Station Crescent, SE3

Coriander is a decent local Bangladeshi/Indian restaurant. It’s nothing flashy, but it’s not horribly old-fashioned or seedy either. Just somewhere serving the local community quietly and with a smile. It’s part of a very small chain (three other restaurants in East London) but you’d never know.

It’s where Thyme used to be (does every restaurant on this spot need to be named after a herb, I wonder) which though I desperately wanted to like never really hit the spot for me. It was nice enough, I went there a few times but it didn’t really inspire me to go back, which is what a local restaurant needs to do. A shame, as I like modern European cuisine.

I was a bit ho-hum when Coriander arrived – another Indian restaurant – and opposite the Royal Nepalese at that. But it’s managed to pass my persnickety-ness and we go on a reasonably regular basis.

It’s simple and modern – terracotta walls with a little dado, sparkly lights in the ceiling, crisp white tablecloths and high-backed leather chairs in the main dining room, simple round tables and an omnipresent TV in the bar area. You wouldn’t catch me having a drink there – that Telly’s just too overbearing- but the restaurant area next door is really rather good.

My advice would be not to sit in the window if you arrive early. This is because the halogen street light outside will suddenly switch on during your meal and you’ll go from being bathed in rather nice soft outside lamps to feeling like you’re on a football pitch. If you arrive later you’ll be able to see where the halogen shadow stops and seat yourself appropriately. Of course by that point it may have got crowded and you won’t have a choice…

The lamp-thing is not a major problem – just something we’ve noticed rather than been annoyed by on occasion.

The food is fresh, well-prepared and nicely presented. The poppadoms are crisp and light; the accompanying pickles also good and not out of a jar. The mains (we ordered our secret ‘control’ menu, of course) were bright, tasty and not too oily. Take note, though. If they warn you that a dish will be hot, believe them, ok? We don’t want tears before bedtime. There are plenty of nice, lightly spiced options too. I was particularly taken with the presentation – lovely brass vessels and china with Coriander’s name and logo.

There were children in there the other night while we were there, who were being treated very well – they seemed to have a good time. There were various different groups of people; not just your usual couples. This is not really a “destination” restaurant. This is a local, for the community, for people to return to, and the service and food reflect a place that is counting on repeat custom.

So – shock – another restaurant I actually like. can’t eat there too often or I’ll be the size of a train, but as an occasional treat – yummy…

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