1 February 2013: Jaffna House - Much kothu about Tooting
The Diamond Jubilee. £3 billion.
The London Olympics. £9 billion.
A year of eating and reviewing curry in Tooting. Priceless.
It’s been a momentous inaugural year for the Tooting Curry Blog, and over 17,500 hits at time of writing, a legacy has certainly been left in London post-2012, despite doubts from the critics. We survive bowels intact, ready to leave no poppadum unturned in our quest to find Tooting’s best curry based nutrition in 2013.
First on the hit list: Jaffna House. And hit it we did.
It’s fair to say that Friday night and the excitement of our first curry in a while got the better of us. Several beers at work, then a few more in London Bridge were enough to whet the appetite and loosen us up for a curry. Commitment to the cause never wavered, but apologies to the readers for being half soaked and shoveling it down rather than giving it a proper taste, but here goes anyway…
Situated two doors down from Radha Krishna Bhavan, on the corner of Tooting High Street and Coverton Road, it’s hard to miss Jaffna House. With a bold, sky blue sign to match Cycle Superhighway 7 on its doorstep, this joint actually has two entrances. On the high street is the take away entrance with a few tables and chairs for the more amateur diners. For the pros and those in the know the restaurant is round the back, via a side entrance. Inside you’ll take a step back into the 70s with a bar at the back that would make Delboy jealous. Nevertheless, it has a cosy feel and is a quieter diversion from the hustle and bustle of the likes of Lahore Karahi up the road.
My notes also say there were footsteps on the ceiling…despite having no recollection of what I meant and in the absence of Lionel Richie to consult on the physics of such a feat, I’m going to put it down as a positive. Likewise, the option to dine roadside or à l'arrière is commendable and bespoke napkins printed with Jaffna House insignia are a nice touch. 7/10.
Starters and Sides
Mutton Roll x 2
Cutlet x 2
We took the waiter’s recommendation on the roti which, like the rest of the meal, proved a little stodgy and bland. The croquet shaped mutton rolls were better, as was the fish ball cutlet that offered a bit of spice. However, the overriding feeling was that the chef had got a bit giddy with the deep fat frier which might suit some, but we prefer a bit more culinary subtlety…and aren’t Scottish. Similarly, the poppadoms were overtly greasy, albeit this left us in no doubt that they were fresh. More positively, the garlic naan was notable, but the chillies hidden within its depths took young Tom by surprise. 5/10
As with the starters and with our experience of Sri Lankan food thus far, we found the mains here rather dry. Whilst we acknowledge the cultural difference, the lack of sauce found in a stringhopper or kothu doesn’t quite do it for us. Unless we are ignorantly doing it wrong these are more like substitutes for biryanis than curry. Also, it has to be said they could have been replaced by those we sampled in Apollo Banana Leaf half way through and we’d have been none the wiser. The chicken tikka offered a moist and succulent departure from the carb-loading, but altogether, not a huge amount to write home about from the mains here (although it did help soak up some of the pintage). 5/10
We can only speak for the service in the back restaurant, but it was very professional, far from the haphazard table service elsewhere. Beyond that, I can remember little, but Tom is keen to mark up the waiter for looking like a bhangra superstar. Each to their own. 7/10.
Value For Money
With every Sri Lankan restaurant there’s always the hope that there’s a Ceylon (I’ve made this joke before, but it has to be made again) and Jaffna House didn’t disappoint. Despite a lack of BYOB, there were some Sri Lankan beers on offer which, along with the food, came to £15 a head. So, on pure price it was good value, but the food could’ve been better. 7/10
As mentioned already, the food wasn’t the best here, but another visit might prove more fruitful given the other dishes on offer. Tom was also sidelined by a rogue chilli and had some severe repercussions the next day, but to blame the restaurant rather than his bingeing and low heat tolerance might be unfair. All in all, the scores total to 31/50.
Address: 90 Tooting High St, London SW17 0RN
Cuisine: Sri Lankan & South Indian
Alcohol Policy: Licensed
Summary: Take away venue with nicer restaurant tucked away in the back. A good option for sampling Sri Lankan dishes like hoppers and kothu.