At first glance, it seems an odd fit. A chef the calibre of Joel Humphreys, who has worked at London's St John as well as Rockpool and Bodega in his time, opening a kebab restaurant?
Talk to him, though, and it quickly makes sense.
Lost Boys Kebab is now open at Newcastle's Cambridge Hotel and is the realisation of a long-held dream. A global pandemic and a desire to provide for his family in uncertain times gave Humphreys the push he needed. Baby number two is due any day now.
"I've been playing around with this takeaway/fast food model for quite some time and with all the uncertainty associated with COVID, I decided to follow through with it," he said. "The idea of setting up at the Cambo came about and the story sort of wrote itself after that."
Put aside, if you will, any unpleasant recollections of late-night kebabs devoured in a drunken haze. A lot of thought has gone into the Lost Boys menu, and it draws heavily on cuisines Humphreys explored in culturally diverse East London. Simple food packed full of flavour.
"I was working at a traditional British restaurant, St John, and eating everywhere I could on my days off," he said. "I was surrounded by a plethora of ethnic food and loved the punchy flavours. It planted a seed in my mind and it has taken until now for me to act on it."
The most popular Lost Boys kebab by far is the XO Chicken (spit-roasted chicken thigh with XO sauce, potato tots, garlic sauce, shaved cabbage and pickles). That title could be challenged by the Ruben Kebab, which is making its debut soon.
You can also order rice bowls and a mouthwatering selection of snacks (pan-fried cheese with honey, yuzu koshu and kaffir lime; grilled octopus with tarama, cucumber, dill and flatbread; or a shaved fennel salad with pickled ginger and black pepper, to name a few).
Also, Humphreys has just purchased a soft-serve machine and is keen to expand his dessert offering.
"We've already got the Fried Banana and Dulche de Leche Pie (banana and caramel wrapped in roti bread) and I'll be doing three different types of soft serve: vanilla with strawberry, licorice and candied black olives; another vanilla with cumquat, lemon thyme and caramelised white chocolate; and then a play on Snickers with salted peanut, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, and chocolate brittle over the top."
The Cambridge has undergone renovations and, while still a renowned live music venue, is putting more emphasis than ever on its food offering.
"With the luxury of it being such a big venue, there is no need to book. You can just walk in. There are no age restrictions and families are more than welcome," Humphreys said.
Lost Boys Kebab is open Tuesday to Saturday, 11am to 3pm, and 5pm until late.
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