Why do we all want a barista who knows our order? Is it because of Friends? Is this the other Friends legacy, after the feathered hair one? It is tragic, honestly. But then so are we.
I moved out of Clapton at the end of last year, and despite now being eight months deep into living with my parents in Watford, when I go to or through Clapton, I don’t yearn for it. That chapter became untenable as rapidly as the corner shop’s organic aisle expanded. As the ravishing new nut butter blends displaced Sun Pat, so the shonky Victorian houses sold for one point five million pounds, a good few k over asking.
The one thing I yearn for is the place where the baristas knew my order. And when I say baristas, I mean the guys in the Turkish restaurant Numara Bos Cirrik II. I don’t even mind that they reserved their big jolly handshakes for my husband because of “masculinity”. The biggest, jolliest handshake you can give me is a plate of your crispest courgette fritters, hot and smothered with yoghurt, quickly, before anything else happens – don’t even try to converse with me. And of course I’ll have a glass of red wine while he has a beer (masc-u-lin-it-y).
Nothing is free these days – sometimes not even bread. But at Numara Bos Cirrik II the best bits of the dinner are free. The blackened onion slivers, sour and sweet with pomegranate, showered with parsley – free. The green salad, vivid and bounteous with pickled red cabbage and grated carrot – free. The squares of Turkish bread, salty and rich from close contact with lamb fat, straight off the grill top – knock yourself out.
And that’s before you’ve started dinner, which is – you know – whatever’s your thing. Chicken wings, lamb chops, yogurtlu sis. On big, inexplicably oblong plates that fill the table and my heart. Numara Bos Cirrik gave me what I expected and what I hoped for every time I showed my face.
It’s where we went after a bad day or a good day or a medium day. It’s where we went for lunch or dinner, lunch and dinner. It’s where we picked up lahmacuns stuffed with salad and hot sauce on the way home in the rain – the greatest meal in London – for £2.
If Clapton was “home”, then it was mostly Numara Bos Cirrik II’s fault.
P.S. If your first basket of bread isn’t glisteny with lamb fat, you can completely ignore it and they’ll bring a proper one as soon as the thing fires up. You just have to believe.