Ladywell Tandoori, Ladywell, SE13
Review by @Benb111
Sometimes fate can be a right bitch. Other times she can be Emma Stone-mixed-with-Mila Kunis-and-a-twist-of-Helen-Mirren. So it proved when I had a flat tyre on a Saturday night in Ladywell, near Lewisham.
I cursed my bad luck. But then celebrated it. Ladywell is definitely a ‘go through’ place… you go through it to get somewhere else. Nobody stops in Ladywell apart from those who live there, 284 and 122 bus drivers, and deflated unfortunates. Dad’s Taxi Service was operating that fateful night – the last Saturday of February – and I had just dropped my son off at a friend’s house somewhere in SatNav Land.
Heading back to Greenwich, I felt a slight pulling to the right of the steering before hearing the grating sound of the right front metal wheel rim screaming out: “You have a flat tyre, i-d-i-o-t!”
The car rolled to a halt just metres from… the unremarkable-looking Ladywell Tandoori, next to the bus stop and opposite Ladywell Mayil Food & Wine. So guess where I headed?
Opening the door, I was stunned to see the most beautiful murals depicting Indian scenes on the two walls flanking the narrow restaurant, which was packed. I managed to get a table and was equally stunned by the sweet service from husband and wife team Habib and Khalida, who have owned the restaurant since 1982. The food, very reasonably priced, was delicious, by the way.
Subsequently, I have been back twice, most recently with SheWhoMustBeObeyed on a Saturday night in March. The welcome was equally warm, with Habib, who is from Bangladesh, wearing his trademark cap, and a tie neatly tucked into a pullover.
There are four booths on the right as you enter, and tables opposite, with a little bar by the kitchen entrance. For a starter we shared a Sonahara Samosa (£2.95, minced chicken and sweetcorn), which was lovely, with the pastry nice and flaky. We also has a couple of popadoms (50p each), which came with some chutneys.
By now, after this three visits, Habib knows I love my food spicy, so he recommended a Murg Achari (£6.95, and according to the menu, “marinated grilled fillet of chicken cooked in a spicy, tangy sauce of fresh garlic, ginger, green chilli and fresh coriander”).
This chicken immediately passed my Good Curry Test with flying colours, as it was soft and succulent. So many restaurants get it wrong with pieces of overcooked dry chicken just smothered in a sauce. Not the Ladywell Tandoori.
The wife was equally happy with her Chicken Korma (£4.50) and we shared a cauliflower bhaji (£2.50) with a couple of portions of boiled rice (£1.60 each). Unusually, the restaurant also serves game, with pheasant and venison on the menu.
The food was all very moreish, and clearly Habib and Khaleda know the secret of how to run a successful restaurant – it has been around for 31 years, don’t forget. I’m just disappointed I didn’t discover it earlier.
And that tyre? The AA came round and fixed it. And the murals? They are by a brilliant artist called Gill Golding, who has taught Fine Art at Middlesex University. Fine art, fine restaurant… don’t wait for a flat tyre to give it a go.
• Meal for two (inc non alcoholic drinks, and without service) £31.60.
Ladywell Tandoori, 81 Ladywell Rd, London SE13 7JA. Tel: 0208 690 1047. Open daily: 5pm-11.30pm