapped on the inside of a tandoor oven before you consider parting with your hard earned cash.
Which brings me to Reyna Mediterranean Grill, the shiny new iteration of what used to be Iskander on Dublin’s Dame Street, under new ownership. The red shop front is gone, large windows offer a view right into the open kitchen, where chicken and lamb doner are being grilled, a charcoal grill is laden with flat skewers of shish kebab, and traditional pide flatbread is being cooked to order. Inside, the tiles have been removed, the walls are painted a vibrant Izmir blue, there are wooden tables and chairs, and while it’s not a space you will be lingering in for hours, it is bright and smart.
A backlit menu on the wall offers plenty of choices: most popular, the grill, vegetarian, dürüm (which are Turkish wraps), kebab bowls and sides and drinks. You order from the counter and your meal is ready for collection when your buzzer beeps.
The mixed mezze plate (€9.50) is generous. The falafel are nicely made, crisp on the outside and not too crumbly inside, with a balance of cumin, garlic and a little bit of heat. They’re delicious dipped in cacik, a yoghurt and cucumber dip. Turkish-style hummus, I discover, does not have tahini, and here it has quite a bit of texture to it. The plate also includes cubed aubergine, black olives (stones in, always a good sign), feta cheese and some pickled chillies for the brave.
Wanting to get a good sense of what’s on offer, we have opted for the mixed doner (€11), which includes chicken and lamb, the lamb shish (€12.50) and fries (€3) for good measure, as everyone seems to have them. It turns out to be a lot of food.
I like my doner on open flatbread rather than wrapped so that I can enjoy the different components individually. There is plenty of char on the meat and the lamb in particular has a good depth of flavour, a result of the Maillard reaction on the meat and I’d imagine the fact that it’s a more mature animal than your usual spring lamb.
The chicken has been marinated for just the right length of time, so it’s juicy rather than woolly and tastes of lemon, garlic and spices. It comes with plenty of tomato sauce, less spicy than I’d expect, but chilli flakes are on hand if you’d like more heat. There’s a load of wonderfully addictive garlic sauce, and a mix of lettuce, tomatoes and onions.
The shish kebab comes with mildly spiced coarse bulgar, a flame-grilled red chilli and the same set up of lettuce and tomato. A little more flame on the meat would have been good, the fattier chunks of lamb have fared better with the fat singed to a crisp. And then, of course, the chips. I can see why everyone orders them. I wouldn’t imagine that they’re handcut, but they are still a lovely indulgence – skinny, super crispy, lightly dusted with mild red pepper and perfect for dunking into garlic sauce.
We finish off with a simple baklava (€5) and complimentary Turkish tea. Reyna is not somewhere for a big night out, but it’s a good spot for a casual bite. There is plenty to like, and I could definitely see myself returning to try the charcoal grilled lamb ribs and the Adana, which is a spiced minced meat, grilled on a flat skewer.
Dinner for two with two soft drinks and one dessert was €44.90.
Verdict: 7.5/10, a great new kebab shop that's worth a visit
Facilities: Smart and clean
Food provenance: Not mentioned
Music: Turkish, not too loud
Vegetarian options: Yes, but no grilled vegetables
Wheelchair access: Accessible, but no accessible toilet