Review of 'Hoppers'

I have always wanted to visit Hoppers having heard so many good things about it. Serving classic Sri Lankan dishes it has to be a bit of a rarity even in London. The food is reminiscent of India but featuring more tropical flavours such as coconut and pineapple.

We visited on a Thursday for lunch time, just after they opened at noon and even at that we were asked if we had a reservation and told that as we did not we would have to leave by 1 pm. The small clean and contemporary restaurant is on the corner of Wigmore and James Street (known for it's many restaurants and the adjacent St. Christopher's Place). The main dining area has views out onto the surrounding streets with a small bar off to the side (the only toilet is accessed directly from this space as well near the cashier).

Interior Bar Area

The two-sided placemats contain the food menu with the first side divided into “Snacks”, “Short East+Bites”, “Kothus”, “Rice+Roasts”, “Hoppers+Dosas” (savoury pancakes), “Karis” (curries), “Chutneys+Sambols”, “Sides”, “Desserts” and “After-Dinner Tipples” while the reverse of the menu has the two set menus “Taste of Hoppers” (£42.50pp) and “Veggie Taste of Hoppers” (£40pp) as well as a glossary to help navigate you through the unfamiliar terms used on the menu. Would that we have had time we would have gone for the “Taste of Hoppers” menu but as it is we just ordered from the a la carte. A small separate menu on each table contains the list of drinks which include “Our classics” consisting of various cocktails, “Beers”, “Softs” and “Wines”. As non drinkers we were happy to discover that the “Softs” did not contain the bog-standard carbonated drinks you can get anywhere but rather an assortment of non-alcoholic cocktails.

House Ginger Beer

Our drinks arrived a short time later. Mine was a “House Ginger Beer” (£5.5) which was delightfully hot but with a strong, unexpected, sweetness that provided a wonderful contrast.

Spiced Pineapple Lassi

My companion had the refreshing “Spiced Pineapple Lassi” (£5, “pineapple - yoghurt - kithul treacle - cinnamon”) which was delicately spiced with the yoghurt flavour not overpowered by the pineapple. Having been familiar with the standard lassi drinks found in most Indian restaurants this was quite a nice change.

Hopper and Black Pork Kari

We wanted to try the trademark dishes of the restaurant so taking the advice of the menu I ordered a standard “Hopper” (£5.5, described as a “bowl shaped fermented rice and coconut milk pancake”) with a side “Black Pork Kari” (£12.5) as an accompaniment. The hopper was wonderfully light and bubbly, ripping easily to dip into the luscious curry which was full of fatty, tender pork in the most pleasant, mellow but rich sauce I have ever had in any Indian restaurant though with a few whole chilis that should best be avoided if you don't want your head blown off.

Podi Dosa and Root Vegetable Kari

My companion had the flamboyant looking “Podi Dosa” (£5.5) accompanied by the “Root Vegetable + Cashew Kari” (£10) which was triumphantly placed in front of her, causing her to pause for a moment to admire the large funnel shaped pancake. The kari (curry) was also quite nicely spiced but lacked any huge amount of flavour so slightly disappointed but the dosa was lovely and light despite it's large size.

We were absolutely blown away by the food and drink which were delivered fresh and promptly to the table. What caused a bit more of a pause was the cost which at £52.50 (including 12.5% service charge and a £1 charity donation) for two people having a main and a drink each was quite a lot of money for what, at the end of the day, was not a huge meal. But, it was absolutely delicious. The service was also very friendly and welcoming in a relaxed atmosphere. We will be looking to come back to work our way through the other unfamiliar delights on the menu, perhaps next time the “Taste of Hopper” menu?

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2023-04-06

Cuisine: Sri Lankan

Address: 77 Wigmore St, London W1U 1QE ENGLAND

Public Transport: TUBE Bond Street

Location: London (England) - Marylebone



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