Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Local Eats

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Local Eats

Article excerpt


charles campion in northfields

Sigiri, W13

161 Northfields Avenue, W13 (020-8579 8000) Dinner for two with beer, [pounds sterling]40 (2/5)

On Northfields Avenue there are two or three curry houses, a couple of Chinese restaurants, various takeaways and Sigiri, a Sri Lankan restaurant that has won awards, including 'London's best Sri Lankan restaurant' several years running.

Sigiri does itself no favours - a ponderous brick facade surrounds the large front window with that strange, dark, almost oneway glass. From the inside looking out, all is light and bright, but from the outside it just looks gloomy, and when viewed from the street it appears to be closed. The forbidding look has never caught on with restaurants and this may account for why Sigiri never seems to have more than a trickle of customers. All of which is a pity, as the cooking here is very sound.

The star turn among the starters is the appa (or hopper). These are round, bowl-shaped, rice flour pancakes. They are quite delicious - the sides are crisp, while the bottom tends to a glorious, gooey sogginess.

You can have them plain, or with an egg cooked in the bottom, or with a kind of coconut milk sludge.

Hoppers make a satisfying opening move and go well with sambols - which are a sort of cousin to chutney.

They vary from a kind of onion jam, combining sweet and savoury, to seeni sambol, which you can have with a sprinkling of small dried fish (better than it sounds), and coconut chutney which is a dish of fresh grated coconut with slivers of green chilli.

Also good are the cutlets - fishcakes without much fish - and the masala wade - a crisp and crunchy patty made from lentils, deep fried.

The charming waitresses are very concerned that your main course does not end up being too chilli hot for you, and you must be firm with them if you want some authentic zip to your meal.

Devilled squid suffers from an over-enthusiastic dollop of food colour, but the beef in black pepper is very good, a dry dish with plenty of flavour.

Fish seer is another good option - fillets of implausibly meaty fish swim in an ocean of light coconut soup. …

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