Friday, 24 August 2012

No Place Like Home

One of the lovely people that reads my blog commented recently that he only enjoys my posts when I talk about a restaurant that he would go to i.e somewhere cool and in central/East London. Heeding this observation, I dined at the uber trendy and oh-so-applauded Dalston pop-up Rita's a couple of Fridays ago and hated it.

In its defense the food - beans with meaty chunks of beef heart, mac n cheese with hints of green chilli, sticky chicken wings - was fine; and I can see why the critics vomited praise at its well-dressed feet. But the dishes were also over-priced, under-sized and served by a sullen gaggle of American-Apparel-ad-wannabes so interested in conversing with fellow pouting people they left us sitting without drinks and food for most of the evening. Call me out of touch, but you just don't get this kind of abandonment in your local curry house. Particularly if your local curry house happens to be Ganipati. 

For those of you who don't know, Ganipati is a Southern Indian restaurant on the East Dulwich/Peckham boarder much lauded by those in the spicy know. The Evening Standard have featured it, bloggers go weak at the naans at the mere whisper of one of their curries, and East Dulwich yummy mummy's fight hammer and spotlessly-manicured nails for weekend reservations. 

We went on a Saturday night whim (having stumbled across a last minute cancellation) and from the moment our cheerfully efficient waitress sat us down and rushed to fill our glasses with wine, leaving us to inhale the alarmingly good smells coming out of the kitchen, I knew that we had a neighbourhood gem on our hands. 

Everything we tried from the reassuringly short menu was excellent, kicked off with a pile of golden pappadoms and colourful array of home-made chutneys. These were followed quickly by vegetarian street snacks (fried orbs of spicy potato and ginger and chilli flecked chana dal) and a fragrant mutton chop dressed with a cheerful crunch of finely-shredded carrot and greens.

So far so good but the mains really illustrated why this tucked-away, suburban curry house has fans all over our fine capital. I wasn't familiar with Kerala Kozhi (chicken cooked in a masala of coconut, red chilli, coriander seed, garlic and black pepper) and its description in no way did justice to the pitch perfect layers of subtle spice that permeated every mouthful. Even better was the Tuna kodampuli, a mind blowing blend of fiery chilli heat, smoky tamarind and onions slow-cooked until they morphed into treacle. Best was the Kerala Paratha, which can only be described as what would happen if a fluffy flatbread and flaky croissant got it on over a griddle pan. Seriously sexy.

So, dear blog reader, I promise to venture forth into eating places both unknown and semi-permanent in the far-stretching reaches of East, North and West. But only if I can go back to Ganipati every time I want to be reminded that great restaurants need not be hip, they just need to treat you well and feed you better. 

38 Holly Grove
SE15 5DF
020 7277 2928

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