The Boss Kebab, Shedfield | Takeaway review
The Dish Detective would like to take this opportunity to apologise to huge swathes of the world, on behalf of most of the UK.
It's embarrassing, but really we – as a culinary culture – ought to have known better.
Yes, we have adopted and welcomed different cuisines into our lifestyle. Every high street, food market and city centre is testament to that. It’s wonderful, and we’re all the better off for it.
Things that would have seemed impossibly exotic in the 1980s and even much of the 1990s (at least to these tastebuds) such as Thai green curry and Japanese noodle dishes are now par for the course everywhere.
But still. Why do we associate some region’s foods with getting tanked? India and Bangladesh, sorry for making out for years that the rules of eating a curry included having to go to the pub for three hours first. We see now that is not obligatory. Nothing wrong with a proper session – but you can have a curry at 7.30pm, not 10.30pm if you want and – here’s the thing – it still tastes good. And it doesn’t have to be, ahem, a quilt-flapper. We don’t always need to go the Phall Monty.
But what's worse is the reputation that the kebab has been given. It’s not even a post-pub food, it’s the post-club meal, left on pavements at 2am (sometimes pre and sometimes mid-digestion). It’s shorthand for drunkenness and bad behaviour. It’s equated to unhealthiness and vice.
So sorry Turkey, and large parts of the Middle East. When you think about it, this is really unfair. Kebabs are often grilled meat. They contain salad. They are a perfectly acceptable meal. And yet we saddle them with the whiff of the Friday night smash-up.
The Dish Detective is feeling very defensive about kebabs at the moment, having just – as we type this – eaten a delicious one bought from the side of the road. The modern-day ‘heard it on the grapevine’ (in reality our other half saw a Facebook post mentioning it) said that a new van had rocked up in Shedfield – on the face of it, an unlikely place for fast food to find a home. The Dish Detective was in the area, and so after stocking up on cash from the ATM in Wickham Square, went to track it down.
Turns out the modern-day grapevine was right. If you’re coming out of Wickham, it’s in a layby on the left after you’ve gone past the Botley turn. The Dish Detective visited at dusk and had we not been looking out for it, we could have overshot because it was set up that night facing the field to the left, not the road.
A chat with the friendly proprietor reveals that he’s moved up from Stubbington, and that he’s only four days in at his new home, but says it’s going well. There aren’t many kebab places in the area (the well-established trailer further up the road at Bishop’s Waltham aside) so he’s got quite a decent patch.
The Dish Detective is ordering for three people and goes for two large chicken shishes (£8.50 each), and obviously all the salad and chilli sauce as that’s the rules. We also order a small lamb shish (£7) and a couple of portions of large chips (£3). There’s plenty on offer from kebabs, wraps, burgers and even a tray of donor meat – if that’s your thing.
We’re not going to rhapsodise and claim this is Michelin star-worthy cooking because it isn’t – it’s a bloke cooking in a van on a provincial A-road. But it’s quality meat, it’s fresh salad, it’s chilli sauce that warms you up but doesn’t kill you and the pitta is sound too.
It's all the things that kebabs stereotypically are not. But it’s great. If there’s one thing the past year has taught us, it’s that days and weeks can roll past quickly (it's always bin day, as the Dish Detective’s mother put it the other day). Heaven knows we’ve needed the occasional treat to break the monotony of lockdown life – it turns out that reclaiming the traditional booze-absorber as a proper tea is one of them.
The Boss Kebab, Shedfield
Tel: 07909 682894