Restaurant review: Tigris, Fiveways Junction, Waddon

By - Tuesday 18th August, 2015

Waddon has become a cradle of culinary delights for Paddy Blewer

445 Purley Way, Croydon CR0 4RG

Time from East Croydon:  25 minutes /  15 minutes 119

Photo by Tigris restaurant, used with permission.

I’m sure that my fellow residents of Waddon would agree that we’ve always been poorly served for sit-down restaurants within walking distance of the station. Many years ago there was a better-than-it-had-to-be curry house on Stafford Road opposite the Waddon pub that specialised in south Indian fish, but that went the way of the dodo in the mid 2000s, as it wasn’t really a traditional post-pub curry house. Of course there are the good Cantonese/Sichuan/Indo-Chinese options in the Wing Yip centre, but there’s nothing else.

Now we have something new, and it’s something really quite exciting.

Tigris is situated directly on Fiveways junction (meeting point not of two great rivers but of the A23 and A232) and appears to be a kebab shop. Two donner/shwarma in the window confirm this first impression. A second look, however suggests, something else. There’s a fairly wide and deep seating area. It’s nice and airy, with sympathetic lighting, smart tables and cutlery. There’s a juice bar in the back. A sound system plays Arab dance music. Then there’s the name. The Tigris is one of the world’s ancient rivers, cradle of a great civilisation, home to imaginative eastern Mediterranean style cuisine.

Tabbouleh zingy with lemon and bouncy, juicy kibbeh

What we have here is an Arab restaurant set up to look enough like a kebab shop to serve two markets. That it does both well is a very good thing for my fellow Waddonians. I’ve been twice, and both visits were excellent. The first time I was on my own, quite late on a Friday evening. There were a number of fellow diners, showing the varied ethnic and socio-economic mix that is typical of our borough. There was a relaxing hum of contented conversation. Everyone was enjoying their food. A good first impression.

Photo by Tigris restaurant, used with permission.

The good vibe continued with the bustling, charming owner. I ordered and we chatted a little as I was born in the Middle East and have worked around it for some time. Very fresh tabbouleh was zingy with lemon. I also had bouncy, juicy kibbeh, which had a crunch of pine nut and subtle spicing. These were very tasty and and very authentic starters. Top quality Arab coffee with cardamoms finished what was a very exciting first experience.

This is as good as it gets

My second visit was with my wife, our three year old son and our baby daughter. A genuine personal welcome was supplemented by real warmth with the kids. The food was genuinely outstanding. A tarragon and sumac flavoured chickpea soup was a lovely amuse bouche. A mixed mezze plate was excellent. Silky, rich hummus and smoky, earthy babaganouj were complemented by great bread that was the perfect combination of fluffy and crisp. Crunchy salads with eye widening dressing that could be the dictionary definition of ‘fresh’. Felafel that were crunchy on the outside and smooth on the inside, given a little extra by the addition of toasted fennel seeds.

We shared a mixed grill that was about as good as it gets. Lemon and sumac chicken wings with a barbecue char. Minced lamb kebabs with thyme and garlic. Chicken kebabs with a deep, rich marinade of cumin, lemon garlic and yoghurt. Bread soaking up the juices and a nice counterpoint to all the protein provided by barbecue-roasted peppers, onions and tomatoes.

This is seriously good food, at a price a fraction of what one would pay in south west London’s Lebanese restaurants. When combined with lovely family run service, a light and comfortable atmosphere, great coffee and an unlicensed bring-your-own bottle policy, Waddon has a real dining gem. Let’s hope we can keep it.

Paddy Blewer

Paddy has lived in the Croydon / Sutton area since 1983 and in Waddon from 2001- 2015. A communications advisor in the City, he loves the variety of Croydon, particularly its options for eating and drinking and its great parks for the kids. A sports nut, supporting Munster, London Irish, Surrey CCC and Spurs, he has a sneaking regard for Palace, despite having a Millwall fan for a dad.

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  • Sue Baker

    This restaurant sounds great, I’ll give it a whirl, I only live in Purley!

    • Bev

      Went there last Friday and it was brilliant. Better than the Edgeware Rd.

  • Erik

    Great food especialy the tabhouleh!!


  • Andrew Dickinson

    sounds good Paddy. thanks for the review. i’ve been wondering what it was like and this will give me an the missus the confidence to try it