Domali Cafe the sequel – Crystal Palace

A few months ago I walked past one of my favourite local haunts, and the windows were blacked out….the panic set in. Their garden is our go to place in the summer months, and their food (and cocktails) have been consistently good in all the years I have lived here.

It’s just a refurbishment. Relief.

When Domali did re-open around Christmas, what was revealed was a complete transformation. Not just a lick of paint – a proper change and not just to the walls.

I chatted to lovely owner Alison (the ali in Domali) when I popped in for a coffee prior to this visit and talked through some of the changes with her. She said she wanted to introduce a bar concept so people can just come for drinks of an evening. Better still they wanted to use local producers for the food and drink  but more of that later.

The restaurant since its original launch in 1996, has been pescatarian, so perhaps one of the most interesting additions to the revamped menu are a few meaty things. There’s now several items (ethically sourced) that sit alongside more familiar (and new) fish, veggie and vegan items.

So back to this evening. It’s a cold grey Wednesday, and as it’s always done Domali looks cosy and inviting from the outside. If ever the new buzzword Hygge could apply to a restaurant it’s here. Gorgeous foresty wallpaper, grey muted walls, dimmed lights, stripped wood and candles create a lovely Scandi feel.

Comfy sofas perch at the front – perfect for people watching and close to the bar. There’s an open kitchen (which I’m a fan of), and the once open staircase has now been closed off creating a much cosier feel.

The place is busy – great to see on a dreary weeknight – a few local faces dotted around. Drinks first. As  I said at the start, local suppliers now feature on the menu. I’m a big gin fan so am delighted to finally try Little Bird gin, distilled in Peckham. My friend chooses a Southpaw amber ale from the Gipsy Hill Brewing Co (lovely lads) down the road. My other friend (yes I have two) picks an organic rose wine – nicely priced at £4.45.

 

The gin is delicious and excellently presented with pink grapefruit and a choice of Fever Tree tonics. The Southpaw beer is a hit, as is the wine.

I must mention the gins at this point which is another new focus of the revamped venue. You’ll also find Jensens (Bermondsey), Sipsmith (East London), Beefeater (Vauxhall) and Warner Edwards – the rhubarb that they use originally coming from Queen Vic’s garden.

 

Ok food. As meat is a new addition I decide to road test the burger. All the meat comes from a Bermondsey butcher who own a Scottish farm, and it’s pasture fed – tick. It’s juicy and delicious, lovely bun and with the familiar Domali chips with garlic mayo that I swap from the french fries they come with. I *may* have added a spot of Applewood Cheddar in there too.

One friend picks a Keralan vegan curry – a huge portion bursting with chickpeas and okra served with rice and a minty relish. My other friend goes for a portion of calamari which she says is really good.

A few items from the old menu have disappeared – freshly squeezed juices, nicoise salad. I would imagine if there are enough asks though some items may reappear.

Domali’s have been brave with their changes after sticking with a trusted formula for so long. The prices are still reasonable though and the staff are great.

I think it’s totally paid off I can’t wait to go back.