Test Drives

paradise soho restaurant reviewChic but comfortable, slide into a booth with a group or hit up the counter if you're a walk-in.

So what do we need to know about Paradise?

This Soho restaurant is the first solo venture by restaurateur Dom Fernando. He wants to share with Londoners his love of the kind of food he grew up eating on childhood visits to relatives in Sri Lanka and has been running supperclubs around town for a while, having teamed up with chef Charith Priyadarshana. Charith grew up outside Colombo before heading to London where he worked his way up from kitchen porter to a junior chef at the Lord’s Cricket Ground restaurant.

Where exactly is it?

Dante said the path to paradise begins in hell - but you'd be better off heading to Piccadilly tube station which is the nearest station. You'll find the restaurant on Rupert Street where Spuntino used to be. 

paradise soho restaurant reviewMackerel cutlets with curry leaf mayo (£4) - they say cutlets, we'd say croquetas, but either way these are lovely.

Where should we sit?

Anyone who remembers the layout at Spuntino will be pretty surprised by what they've managed with the same space. The bar is half the depth of before, allowing for tables for four along the right-hand side (these can be booked, unlike the stools). There's also counter dining at the bar and at the window and there's also a table for six in a semi-private booth space at the back.

What's on the menu?

Think Sri Lankan classics given a modern interpretation, using top-notch British ingredients. If you don't know your way around Sri Lanka's culinary hotspots (and we didn't) the menu is split into short eats or snacks, veg & plant, land & sea. You can combine those with dishes from the hoppers & bread and sambals & rice section. We ended up picking a few snacks for ourselves and then asking for help on how much to order.

In addition to the mackerel "cutlets" above, here's what we had:

paradise soho restaurant reviewArrack infused cauliflower roti tacos (£4.50) - gloriously messy and fun to eat, here's hoping you haven't worn something that needs drycleaning.

paradise soho restaurant reviewMutton shoulder rolls with fermented chilli (£5.50) - superb mutton rolls, but be judicious with that sauce, warned our waitress, it's freaking hot.

paradise soho restaurant reviewYellow cod curry with coconut and fenugreek (£10.70) - it comes with unbilled shoestring fries making this the best fish and chips you're likely to have had for ages.

paradise soho restaurant reviewRoasted chicken curry with crispy chicken skin (£10.50) - the chicken skin is the relative icing on this excellent dish. 

What about vegetarians?

The plant section of the menu here at Paradise is the largest - other dishes include jackfruit and cardamom biryani as well as northern turmeric dahl with garlic oil - both vegan. In addition to our cauliflower rotis, we also had...

paradise soho restaurant reviewFried aubergine and jaggery moju - moju is one of Sri Lanka's most famous dishes. This was a huge hit of the night (£8) and a must-order.

Room for dessert?

There should be, because you'll be wanting to try these two crackers.

paradise soho restaurant reviewChilli chocolate tart with pistachio ice-cream (£6) - a perfect sized slice after all the food that came earlier, with ultra-thin pastry and a light chilli kick.

paradise soho restaurant reviewLaverstoke Park buffalo milk ice-cream with butterscotch and cashew brittle (£5.50) to dial down the heat of what you've enjoyed so far.

And to drink?

There's a short but enticing cocktail list - our coconut and nutmeg colada (£9.50) went down a treat but even the soft options looked good, with Ceylon iced tea, fresh ginger beer or papaya and banana infused coconut waters served in quart bottles with glass straws (£4.50-£5).

The wine list is similarly short - 6 whites, 1 orange and 5 reds focusing on biodynamic and organic growers. The cheapest bottle is £28 and the priciest a Napa Valley Syrah at £57 with most in the £30s. We went for the Oniric Blanc - an organic, vegan white from Penedès in Spain (£18.50 for a carafe).

Overall thoughts

From the terribly chic interiors to the enthusiastic and knowledgable staff (everyone working here spent five days in Sri Lanka at owner Dom's mum's house before the restaurant opening to immerse themselves in Sri Lankan food), Paradise lives up to its name. It's a wonderful addition to the Soho scene. Whether you know this kind of food well, or are encountering it for the first time, you'll enjoy what Dom and Charith are cooking up here.

Hot Dinners dined as guests of Paradise. Prices correct at time of publication

 

More about Paradise

Where is it? 61 Rupert St, Soho, London W1D 7PW

How to book? The counter is walk-ins only - otherwise for tables of four or more book online

Find out more: Visit their website or follow them on Instagram @paradisesoho.

 

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