One of London’s first ‘posh’ kebab outlets, initially frowned upon by local kebab shop owners in Stoke Newington, celebrated its first Birthday on March 4. To mark the milestone, Fanny’s offered 50 per cent off at all outlets on the day to say thank you to its loyal customers.
Fanny’s Kebabs, named after what the owners call “the real power woman of wallet-friendly recipes”, Fanny Craddock, serves up the fancy version of what most would consider a guilty indulgence: the Kebab.
The menu consists of a simple structure whereby customers choose from four fillings, served either in a wrap, rice box or salad box and optional sides. There’s even a plant based option of vegan falafel and hummus for the ever-increasing vegan clientele.
We tried the fare for ourselves, opting for a ‘swish chicken’ kebab with sweet potato fries ‘tossed in persian salt’. The wording alone shows the key difference between a ‘posh’ and regular kebab, using terms like ’24-hour marinated chicken’ and ‘succulent chunks of leg’ (when referring to the lamb option). The food did however, live up to the fancy descriptions: the chicken was juicy and wholesome-tasting, the yogurt dressing zesty and salad fresh and crunchy. Not often does one describe a fast-food takeaway with such fragrant language but in this case it was necessary.
We asked customers Toby and Vanda what they thought of Fanny’s and Toby confessed: “I love junk-food. Greasy, fried, you name it. But I know I shouldn’t eat like this all the time so I tend to avoid these foods at least five out of seven days a week. What I love about Fanny’s is that it satisfies that craving for something oozy and delicious, without the added guilt. I can see it being prepared in front of me and the ingredients are fresh and wholesome. Not only that but I also don’t feel sluggish after, it’s like the Jamie Oliver version of a late-night kebab.”
Vanda, being a vegan of three years expressed similar positivity: “The food is delicious, I can’t fault that. Vegan food can often be bland when it isn’t from an all-vegan restaurant because they basically remove all the flavoursome parts and leave you with a pile of leaves.” We asked her if she ever goes to ‘regular’ kebab shops and she said: “Of course! In fact, kebab shops are one of the few takeaway food joints that are likely to be vegan friendly. I often get a flalafel pita at my local, but I must admit the little touches by Fanny’s do make it that much more fancy. Just using rocket instead of cos lettuce changes the flavour completely and it really stands out when you don’t have meat to mask the entire meal.” She admitted however that the price point was also reflected in the product: “I wouldn’t be able to eat these as often as the kebab shop-chain option just because it is a little more expensive. The price is definitely justified by the quality, it’s just a little more of a ‘posh’ meal I suppose.”
Set up by young entrepreneurs Claude Compton and Jacek Bilinski, Fanny’s was not expected to be a success, due to the location of its first store on Stoke Newington High street which is known for its procession of Turkish charcoal grills
With neither partner being a resident of the area, Claude and Jacek were already at a disadvantage when setting up shop in Stoke Newington. They also did not have Turkish heritage.
Claude’s West London living place meant the two were quickly painted as ‘the posh boys’ from the West by Adam Cogler, a writer for www.londoneater.com in January 2018.
They were not welcomed for their so-called ‘posh’ take on the humble kebab; some shop owners even deemed the new competition ‘offensive’.
Ferhat Dirik, General Manager of Turkish kebab shop Mangal 2 – close by in Dalston – told Adam Coghlan at London Eater in early 2018, several weeks before the store was opened: “It insinuates many negative connotations regarding the Kebab industry… Nothing can threaten Mangal 2.”
This was not the start Jacek and Claude were expecting back in 2018, but they did not let it stop them.
Despite the criticism, Fanny’s thrived on the fashion fast- food scene, with its edgy branding and healthy twist on the traditional kebabs.
Jacek said they had spotted a niche in the market by starting up Fanny’s: “We’ve always loved kebabs from working late nights within hospitality and wanted to put our own little twist on them.
“We played around with the branding, design and created something the millennial and Gen Z crowd would find appealing. And it seems like they do which is great.”
When asked about ‘shaming’ the traditional versions Jacek responded: “We’re both huge fans of kebab shops across London and have eaten at a LOT of them. Both Claude and I still regularly visit our local Mangal’s.”
Since the original store opened in Stoke Newington, the pair went on to open sites in Fulham and Victoria, opening three sites within eight months, a bar and creative space downstairs below the original site in Stoke Newington.
The owners have a further expansion planned for 2019.