Essence of India, 171 Brockley Road

For years, The Essence of India was one of those troublesome local restaurants that just wasn't good enough to support. With the consistently outstanding Babur not far too far away and new kid Masala Wala winning fans in Brockley Cross, a sub-par option.

More than that, it occupied an important spot on the local high street - denying another team a shot at running something better and serving as a deterrent to any other restaurateurs who might have looked through its empty windows and concluded that local demand was too weak to sustain restaurants.

Convalescence of India

Now, a new team has taken over and brought with them fresh conviction. New manager Shamim writes:

"We took over with the view of providing something that the local residents actually seemed to want - a classic Indian restaurant. The previous owners sold to us in July, and most of the management team and staff now are immediate family.

"The kitchen is headed by a new Head Chef who has over 30 years experience working in Indian restaurants in the UK and Europe. With what appears to be a shortage of good Indian chef's in the UK, we were lucky to get him!

Iridescence of India

"We've updated the decor and lighting but kept it simple - some customers have said that it feels fresh and homely. The artwork on the walls and candles are all bespoke and made by a new artist, who also happens to be family. The menu is new and we encourage customers to try something different instead of playing safe.

"We've kept some staples on the menu but they may taste a little different (we hope for the better). Our largest section is the vegetarian section - typically these would be side dishes but we've turned it into a proper menu selection and put some thought into it. I think the Essence Biriyani, Essence Mixed Grill and Aubergine Joypur have been our most popular dishes.

"We've also revised the drinks menu and are experimenting with different Indian desserts. I would love to hear feedback from any readers who've been since we've taken over."