I’m waiting for a will to be delivered, and so I’m postponing my next article until that arrives, since I think the information in it is likely to be quite important. In the meantime, here’s a report on a food walk that a friend and I led along London Road last month.
We started off at Snake & Mongoose, a juice bar and grill at 36 London Road. Most of us had fresh juices here, including the simple but delicious coconut-based Jah Rule and the extremely green Go, with ingredients including peas, avocado, kiwi fruit, green apple, kale, and lime.
Then we moved on to Shadi Bakery, a naan bakery at 79 London Road. This has two tandoor ovens at the front, turning out fresh naan and chapatis, while further back is a service counter where naans are topped and grilled to order. We had zahter naan, topped with a zingy herb and spice mix, along with a beautifully melty cheese naan.
Next was Timber Gardens, a Ghanaian restaurant which opened in February 2015 on the ground floor of Zodiac Court. It’s an unusual setting for a restaurant, as when the Zodiac Court complex was originally laid out in the 1960s this space was planned and constructed as a car showroom.
Here we had kelewele, a Ghanaian specialty of cubed plantain fried with ginger and other spices to a soft sweet stickiness and then served with crunchy peanuts for a textural contrast. Portions were generous, and several of us took some of it home with us.
We followed this by popping in to Alees at 250 London Road, an Indian sweet shop where you can buy anything from a single gulab jamun to a kilo of barfi. They also do a few curries and savoury snacks, and some of our group opted for samosas instead of sweets.
Our next stop was Mauritian Dal Puri Snack at 288 London Road. This tiny stall sells the somewhat elusive dal puri, a soft flatbread made with a layer of split peas inside; here, it’s topped with home-made curry and optional chilli sauce, then folded up for eating on the go.
It was time for a break from food at this point, so we stopped off at Chennai Dosa, a South Indian cafe/restaurant at 239–241 London Road, for cups of perfectly-spiced masala tea.
Sambal Express at 332 London Road is part of a well-regarded small chain of Sri Lankan takeaways, so there was quite some excitement when it opened in September 2018. We sampled their coconut roti topped with katta sambal, a wonderfully fresh-tasting combination of chillies and onions.
Rotti Mama at 341 London Road is also a Sri Lankan takeaway, though this one isn’t part of a chain and unlike Sambal Express also has a couple of tables for eating-in. From their “short eats” selection we chose vegetable rolls and paruppu vadai, with the latter being perhaps the more popular — savoury fritters made from chana dal and various spices.
Coughlans bakery at 502 London Road is part of a local family-owned chain founded in 1937 and still going strong today. This small shop is not only their oldest still-extant branch, but has been a bakery since at least the 1850s. Located on the corner of London Road and Mayday Road, it marks the transition between the Croydon (CR0) and Thornton Heath (CR7) postal districts.
Over the past few years, Coughlans have been introducing more and more vegan options in their shops, including three types of vegan sausage roll. We tried the wild mushroom and the sausage-and-leek varieties, both of which were very nicely savoury. Several of our group also bought cakes and biscuits to take home.
Our penultimate stop was Taste Ah Jamaica at 3 Brigstock Parade, a Jamaican takeaway with a couple of eat-in tables. Here we had callaloo and rice & peas, livened up with a couple of bottled chilli sauces.
The walk ended at Santok Maa’s, a vegetarian Indian restaurant of long standing at 848 London Road. Along with more masala tea and fresh juices, we snacked on Nairobi bhajia — deep-fried battered potato slices served with chilli sauce — and bhel poori.
We’ll be doing the walk again in spring 2020, and if you’d like me to drop you a line when we have a date, email me at email@example.com.