Sparrow is a restaurant that lives up to its name. It’s small, lively, sweet, and has managed to find itself a comfortable perch in what is otherwise an unlikely corner of the city.
That would be just off a major motorway deep in Lewisham, where, amidst high-rise buildings and multi-lane traffic, it’s one of the few flickerings of life. Walk in and the urban harangue is swept away with one almighty wave of hospitable warmth. The kitchen is open, the service is endearing, and the drinks — one apero and one cocktail per day; we enjoyed a galangal-dosed Negroni —are adept at washing away the road dust.
Husband-and-wife team Terry Blake and Yohini Nandakumar logged time at kitchens like St. John, BAO, and Merchant’s Tavern, and the influence shows. The cooking is simple, seasonal, but also clever and voraciously wide-ranging: we start with a Scandi-inspired cured salmon with lemon and fennel dressing before moving to an Italian-scented green risotto with hazelnut crumb and goats cheese and an Asian-evoking malt duck whose sticky skin and rendered fat were rapturously good.
But while Sparrow’s kitchen is smart and ambitious, it remains an unpretentious neighbourhood restaurant with real heart. We have a feeling we’ll be winging our way back soon.