3 October 2013 - Sree Krishna: Where it all began
The year is 1973, a swathe of renewed hope is sweeping the US as Richard Nixon is inaugurated for his second presidential term and the Vietnam War has just come to an end. Across the Atlantic, the UK looks forward to economic prosperity upon joining the European Economic Community and, in South London, on the crest of this wave of optimism, one man dared to dream.
Forty years on, Nixon’s presidency is marred by the Watergate scandal and the European Union is suffering a recession, but Mr ‘Mickey’ Ramanarayanan’s restaurant reverie – Sree Krishna – is still going strong after spawning a cultural revolution in Tooting.
Here we review this bastion of local history, an establishment, without which, this blog would quite literally not exist.
On this occasion, we were joined by Liam Corry, a new resident of Tooting who, two months ago, cheated death when he was hit by a bus in Balham – presumably surviving because he couldn’t leave us without paying homage to the spiritual home of Tooting curry. Good lad.
Like Apu going in search of the original Kwik-E Mart, we ventured down to Broadway to pay our respects…
Sree Krishna is situated in an imposing grey marble building on the corner of Carlwell Street and Tooting High Street. At night the scene is slightly more welcoming with blue neon piping around the sign and fairy lights in the windows, but the environ within is more mood-lit and traditional than some of the chaos elsewhere up the road.
On our visit it felt a bit stuffy, and Liam even remarked: ‘it smells like Grandma’, but I’ve no idea what he was talking about. However, it did feel more athenaeum than curry house, but this is as one might expect from a venue of such esteem. Indeed, the marble floors, smart furniture and crockery (that appears to have been renewed since my last visit) are all befitting of the place and its reverence. Plus when the draught is on, it’s less than £3 for a Kingfisher - howay the lads!
All in all, there’s no arguing this is a slightly classier joint than some others on the High Street, and its legacy above all other things is worthy of at least one bonus point. Forty years on it’s still a local landmark, and long may that continue. 9/10
Starters and sides
Poppadoms and dips
House recommended – Masala Dosa and Chicken 65
Cocunut and Garlic Parathas
After a pretty standard poppadum, the waiter came over to take the remainder of our order. Sensing our deliberation over the other starters, he took the proverbial bull by the horns and said he’d choose for us. The result was some individually plated masala dosas and chicken 65 pieces which came with coconut, tomato and raita dips. Commendable as his initiative was, it was slightly disappointing that we missed out on the prawns we were lining up. That said, the chicken was decently spiced and the dosa was very soft and fluffy unlike some of others we’ve sampled which were more like Communion wafer than pancake. Plus, the coconut dip in particular tickled Tom’s fancy, indeed the coconut in the rice, dips and paratha was quite the bounty! Aside from that, the parathas were pretty standard and lacking in quantity; the waiter having put a stop to our ordering thinking we were getting ahead of ourselves. Little did he know that we are no amateurs; shame. 6/10.
Cochin King Prawn
Sree Krishna specialises in Keralan fare and for the mains we had a chicken, lamb and prawn combo, but, I must confess, none of them particularly stood out. Whilst the chicken was notably juicy, the sauce was quite average – mild with tame flavours. The lamb was similarly plain (yet another recommendation from the staff) and whilst we knew what to expect from the fry, the spices didn’t blow us away. The best of the bunch was the prawn in a medium sauce, but again, nothing to write home about. All in all, pretty mediocre, given the notoriety of where we were. In addition, the portions were relatively small – 6/10.
We’ve already eluded to the waiter’s proactivity, which we can’t criticise too strongly. However, another member of staff also offered us well priced draft Kingfisher that was quickly retracted once they realised the taps were off – a dangerous move to make with three thirsty males on a Thursday. That said, it appeared to be a welcoming, family affair, and, despite the outcomes, the waiter was far more affable than others we’ve encountered. After all, it’s the thought that counts – 7/10.
Value For Money
Despite not being able to take advantage of the draught, the substitute 660ml cobras were good value at 3.95 – not quite BYO, but very competitive. Unfortunately, this value wasn’t especially seen elsewhere, with the bill weighing in at £23 each. Given the portion sizes of the mains, and the paratha provision palaver, we weren’t quite satiated. We like to leave with bulging bellies and weighty wallets when we tread the curry boards of the Broadway, but on this occasion this, sadly, didn’t happen. Sure, we expected a tourist tax, given this fine diner’s heritage, but the premium was arguably slightly too high. 6/10.
Despite some evident criticism, it is fairly minor, and, ultimately, there are no real regrets after our visit. Liam even managed to get home without taking a bus out on the way.
With Mickey’s smiling face beaming down from the walls, we felt proud to have contributed to his wonderful legacy and long may it continue.
Sree Krishna is definitely worth a visit, after all, this is where it all began. 34/50.
Address: 192-194 Tooting High St, London SW17 0SF
Cuisine: South Indian
Alcohol Policy: Licensed
Summary: Tooting's first curry house - a must visit on any curry pilgrimage.