While Lewisham is not a place I tend to frequent, it is near where an old housemate and I used to live. Upon hearing that Sparrow had opened for business, it was a chance to check out the food, and catch up in our old area.
The Venue and Atmosphere
Anyone that has been to Sparrow can probably agree with me that it is somewhere you could potentially miss when walking by. Lewisham is the sort of area where everyone is on a mission to get somewhere; be it on the way to work, home or all those in between, and finding a hidden gem is a rarity. But that is what Sparrow is to this town.
When walking into the restaurant on a Wednesday evening, we noticed we were in with young professionals relaxing after work, catch ups, birthdays - a real mixed bag of customers. All in all the place was busy and it smelt divine. Our friendly waiter for the evening approached us and ran us through the specials and the way the menu worked; think British style tapas and a mixture of cocktail classics alongside new blends. The venue itself is very trendy, and similar to what you’d expect to see in Shoreditch and Dalston. Chalk boards propped around the venue showed off specials and exposed brick work accompanied the big bay windows to give it a light, airy feeling. With an open kitchen on the far end of restaurant, it's easy to watch the chefs at work.
The Food and Drink
To decide what we wanted to eat, we needed a drink in our hands, our waiter suggested the house cocktail: Melon Aperol with East London Vodka. You could serve this as something of a sorbet, it was so refreshing and definitely the right kind of drink to start the evening off.
Reading the history of the restaurant, owners Terry Blake and Yohini Nandakumar have a varied history in different venues, which I would assume plays a heavy influence on the menu created. Going with five dishes we just couldn't pass up, we opted for Courgette Trifolati Bruschetta (£2.5 pp), Tenderstem Broccoli (£7.5), Fried Chicken Tulips (£7.50), Grilled Lamb Chops (£12) and Beef Massaman Curry (£15).
Starting with the smaller portions, the Courgette Bruschetta was light and balanced; courgette is something I eat regularly and is difficult to get right when spiralized, however the mix of it with chilli flakes and garlic created a light paste which went well with the crunch of the bread. Topped with goats cheese, this added an extra intense flavour, and was a portion we really didn't want to end. Next out came the Tenderstem Broccoli with shavings of coconut, both married together perfectly to create a crunchy but fragrant dish. This was followed by the fried chicken tulips, which were served with an Indonesian satay sauce that offered a welcomed blast of peanut and chilli.
Tucking into a bottle of the dry Werner Risling (£29), we moved on to the larger dishes.The grilled lamb chops were perfectly cooked, as a ribbon of fat along the side stayed crispy and succulent. Underneath the plate of meat lay a bed of large couscous and pomegranate which enhanced the lamb and brought a fruity element to the sizzling meat. Lastl but definitely not least, the Massaman Curry. I can safely say though that Sparrow’s version is one of the best I’ve tasted. The slow cooked beef was rich in flavour having soaked up the aromatic spices. Topped with fried garlic, the rich and mellow flavours brought a vibrancy to the dish without the need of excessive chilli.
At the start of this review, I said that this restaurant could easily be missed from the outside. Having been there twice now, there’s something definitely unmissable, and that’s the food. Sparrow is somewhere you definitely need to check out if you’re in the nearby area and a restaurant that will continue to soar in the future.