Safa, Indian restaurant

A new, modern Indian restaurant, Safa (22, Camberwell Church Street) is all about clean, muted colours and tasteful lighting — a far cry from the more traditional ‘Taj Mahal’ style.

We went on Sunday night at about 7.45pm and were the only customers; a couple of other tables arrived during our time there, but it seems that takeaway is their big money-spinner, judging by the constant stream of food coming out of the kitchen — and the very long wait for our starter.

We shared mixed Pakora to start with, crisply fried and fresh-tasting vegetables. For the main course I had Saag Gosht; the lamb was beautifully soft and the sauce not too greasy. Delicious. Ana ate Chicken Tikka Karai, with some amazingly tender chicken pieces. We’ve eaten takeaway from there before, but it was even better coming straight out of the kitchens. The starter, Poppadums, two mains, one rice, one Naan bread and two beers came to £40, which isn’t cheap but isn’t extortionate.

Back in my first time in Camberwell, Zara’s Kitchen was the place to beat for curry. I don’t know what it’s like now, but I have to say I’m not really tempted to try while Safa is so good.

Author: Peter

Long-time resident of Camberwell, author of this blog since July 2004.

13 thoughts on “Safa, Indian restaurant”

  1. Safa is probably the best curry in South London, the quality of food is brilliant so good in fact that we used to order one every other night. (now reduced to every Friday) Having eaten at Chutney Mary, Rasa and the three monkeys, Safa is a much more reasonable option, OK it costs more than the Chutney in Herne Hill and takes longer but the end result is a quality meal with fresh ingredients, the dishes are also interesting and attractively presented. I particularly recommend the tiger prawn balchou, the lamb phal (very hot), this combined with a few vegetable side dishes is the perfect meal. You will not be disappointed.

  2. I’ve been out of Camberwell for nearly two years now, but during the time I lived there (’01-’03) Zara’s Kitchen was the best curry around! When I return perhaps I’ll check out this Safa joint, but I feel I’d dishonour Zara’s..

  3. I felt a bit guilty even trying food at SAFA, as it felt like I was cheating on New Dewaniam (Camberwell New Road), a Indian restaurant of the finest quality. I have been a dedicated New Dewaniam customer for ages, and though it is a slightly more affordable option I have to admit SAFA is in a class of its own. Everything is always incredibly fresh and perfectly cooked. SAFA is a gem. The in-laws are over tonight and we’re getting SAFA for sure. Highly recommended!

  4. The meaty Lincolnshire sausages were a novel idea, but did not go well with boiled rice. Nice decorations and friendly service apart from the Barry Manillo CD interupting the ambiance.

  5. Safa.…
    We took our friends who were visiting from Italy to Safa for their first Indian meal and it was amazing. They and we were very impressed at the quality and freshness of the food. It is not the cheapest Indian I have had but is the best so far and I will definetley return again and again.

  6. I am not much a fan. See there’s a branch open in pecknam. Opposite the flower shop, rond the corner from the eel and pie place.

  7. Used to do best food in the area, but they must have got a new ‘chef’. Have just got a takeaway from them and it was really really awful — each of the 3 dishes!Sweet milky spinach, salty watery dhal and so-hot-they-were-uneatable mushrooms. How disappointing — I’m not going there again!

  8. I think it did have a slight dip in October but on our most recent visits its been as good as it used to be. Safa is my Indian restaurant of choice in the area although Ive never had a takeaway from there ‑always eaten in.

    I have resolved over the years not to go to Indian restaurants which do takeaway on Friday evenings as I have found that the service and attention is all on the takeaways rather than the diners.

    For takeaways I would recommend Pappadom on Camberwell New Road — — but have yet to try JJs sop cant say how it compares

  9. JJ’s is stonkingly delicious and in terms of value for money, stratospheric. Probably because of the nature of their wider business, they offer 5‑star food, fit for Hiltons, at Southampton Way prices. They are on Southampton Way on the corner of Rainbow Street.

  10. Food isn’t too bad but the service is atrocious!
    Ill mannered and extremely arrogant staff let what could be a gem of a restaurant down.
    Also never get food delivered. I made an order, it arrived an hour late. Considering I live a short walk away its unacceptable!

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