About four years ago, I was tipped off to the joys of Kricket, an Indian restaurant run by Will Bowlby and Rik Campbell in a shipping container at POP in Brixton. The names of the founders caused an involuntary arch of the eyebrow, a reaction spotted by the friend recommending the place. The food-writing, very-hard-to-please Indian friend recommending the place, in fact.
Trust me, they said, trust them I did, and that little shipping container proved to be an oft-visited joy until it was closed and Kricket moved to a permanent, bricks and mortar site in Soho. We had one lunch there… and sighed. What had been vibrant, fun and creative was now under spiced, soggy and dull, and exactly the sort of “white guys do Indian” thing I’d feared on first glance.
When another friend – similarly hard to please, also a food writer – suggested a catch-up lunch at the new(ish) Kricket in White City, I must have done the eyebrow thing again. No, they assured me, it’s good. And, happily, they too were right. This was the Kricket I remembered, a much happier marriage between east and west.
Kasmiri Lamb breast paratha, lamb fat – I mean, how could you not? – was good enough to eat on its own, although even better when run through the various juices and sauces that remained on the assorted small plates. Saying that the date and pistachio naan also ticked all the boxes…
In the absence of old POP-classic the Goan sausage roll, Goan sausage croquettes, pickled green chilli prove an acceptable alternative: well spiced, succulent and very satisfying. Beetroot porial – and, sadly, not “portal” as my eyesight first suggested – turns out to be a cracking Indian stir-fry (rather than a gateway to another vegan dimension), although its vegan joys are rapidly undermined by the venison and aged beef fat kebab, with greengage chutney, smoked raita and hazelnut. Like the paratha, it’s a very clever use of fat.
Kid goat Haleem, puffed wheat, ginger, mint proves to be a rather more photogenic version of this slow-cooked, comforting dish but as good as any I’ve had in a UK restaurant. The burnt garlic tarka dal provided contrasting flavour if not texture, but that’s where more of the bread came in, obviously, this time a potato paratha, dusted with nigella, as perfect and absorbent as carbohydrates get. Mustard greens, with ginger and green chilli, also impressed (and kept our mums happy). Desserts looked appealing but even I have capacity limits.
The happy postscript to this tale is that it encouraged a return to Kricket Soho for an excellent lunch that suggests either that first meal was an anomaly or that, actually, someone up top has given everything a shake-up. Based on other reports, it’s looking more like the latter and, frankly, long may it continue. Good to have you back, Kricket. Good to have you back.
2 Television Centre, 101 Wood Lane, London W12 7FR
Tel: 020 3958 2867