Most of us have done it at some time or other: stumbled merrily from the pub to the nearest kebab shop.
It feels great at the time, all those slivers of doner meat piled high in polystyrene, but you wake up the next morning with the aftertaste of garlic and regret.
It’s perhaps the guiltiest of guilty pleasures and, unlike its early morning meal counterparts such as pizza, hasn’t really been accepted as a restaurant option.
But a new Sunderland city centre business is elevating the lowly kebab by opening a restaurant dedicated to doners.
Rather than the varieties served in takeaways, however, Döner Haus is inspired by German kebaps. Much like the cultural appropriation of pizzas in New York, this traditionally Turkish dish has been adopted by Germany where it’s become a firm food favourite.
The key to its success is its higher percentage of meat than your average doner kebab and the quality of the bread, a recipe for success that’s been adopted by this new restaurant in the former Papadoms site in Sunniside, which is open daily from lunchtime.
Gone are the Bollywood posters and rickshaw of the site’s previous guise to be replaced by a decor probably best-described as Soviet style industrial chic. Think
exposed air vents, a mixture of booth and canteen-style seating and 1930’s-style tiling bearing the names of Berlin locations such as Alexanderplatz. Despite this being run by the same owner, you’re certainly not in Papadoms anymore.
In keeping with the informality of a kebab, service is order at the bar once you’re seated - like Nando’s next door. Also like the chicken place, it’s faff free dining: you collect your own condiments and cutlery from the side counter and you also get free unlimited soft drinks for £2.95, which is great for added value.
Those on the booze can choose from German beers on draught, such as Lowenbraü, as well as a small selection of Bavarian and German bottled beers, and wines.
And so to the meat!
You can expect to pay £7-£8 for a kebab, with sides on top. I ordered the Berlin-inspired Checkpoint Cheesy (see what they did there), a doner kebab served with mozzarella, lettuce, onions, tomato, bacon and chilli sauce.
Peep through the pass and you can see the rotisserie from which this beef and turkey mixed meat is shaved.
According to the restaurant’s website, it’s 85 percent meat (the other 15 percent being fats and spices), compared to 30 percent meat in your average takeaway doner - and it shows.
This was a much leaner meat with none of that greasy aftertaste. Forget flaccid pittas too, this was served in doughy German-style bread that helped to contain the whopping portion. Though this is far from diet food, it didn’t feel anywhere near as fatty as those 2am kebabs.
Non meat-eaters needn’t miss out either: there’s also a range of veggie kebabs with options such as falafel and halloumi.
It seems like this latest new addition to the city - thought to be the first of its kind in the UK - has got doner kebabs all wrapped up.