A Sunday afternoon at Women of Letters had us in Northcote seeking dinner. There are a lot of great restaurants in the neighbourhood that we would have gladly revisited - Japanese, Vietnamese, pub food, pizza - but there was also the Sri Lankan restaurant Sigiri, which I've had bookmarked for six years. Our companion Carol was keen to try it out, so we waited until their six o'clock opening time ticked past and secured their second table of the evening.
The menu's a great one - scroll down and click through all eight pages yourself. The first one points out that they've marked vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and similarly adaptable items and they faithfully carry this through all sections of the menu. There are less dairy traps for vegans here compared to the average Indian restaurant and a different suite of dishes all round - wade and those/dosa entrees, a couple of soups, an extensive selection of pickles, ten vego mains, a couple of salads and a bread section dominated by roti and hoppers.
We shared three mains (clockwise from top left): a thick, reliable parippu dahl ($10), smoky fried batu pehi (eggplant, $11) and a creamy kaju hodi (cauliflower and cashews in coconut milk, $11). A sinhala achcharu pickle (with green papaya and jackfruit, $6) contributed tanginess and spice.
We mopped it all up with (left-right) steamed rice ($3), a stick-to-your-ribs coconut pol roti ($3.50) and a thin, crispy appa/hopper ($2). I sipped at a frothy rose water-infused lasi ($4.50) too.
Though the main servings were quite small, the accompanying starches ensured we were satisfied, and at the very reasonable price of $16 per person. Everything tasted great and we'd like to go back to try more. The only flaw was slow, slightly distant service - waiting 20 minutes for drinks was pretty perplexing given they seemed to be managing three dine-in tables and one takeaway order. Thankfully we were in no rush, so it was a pleasure to relax, eat and chat in this quiet long-serving restaurant.
Aside from a mixed review on Words and Flavours, there's a mostly positive account of Sigiri on vegan about town and a further thumbs-up from The Tasty Dozen.
338 High St, Northcote
menu: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Accessibility: Entry includes two steps up. Tables inside are moderately crowded and lighting is dim. We ordered at the table and paid at a high counter. The toilet is a single small unisex cubicle, accessed via a narrow and uneven path, with a couple of steps down and up.