PERCHED on top of Gipsy Hill lies an intimate little bar and cafe called Domali, with sparkling fairy lights fronting a warming glow. Inside is simple but charming, with a single room of candles on tables and artwork available to buy along each wall.
Walking in with my girlfriend the night before Valentine’s Day (who goes out on February 14?), we were greeted by a nice waiter who soon had us perusing the pescitarian menu. While doing so I enjoyed a refreshing vodka-based cocktail (£6.95), while my other half tried a house white wine; fine at under £4.
She opted for the vegetable samosas and homemade chilli jam to start. They were indulgent, deep-fried and crispy. The accompanying sauce, thankfully, had a nourishing kick – so many are too sweet for savoury dishes. I went for the soup of Jerusalem artichoke and leek and at a restaurant gearing towards vegans, vegetarians or at most fish-only sorts I decided to try it full-on hippy. It was hearty and fragrant, though it did seem to lack a substantial base and could’ve done with a touch more seasoning. That said, with both under £5 there can be no complaints.
For our main courses the blackboard provided the most intriguing offerings. My seabass (£11.90) was flavoursome and tender, if marginally overcooked – though by no means extremely so. It was sat alongside some terribly hip kale, carrots, and a horseradish cream – all very seasonal indeed. But the real standout side of the dish was a beetroot rosti, which was sweet and satisfying and more importantly something fairly different.
My girlfriend meanwhile sat down to two sizable smoked haddock fish cakes. It must be said, if you’re hungry Domali is a winner – the portions are generous. We noted too how so often restaurants serve up something so Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference it’s all very pointless. But no, these had a sprinkling of love embedded in their fishy centre and at £10.90 were certainly worth the excursion. The salad alongside them was salad, while the chunky chips were, unsurprisingly, chunky and chippy.
We couldn’t manage anything more, sadly, even though the cakes looked exciting. But we’ve no reason not to go back one day. Domali was a lovely experience and vegetarian or not it’s worth a go.