A delicious judicious review


By - Tuesday 30th September, 2014

The Reds and Greens were well mixed at The Alchemist – and Brendan Walsh isn’t just talking about the salad


As the countdown to Shasha Khan’s David vs. Goliath battle against Sutton Council turns to single figures, the figures of his assembled supporters took a bit of a battering at The Alchemist, surely one of the quirkiest restaurants in Croydon.

Photo by Stephen Black. Used with permission.

The event was initiated by Shasha as much as a reminder to everyone to come to the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, WC2A 2LL on Thursday 9th October from 9:30. The hearing is expected to last two days and we wish Shasha and his team of Solicitors, particularly Barrister Justine Thornton, the very best. A large turnout of supporters will be a big help on the day.

Billed as a buffet lunch for a tenner, the event turned into a massive, multi-course, sit-down-and-stay communal event. I started the day as a man with a plan. Pop in at one o’ clock, shake a few hands, sample a few nibbles, catch up on the latest gossip from the STI team, leave my donation and hit the road to be unfashionably late for gardening duties at the Thornton Heath Community Garden from 2 until 4, pat myself on the back and put my feet with a cup of tea before starting the evening meal. Did my plan work? Let’s just say I had nearly twenty courses in one sitting.

After finding the restaurant, it was surprising to find many of the usual suspects seated at a long table nibbling at breads, olives and nuts and not a buffet at all. I took a seat and might as well have fastened myself in for two and a half hours as there was just no leaving the place once the goodies started coming.

Our exuberant host wouldn’t let us leave without our mains

The restaurant has a front room feel to it with a personal touch. It’s tiny. I wouldn’t call it a polished or slick operation. You tend not to get polished and slick with quirky, unless it’s contrived, and contrived it most certainly isn’t.

Photo by Stephen Black. Used with permission.

I was already stuffed with the dizzying array of starters, (hummus, aubergine puree, tzatziki, feta, taramasalata with a constant flow of breads) by the time the bean stews, chicken wings and livers came out. I thought I could make a quick getaway and stick to my plan but our exuberant host wouldn’t let us leave without our mains. My wife and I shared a look of “but we’ve just had our mains” horror. No, apparently that was merely the hot starters. At least I could wipe cooking an evening meal off today’s to-do list.

Another holding text to the gardening group was required. Might as well sit back and enjoy it. The mains were a blur of flavoured rice, vegetarian and meat tagines plus a red hot harissa paste for you to blend in to your food to get the pulses racing. We tried again to make for the door and were practically rugby tackled to the floor so that our host could give us some deserts to take away.

Our gardening chums were pleased to see us. That had a multitude of insults ready for the slackers. We were equally pleased to see the progress they had made, as they were now winding things up, for I fear that if we had tried to kneel down to do some weeding we would most likely have keeled over and had a snooze.

At the end of the meal I believe most diners gave more than just the £10 asked for – as the experience was very different from the one expected, and everyone was really there to fund the campaign. A good meal with good company is the sort of thing that lingers long in the memory.

Being able to walk out of a restaurant with a full stomach and a smiling face is always a pleasure. Being able to walk out into some fresh air is something we should never stop fighting for.

You can donate to the fund by clicking the link here. Thanks for your support.

Brendan Walsh

Brendan Walsh

Balham born but raised in Cork in the Republic of Ireland, moved to London permanently in 1994 and lived in Stockwell before settling in Thornton Heath in 2000. A Civil Engineer with unhealthy interests in DIY, CPFC and Irish Cricket. In 2009, swapped shouting at the TV for political activism. Went straight from omnivore to vegan in 2010 for a one month long experiment and haven’t looked back. Currently Tweeting on behalf of the Croydon Green Party.

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  • Stephen Giles

    Mains? I always thought that referred to electricity supply.