Sunday 2 March 2008

Ganapati, Holly Grove, Peckham, London

A spartan, yet colourfully decorated, neighbourhood restaurant serving authentic south Indian cuisine, Ganapati has bare wooden tables and friendly staff in traditional costume. On weekend evenings, there are two sittings at 7.30pm and 9.15pm. The latter can attract raucous groups of young professionals, giving the restaurant a lively atmosphere. The menu is varied and stimulating. Among the starters, is a very spicy fillet of mackerel served on a banana leaf (about £5) and with finely-sliced red onions. The hungry should choose the enormous Masala Dosa (£5.50) -a rice flour and lentil pancake stuffed with spicy mashed potato. Even the pappadoms come with four diverse pickles and chutneys. Among the mains, the Nagore lamb kurma curry (about a tenner) with rice is nourishing and tasty enough, but lacks the variety of the other dishes. More interesting is the Banana Leaf Thali - a classic south Indian dish served in a myriad of multi-sized metallic pots containing a fish, meat or vegetable curry, pickles, chutneys, rice, yoghurt and other condiments. To drink, you are given a large metallic flask of tap water with matching beakers. Or you can have a fruit lassi for about £3, or a 330ml bottle of cobra beer for £3.25. Ganapati also sells several unusual beers from the Meantime brewery, while wine starts at about £13 a bottle. Note, there is also an obligatory 10% service charge. All in all, good value for a taste of genuine southern Indian food. 8/10