Last Friday, Jon and I met our friends at the Lyric Hammersmith for a performance of “Punk Rock” (which, by the way, was pretty forgettable). The show ended at 9:30 pm and I needed food, stat. Thank goodness for Tamarind & Thyme’s July post on Shilpa Indian Restaurant. The restaurant is near the theatre, and as a bonus, Shilpa is running a promotion of 40% off your food bill when you eat in.
I’d already been to Shilpa a couple of months ago, soon after Su-Lin’s post (I love south Indian food and so was willing to schlepp across town to Hammersmith). At that first dinner there, while a few of our dishes were winners (e.g., prawn moilee and Kerala paratha), there were also a few extreme clunkers such that I didn’t envision another destination-dining journey to Shilpa. Exhibit A of a totally inedible dish at Shilpa: the “squid pepper fry,” which turned out to be tiny, rubbery O’s of (allegedly) squid.
That said, at 10 pm on a chilly Friday evening near the Lyric Hammersmith, Shilpa seemed ripe for a re-visit.
Masala dosa is a must at any south Indian meal, and Shilpa’s version was a filling and tasty way to start our dinner. The pancake was hot and crispy, and the spicy potato filling was well complemented by spicy sambal and soothing coconut chutney.
At £8.50, the prawn moilee may be the most expensive dish on Shilpa’s menu, and both times I’ve had it, it’s been worth every penny. I loved the curry’s fragrant turmeric and ginger mellowed by the sweet coconut milk, and the dish’s seven or eight prawns were beautifully cooked (i.e., not overcooked to toughness).
The Kerala fish curry (£6.50), in contrast, had an appealing tomato-based sauce, but seemed to include a flaky, slightly-dry fish that tasted like tuna out of a can.
I love Kerala paratha (and its Malaysian cousin, roti canai), and at £1.75 per generous portion, Shilpa’s version is a steal. Hot, flaky and crispy – what’s not to love?
The four of us ordered up a storm, at some point caving in to our love of paneer and ordering saag paneer (even though my friend from Bangalore points out that no self-respecting south Indian resto should have paneer anywhere on its menu), and happily, there were no awful dishes this second time around.
In the end, the dishes were so inexpensive that I felt mildly guilty taking advantage of the 40% off deal, but the beauty of saving on the food is that you get sucked in to ordering a lot of beer at £4.50 per (large) bottle. So then I didn’t feel as guilty anymore.
The service was attentive both times I visited; and tap water was never a problem. The restaurant’s decor is utilitarian save for earnest posters of the Stuart Smalley variety and a flat-screen TV on mute showing Bollywood films.
Despite all the food and beers ordered, our tab on both our visits came to a wallet-friendly £13 per person.
If you live within 30 minutes of Shilpa and are prepared for a few misses on the menu, it’s a must-visit place for a quality, great-value curry. But if you live further afield (say, in Angel, Islington), then drop by the next time you’re catching a show at the Lyric Hammersmith.
Shilpa Restaurant, 206 King Street, W6 0RA, 0208 741 3127; closest tube stations: Ravenscourt Park or Hammersmith.