Before going to Sparrow I had a major strop. It was the boy’s birthday. We live down the road. As an elaborate ruse, I planned to order an Uber for the five minute journey to throw him off the scent. Aren’t I extravagant. But the Uber was at a 2.0 surge. We waited 11 minutes and it was still sat around the corner – actually by the restaurant. Now we were 15 minutes late for journey that should take only five. I became agitated, got into a huff, and made us walk. I told him where we going on the way, although I could have made up some bollocks about going to Lewisham station. Then I told him where we going after (Oliver’s Jazz Bar), which was just churlish. It took me a good ten minutes to calm down. We just made the reservation and got wedged in the corner. Luckily I like corners so we were all good.
And thank God we did make it, because Sparrow is a slice of pure South London heaven. It sticks out like a beautiful thumb on the sore hand of Lewisham. In a good way. It was packed. Everyone was a bit older, which I might have mentioned I like before because I’m getting old innit, and it makes me feel vaguely younger sitting around with people my age and up. I am painting a terrible picture of myself.
Anyway the greatness started straight off with the bread. They slather the loaf in oil and bake it in the oven, then slice it up still hot. The result? Crispy and deep fried crust and innards like a soft duvet. Fuck me it’s the best bread I’ve ever eaten. I didn’t even use butter, I just ate it plain. It tasted like devil’s dough, the Chinese pastry you get wrapped in cheung fun at dim sum. Delicious.
Next, bruschetta of goat cheese with fig and mushroom. Corr blimey. Little crisp ovals of bread made to look as if they had been dipped in an M&S food advert, all luxurious fruiting figs and creamy whipped cheese. The mushroom was a pate, unctuous and umami.
Next, the pickled Devon crab with coconut and Thai spices. Served on a grilled cos lettuce, piled high with crispy onions and crab flakes. The crab was a salty slurp from the ocean floor – almost having the kind of depth I’ve missed from meat. Lovely.
House cured salmon with lemon and fennel dressing was smoked and sliced thin, spread across a bed of creamy delight and sprinkled with leaves. Tenderstem broccoli came with coconut curls and some sort of savoury, almost tapenade style topping. Broccoli and coconut aren’t my immediate go to but it was an interesting mouthful, even surprising, and definitely delicious. Weird.
Girolle and porcini mushroom with goats curd – made specially with a vegetable stock swapped out from the usual chicken – was a big bowl of steaming comfort. All rich, gooey mushrooms and a dollop of zingy curd to cut through it like a cheesy knife. Fuck, we had a lot of cheese. This is one of my favourite dishes in life and it was perfect fodder to plump out the meal. Mopped up with a second portion of that delicious devil’s dough bread, of course.
The boy got plum crumble for dessert, which I only had a small taste of as my new dress was bursting at the seams by this point. Toasted flakes of oats paired with sharp, sweet and sour bursts of stewed plums, and a big ol’ ball of ice cream. There was pumpkin pie which I regret not ordering, bitterly. Still never tried it.
We had a bottle of red (Primitivo, very drinkable) and two cocktails – too sweet for my liking so the boy had both. The bill came to £112 with service. Bloody bargain. And they take Apple Pay – handy, because I’d also forgotten my card. Maybe I’m the one that’s getting old. I used to be good at planning birthdays.
Sparrow is firmly in place with some of my favourite London haunts – Clove Club, Berner’s Tavern, Yauacha. They do a banging brunch and we’ll be back. I wonder if they sell those loaves whole?
Five out of five stars (just for even thinking of setting up shop in Lewisham).