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Here's Where You Should Eat In London This Week

Apollo Banana Leaf is the Pride Of Tooting.

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Any self-respecting local of SW17 will know all about Apollo Banana Leaf, a quaintly ramshackle little curry house a just-slightly-too-far-for-comfort walk from Tooting Broadway tube.

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They'll know about the kitschy décor (a slightly faded mountain scene painted on one of the walls), the scruffy high-backed chairs, the paper tablecloths. But they'll also know that the décor is not why anyone goes to Apollo Banana Leaf. Here's what they do go for.

First things first, bring your own booze.

Apollo Banana Leaf is BYO, so on your trek there make sure to drop by an off-licence. The Tesco near Tooting Broadway is as good a place as any, a couple of big Cobras should see you through.
Chris Pople / Via cheesenbiscuits.blogspot.co.uk

Apollo Banana Leaf is BYO, so on your trek there make sure to drop by an off-licence. The Tesco near Tooting Broadway is as good a place as any, a couple of big Cobras should see you through.

And get there early.

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ABL take reservations, but on busy nights (hell, on any night) finding a table can be tricky if you don't have a booking. So get there early – 6pm is good, or as near to that as you can manage.

Choose the mutton rolls.

Snacks at ABL come in various familiar and not-so-familiar forms, but my tip is to go for the mutton rolls (breadcrumbed and greaselessly deep-fried with a rich spicy filling) and – if available – the green banana bhaji, both of which go best dipped in the bright red house chilli sauce.
Chris Pople / Via cheesenbiscuits.blogspot.co.uk

Snacks at ABL come in various familiar and not-so-familiar forms, but my tip is to go for the mutton rolls (breadcrumbed and greaselessly deep-fried with a rich spicy filling) and – if available – the green banana bhaji, both of which go best dipped in the bright red house chilli sauce.

Then move on to masala.

Picking highlights from such a vast menu – especially when so much of it is so good – is a bit of a thankless task, but I particularly recommend both the aubergine and cod masalas, with a plain dosa on the side for soaking up the leftover sauce.
Chris Pople / Via cheesenbiscuits.blogspot.co.uk

Picking highlights from such a vast menu – especially when so much of it is so good – is a bit of a thankless task, but I particularly recommend both the aubergine and cod masalas, with a plain dosa on the side for soaking up the leftover sauce.

And go for the special too.

Instagram: @ste_levy / Via cheesenbiscuits.blogspot.co.uk

You can’t go to ABL without trying at least one ’65 dish (the origins of which are shrouded in mystery; it’s either because it was invented in 1965 or made use of 65-day-old chickens). Chicken, or prawn in a shocking luminescent purple coating then fried, this South Indian speciality is crunchy, moist, spicy and satisfying in all the right ways.

One more thing, you've got to try the mutton.

“Devilled” dishes are a traditional Sri Lankan thing, and the ABL devilled mutton is a fine example, cubes of meltingly tender meat in a dense, tacky sauce of a thousand complex spices. It’s shot through with crisp fried curry leaves and onion, and is all kinds of brilliant.
Chris Pople / Via cheesenbiscuits.blogspot.co.uk

“Devilled” dishes are a traditional Sri Lankan thing, and the ABL devilled mutton is a fine example, cubes of meltingly tender meat in a dense, tacky sauce of a thousand complex spices. It’s shot through with crisp fried curry leaves and onion, and is all kinds of brilliant.

And the best thing? It's cheap as chips.

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Regulars will moan that the prices at ABL have crept up over the years, which inevitably they have. But all this means is that what was once “ludicrously good value” is now merely “very, very cheap” – the bill per head, helped by the BYO policy, will rarely top £15 even if you way over-order, meaning that what is probably the finest restaurant south of the river is also the best value. There aren’t, in short, many reasons not to fall in love with the place. An institution.

Every week we’ll recommend a new place to eat in London. Let us know in the comments where you think we should feature next!

Previously featured:MeatliquorSilk Road
Rebecca Hendin/BuzzFeed

Previously featured:

Meatliquor

Silk Road

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CORRECTION

ABL take bookings. An earlier version of this post said that they didn't.