Sparrow, Lewisham: restaurant review

The south-east borough of Lewisham gets a proper neighbourhood restaurant to go with its (seemingly never-ending) status as one of London's up and comers

What's the draw:

A defiantly unsexy spot right on the busy main artery through Lewisham makes a surprising place to find a hip-but-casual new neighbourhood restaurant, but Sparrow really works. Expect interesting, seasonal small plates in a friendly and bustling setting.

The list – whether you're on wine, beer, spirits or softs – is short but sweet, with beers from Hackney's Five Points brewery and a compact selection of European wines that's nonetheless got plenty of interest in it by the glass and the bottle, from big, sun-drenched Puglian reds to elegant Mosel rieslings. Keep an eye out for the apero of the day, too – ours was a gluggable combo of vermouth rosso, house-made spiced plum bitters, tonic and lemon.

The husband and wife team that heads up Sparrow has created a menu that's very much small-plate focused, with an eclectic bunch of dishes that point to the duo's stints at St. John, BAO, Merchant's Tavern and The Square. Generous hunks of glazed ham with a punchy rhubarb chutney were as good as you'd hope, while a kohlrabi salad dotted with brown shrimp and capers tasted as much of the garden as it did of the sea. Pork belly – skin salty, crispy and wafer thin – worked well with a sweet and aromatic harissa, though it arrived alongside 'bang bang' beef short rib with anchovy-miso aubergine, which crammed what felt like all the umami in the world into one dish. Each might really have sung with a lighter, less unctuous partner.

Small plates from £5.50; wine from £4.50 by the glass. 2 Rennell Street, Lewisham, SE13 7HD;