I've just returned from a long weekend in Croatia (of which to follow), and I can't go home for another couple of days because of work related matters in Kent. And so I find myself at the Swanley Premier Inn with a craving for something spicy. The options are thus: head Kent-bound; head-London bound; chance a takeaway in Swanley itself; or last but least dine at the Beefeater Grill adjoining the hotel. I weigh up the options and have a little think to myself before hopping in the car.
London-bound it is then. Fifteen minutes up the A20 and here I am. Lewisham, lovely Lewisham. I like to think of Lewisham as the Stratford of South London (transport hub, large-ish non-descript town centre etc), but Stratford will soon have a Westfield mega-shopping centre and the Olympics and Lewisham won't. Such is the lot of South London.
As I waffle on you may have noticed that I seem to know London well for a Northerner. Before my year in Manchester I lived in South-East London for three years, Woolwich to be precise. Woolwich is hardly a foodie mecca (there are supposed to be a couple of good Nigerian/Ghanaian restaurants, but I never got round to trying them), and Lewisham was the nearest suburb to boast a fairly good selection of Asian food places.
One of my favourites in the early days of my time in the capital was a scruffy Sri Lankan and South Indian café called Aru Suvai. It was probably the cheapest restaurant that I have ever dined at in the UK. I recall a particular feast a friend and I had that cost £12 in total. Not each, in total including starters, several curries, rice, breads and drinks. I never knew how they made any money, and it became apparent one day that they probably didn't as I turned up to find the place had been spruced up and renamed Taste of Lewisham. So it has remained ever since, doing the same sort of food but for about 50% more expensive. Which is still dirt cheap. So for old times sake, and to blow my head off with some chilli heat I headed there this evening.
This is a Lamb kottu roti. Kottu roti is a stir fried dish made by chopping up roti (flatbread) and frying it with egg, vegetables, meat and spices. I suppose it's what Sri Lankans would call comfort food, as it's good solid, hearty stuff but packed with flavour from the aggressive spicing (plenty of chilli, curry leaves and a very hot curry powder) typical of the cuisine.
I hadn't eaten for a long time, so rather overdid it with the carbs. This is a bowl of lentil curry and a couple of parottas. The lentils were fine, but a bit stodgy as they were bulked out with potatoes for some reason. The parottas were excellent. They're a sort of layered, fried flatbread. These were crisp, greaseless and very moreish.
This lot cost me a total of £10 with a couple of mutton rolls and a can of Sprite. Cheap, filling and very spicy. Just what I needed.
Taste of Lewisham
19 Lee High Road