In London’s Soho, the newly opened Paradise restaurant combines Sri Lankan family recipes with influences of Portuguese, Malay, South Indian and Dutch cuisines. The fiery tastes of the menu are inspired by owner Dominic Fernando’s grandmother’s cooking, and the restaurant design by the lively canteens of Colombo, delivered by Dan Preston, the London-based designer behind Smoking Goat and Kiln.
Whilat, ‘paradise’ might sound far away, the restaurant has a local and seasonal approach to sourcing food. In the kitchen, head chef Charith Priyadarshana, who grew up in a small village outside of Colombo, combines traditional techniques and flavours with British dayboat seafood delivered every morning, Oxford Down lamb reared by Tom Boothman in Linton and free-range eggs from Fluffets Farm in New Forest.
The menu starts off with a selection of ‘short eats’ such as arrack-infused cauliflower roti tacos, coconut labneh, and mutton shoulder rolls with fermented chilli. Then, it grows richer and deeper still with bigger plates such as date and pistachio hand-stretched godamba roti, jackfruit and cardamom biriyani or Highland pork cheek curry.
There’s a fusion of cultures and flavours on every plate and the weighty grey clay and ceramic plates are a calm antidote to each dish. Designed by Brixton-based husband and wife Sofia and Kosta, each plate has been individually illustrated with the curvy Sinhala script.
Fernando worked with London-based designer Preston to evoke the atmosphere of the modern eateries of Colombo and Galle, where straightforward industrial materials, outdoor dining, and an encroaching of nature define the dining experience. Combing functionality with craftsmanship, a tropical brutalist aesthetic was reached through unpolished cement surfaces, raw black metal details, hand-carved terracotta tiles by Reiko Kaneko.
The attention to detail extends to the cocktail list, concocted by head bartender, Ellen Visser, who combines Sri Lankan ingredients with artisanal spirits. The Rampe Martini mixes Colombo No7 Gin, Noilly Prat, coconut, and vinegar. While food and drink insider Zeren Wilson has curated a wine list of small batch, organic, natural and biodynamic wines.
Instead of a far-off destination, Paradise, it seems, is many places, flavours and people, all at once. After travelling from Colombo to Brixton through taste and touch in just one evening, cleanse your palette with fresh ginger beer or papaya and banana infused coconut water in-house.
Images courtesy of paradisesoho.com