What a brilliant find!
Tucked on an unprepossessing high street in Croydon, 1860 looks like a slightly sleazy cafe from the outside, and this impression isn't entirely dispersed by the low-key furnishing and sparse decoration. It's run by a husband and wife from Durban in South Africa, and serves a brilliant selection of South African Indian dishes. With their reliance on fresh flavours and aromatic, complex spices, the cuisine of South Africa's Indian population is very different from the creamy, oniony Bangladeshi food that most British "Indian" restaurants serve.
The food at 1860 is utterly wonderful. Our party ordered a selection of dishes which included bunny chow and a range of vegetarian side dishes. Bunny chow was perfect: a rich, densely-flavoured golden gravy packed with soft potatoes and chunks of chicken. Each of the other dishes had individual flavours and spicing - very different from other Indian restaurants, which often use the same sauce for everything; they ranged from the intense aniseed and fennel flavours of the lamb to the gentle, garlicky dhal.
Breads were generously sized and had the steamy golden crust of a freshly-made roti.
I cannot recommend 1860 highly enough. If you've never been to a South African Indian restaurant, don't be put off by the unfamiliar names - put yourself in the hands of the owners and trust them to make you a wonderful meal.
28 South End
Tel. (020) 8688 3839