A first-world problem if ever there was one, but it’s easy to suffer gastropub fatigue in East Dulwich. There’s so much top-notch modern British cooking (at top-notch prices, no less) that something a bit less ‘swanky’ is often needed. This is where the delightful Hisar comes into its own.
Service is ridiculously warm and cordial, with an army of regular staff bringing an even more homely feel to the surroundings. Dazzling Moroccan lamps, an unexpected 'faux-cave' interior and a host of exotic painted vistas give it a distinctive ‘70s holiday feel, but I love it all the more for that.
Perhaps I’m biased because I’m a regular. It’s hard to tear myself away from the scoff-worthy moussaka each time, even though the dish is rarely the same; it may arrive with the billed wheat rice, or a jumbo salad perhaps, or even chips (which are so unnecessary, given moussaka is the densest dish known to man and womankind). But I’ve had a bash at the Iskender (the Middle Eastern equivalent of lasagne, featuring buttered layers of pitta, spiced meat and yoghurt - so wrong, yet so right) and chicken shish (very nice indeed). The mezze starters are good, too.
Arguably, it's a bit naff; given the decor, and side salads containing the likes of raw pepper and downright irritating frisse. But anyone expecting micro greens or purple sprouting what-not can jog on to the posh ‘establishments’ further down Lordship Lane, where they’ll find pea shoots and fennel fronds in abundance.
Hisar is a firm family favourite, and you’ll struggle to spend over £45 between two here (including starters and booze). Efes is the house beer, and the Turkish red (£16 a bottle) is surprisingly quaffable. Both provide vivid opportunities for retro holiday reminiscence, without the threat of a, sunburn or b, ham, egg and chips on the menu.