Being back down South of the River on a temporary basis has many benefits. It offers the opportunity for quality time with family and locally based friends. To discover new places that have popped up over the last few years; hopping on a bus to Brixton and checking out the Village Market (still to do) for example or working greedily through new eateries in Balham and Clapham. To revisit old, reliable favourites - like Domali.
Domali is a vegetarian-pescetarian café in Crystal Palace. It is a firm favourite with the locals and has been in business for over seventeen years, standing proudly on Westow Street amongst an eclectic mix of restaurants, pubs, bookshops and bakeries.
With a contemporary feel and local art displayed on the walls (for perusing or purchasing), it is a smart but relaxed affair. The atmosphere is bustling and vibrant and the staff are friendly but leave you to your own devices which means you can enjoy a lively Sunday brunch with friends or a quiet lunch, just you and a book. Domali pulls in an interesting mixture of creative, trendy types, devoted locals and large groups of families and friends so there is never a dull moment. Free WiFi ensures there are plenty of iPods/Pads/Phones on display, with any online activity fuelled by the great coffee on offer. There is also a seductive garden out back which is perfect for alfresco dining.
It is the food that draws me back time and time again though – British, Mediterranean and Asian-inspired fare. You can have any meal your heart (and stomach) desires; breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, pre-supper cocktails and nibbles or candlelit evening meal. Domali serves vegetarian and fish dishes exclusively but carnivores need not look away now. The menu is extensive and the portions are ginormous enough to satisfy the most hungry of diners with imaginative and fresh flavours.
Doorstop sandwiches come in a variety of wholesome combinations (the hummus and carrot is especially good) and the salads are substantial (vegetarian bacon anyone?). The BCM – Baked beans, Cheddar and Marmite on two hunks of farmhouse toast will defeat the deadliest of hangover, but if you are after something a little more refined, the smoked haddock fish cakes with chunky chips, tartar sauce and salad do the trick too I've been told. Add to the mix an array of regular and changing specials, delectable side dishes, fresh fruit smoothies, and homemade cakes and desserts and the result is greedy satisfaction.
Arrive early before the crowds get there to avoid the queue. Grab the squishy leather couch positioned by the window, order a steaming mug of the decadent but divine White Hot Chocolate, a Domali legend, and watch the locals go by. A perfectly brilliant afternoon in this unique Crystal Palace institution.