When Cat first started going out with Matt she did what all new girlfriends do, she introduced him to her pals. So far, so typical. However, one day when she and Matt were out she bumped into one of her mates.
Introductions duly made Cat was shocked when her friend started quizzing Matt in an impudently personal way. The interrogation went something like this: Cat’s friend: “Are you Jewish?” Matt: “Err, no.” Cat’s friend: “Welsh then? No? Are you perhaps a Seikh?”. On it went as she rolodexed through a lexicon of swarthy nationals. Eventually she admitted defeat and accepted Sussex-born as the definitive answer. By this time Cat was feeling awkward about this persistent badgering and Matt was just bemused.
Fast forward a decade and the same scenario was being played out again in Dalyan Kebab House, Shanklin. After a particularly entertaining night at Shanklin Theatre, Matt decided to wrap up the evening with meat. Cat followed him into the welcoming warmth of the kebab house and heard the following discussion: Kebab man to Matt: “Hey. Where are you from?” Matt: “Er… we’ve just been to Shanklin Theatre.” KM: “No, I mean where are you from?” Matt: “Ryde” KM: “NO, I mean originally?” Matt: “Sandown.”. And so it went. The chap was convinced that Matt was Turkish – something about his slightly disheveled appearance and bulk apparently marked him out as Middle Eastern. Matt was flattered but unable to admit to anything other than English ancestry. The Dalyan chap even called his mate out from the back to have a look at him. Through her giggles Cat confirmed that Matt wasn’t Southern European, Jewish (at least last time she looked) nor Welsh nor a Seikh. With that matter cleared up – although the kebab bloke did not seem entirely convinced – it was time to order some late night snackage.
Matt, normally scathing of the photo menu – particularly any containing an image of the abhorrent Punky Penguin – will contrarily make an exception for the back-lit kebab house display. Certain other factors need to be taken into account – alcohol, of course, plus the lateness of the hour. How else could he explain, for example, this recent foray into the Brighton kebab scene? But nonetheless, like many kebab-house patrons, Matt has learnt that the food standard is often on a par with the prices – as low as it is possible to get away with.
With that in mind, the Shanklin branch of ubiquitous Island kebab chain Dalyan stood out for Matt as an unusually good example of the genre. Kebab and burgers at rock-bottom prices, plus garnish of salad and potent chilli sauce – all the usual ingredients were there. But Dalyan swerved away from the herd: it was immaculately clean, the chaps behind the counter chatted and entertained their customers as they worked on the ‘elephant’s leg’, and most remarkable of all, the food was actually pretty good.
Matt had burger and chips which he had wrapped to go and, on the journey back to Ryde they nestled warmly on his lap. His anticipation was such that he was practically stroking the bag like a favoured pet. Once home, the polystyrene carton was popped open to reveal the food. The chips were work-a-day; Matt and Cat have certainly had worse but there was a goodly pile for the money. The soft seeded bap contained a flat patty of meat dressed with shredded purple cabbage, iceberg and some fresh tomato wedges and topped with ‘burger sauce’ a slightly sweet concoction, which tasted a bit like salad cream. The meal was plentiful, and having seen it cooked and assembled freshly under his eyes Matt knew what he was getting. There had also been the usual options of chillies, raw onion, and various relishes; but as with all good kebab houses all of these were optional, and Matt opted out.
From the cheery greeting and entertaining exchange about Matt’s original heritage to the swift delivery of that special brand of late-night snack, Matt and Cat are happy to recommend Shanklin’s Dalyan as the place to go for fast food.