“Shri Lakshmi”:https://www.veganvegetarianplantbasedfood.co.uk/ is a seven-minute walk from my house, and consequently I’ve walked past it on numerous occasions. It’s a small restaurant occupying a corner plot on Walthamstow’s busy Hoe Street and consequently, has a fair amount of competition. It was established in February 2020 during the Covid pandemic, a brave move in anyone’s book. But bearing in mind it’s already won the local newspaper’s award for Takeaway of the Year, it’s obviously doing something right. I’m not keen on takeaways, so was waiting for indoor eating to resume, when I spotted on Facebook that they’d opened a small terrace at the back. With only two tables, I made sure I booked.
We found a side entrance so there was no need to go through the restaurant, unless you pay by credit card, when the signal isn’t strong enough outside. In the small, enclosed area were two picnic benches: one for four and another for six. The area was covered with a tarpaulin and wall heaters kept us warm.
The restaurant has a vegan, vegetarian and plant-based Indian “menu”:https://www.veganvegetarianplantbasedfood.co.uk/menus-1. The five starters, all priced at £4, sounded appetising but we plumped for Aloo Wada, spiced potato fritters cooked in chickpea flour batter and samosas. Both were deliciously spicy and served with pots of coriander and tamarind chutney.
The rest of the menu is divided into chaat, curry and dal with sections for breads, rice and extras. The Malai kofta curry had four small fried dumplings made of carrot, green peas, potato and chilli. The tomato sauce they were served in was fabulous. Spinach dal with onion, tomato, ginger and garlic was similarly tasty. We shared both along with a garlic naan and steamed basmati rice.
Portion sizes were just right but we weren’t able to manage a dessert (especially as I knew I had home-made mango kulfi lurking in my freezer at home).
Service was attentive and we were given a bell to press when we wanted service. The restaurant is family run with Nihar, overseeing the business side of things, mum cooking and dad managing front of house. Dad was more than happy to answer any questions and told us that the food was from all over India, although the family were from Hyderabad. When we mentioned this was the starting point on our winter Indian holiday, he told us that his other son has a restaurant there and that if our holiday goes ahead (unlikely at the time of writing), we should get the details from him.
What makes this place attractive is its Bring Your Own Bottle policy, and even with a £5 corkage payment, it makes the bill much more palatable. If you don’t live locally, you can buy a range of craft beers and other drinks at “Clapton Craft”:https://www.claptoncraft.co.uk/ a few doors away. Our bill with tip was £40.
Whilst we had a fantastic meal, it also gave me lots of menu ideas for when I next have my gluten-free, vegetarian friend round for dinner – either that or I could resort to a takeaway. But then would I pass it off as my own?