I’m sure most people’s experiences with donor kebabs are much the same as mine: the hunger demon on your drunken shoulder pipes up at 2am as you’re walking home from the pub and demands you fill your gut with questionable meat in a wrap and nothing else will suffice. Only to wake up the next morning with it firmly placed on a long list of regrets from the night before. So what if I told you it didn’t need to be this way? What if I told you that you could have the kebab at a sensible hour, and that everything was made from scratch, and the meat was locally sourced lamb in a handmade wrap? Personally, I’d find that pretty sweet.
The good news is that this is a reality, and even better news is that they’re being made by the team at The Troll’s Pantry, who are more famous for those amazing burgers you used to find at the Hobgoblin (but have now moved to their very own mobile site at the top of Trafalgar Street). So on this basis, I headed to The Druids Arms by The Level to give the brand new Trolldoner a go.
On arrival I met Paul Clark, founder of The Troll’s Pantry, who told me kebabs are the next phase of their high quality, affordable, ‘junk food’ masterplan. On the menu they have three meat versions, all of which are made with organic East Sussex hogget, which is a slightly tougher and older grade of lamb that works really well for kebabs and also has a higher fat content meaning no need for artificial binding agents.
The Troll Doner (£7) is their classic, made with pickled cucumber, salad and beetroot tzatziki. The Dirty Troll (£7) recreates that late night feel with homemade seasonal burger sauce squirted over it, and The Flaming Troll (£7) is the one for your mate who can’t eat one unless it’s got extra chilli sauce. I’ve never known if vegans get quite the same satisfaction (or lack of it) from a late night ‘bab, but they’ve also been catered for with versions made with broad bean falafels, used because of their locality. In fact, the only thing that isn’t from the southeast is the oil they triple cook their fries in (£3.50). That comes from Crete, and is the only extra virgin olive oil that the Trolls could find that hits their standard for deep-frying potatoes.
On Friday and Saturday nights between 10pm-2am (as well as 12-5pm Wednesday – Saturday) the late night kebab experience becomes even more exciting when they flip the menu over to pitta wraps filled with hogget kofte, chicken gyros, halloumi and more broad bean falafel. This means you can drunkenly get yourself one for the walk home before even leaving the pub. Quite honestly, this is genius!
Now the thing is, when you bite into any of these, they pretty much taste like the doners that we’re used to, but much, much better. There’s no reinvention of kebabs here, but they’ve been made by people who genuinely care about how they cook food, for people who care about what they put into their bodies. Once you’ve had one made with locally sourced meat, vegetables and salads with sauce made from scratch in a homemade wrap, you won’t want to go back to the ones with heavy question marks hanging over them.