Masala Wala Cafe
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A tiny family-run Pakistani restaurant.
Masala Wala Cafe – a dinky little family-run Pakistani curry joint, plonked on a roundabout near Brockley station – is one of those perfect neighbourhood restaurants. Having had a refurb, the cramped interior is now more like a hip Soho spot, with tables made from salvaged piping, neat Indian posters on the walls and some outdoor counter seating. Despite that, it remains a homely affair, with a reassuringly short menu (four mains, three sides, pickles and raita) and a BYO policy that gets you a discount from the deli opposite.
On my visit, everything on the menu was killer. Black chickpea curry was a smoky, warming dish, on the right side of spicy and the peas cooked so they still had a little bite; lamb and spinach ghosht saw tender meat strung through almost puréed greens – a swampy little bowl honking with ginger and spices. Portions are generous too – they’ve actually got bigger as the years have gone on, which is an unprecedented bonus.
On the side, a flaky pile of rotis could have done with a scrape more butter but a carrot and chilli pickle was tart and textural, full of crunch and the sour-savoury zing of fleshy pickled lemon (side note: you cannot have too much pickled lemon, the world’s most underrated ingredient).
Even desserts, rarely a standout in such spots, were grand. A cone of pistachio kulfi was dense and rich, like pressure-compacted gelato; a subtly floral rose lassi ambrosially light and refreshing.
Service is charming beyond belief, and the mother/daughter operation (in the kitchen and running front of house, respectively) has been rightfully praised by locals. Brockley’s gentrification has been pretty glacial, and it’s still lacking in good eateries. This is definitely one, though – a pitch-perfect little spot doing absolutely everything right.
Served up in an intimate, modern cafe setting in the heart of Brockley, south London. We offer a small freshly cooked menu on a rotational basis which we look forward to sharing with you!
5 Brockley Cross
|Price:||Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £60.|
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