On the Askew Road, directly across the road from Sufi, sits Adams Cafe. It’s most likely that you’d pass right by without paying it much notice. By day, it’s an ordinary local cafe. By night, it’s a cosy restaurant serving food from Tunisia and Morocco. Run by a husband and wife team (he is Tunisian, she is English and affectionately known as ‘the boss’ by the former), the little cafe has been there for 15 years. I’m ashamed to say last week, we made our first visit there; I’ve passed it countless times but had never made it in. I’m not sure why. Of course, we went in the evening to try some of their north African dishes.
It took us a while to decide what we wanted to eat – everything looked superb on the menu. There were some very Moroccan dishes we recognised and a few Tunisian ones we didn’t and this being our first time there, we just ordered what appealed. Soon after we’d placed our orders, two little bowls of nibbles arrived at our table. Lightly pickled vegetables were a refreshing little bite and contrasted nicely with the braised spiced meatballs in the other bowl. A good start and I could barely wait for our food.
My starter was the Brik au Thon – fan of crispy pastry with tuna, egg & herb filling. The huge brik stood in a lemon holder, looking very much like a peacock strutting its stuff. The tuna was nicely spiced, the egg yolk was still runny, and the pastry perfectly crisp. Imagine two Neanderthals ripping apart their huge joint of meat; we must have looked like that. The menu states that you can replace a main course with two starters; we discussed starting with a brik and then following with two further briks.
Blai chose the Sardines Sauce Chermoula – fresh sardines with chermoula sauce. Two large, fresh, grilled sardines with blistered skins arrived with the chermoula sauce in a little filo pastry cup. The sauce was quite strongly flavoured with plenty of herbs, lemon and garlic but it went well with the equally strongly flavoured fish. The fins and tail were moreishly crispy.
To follow, I wanted couscous and ordered the Couscous à l’Agneau – with lamb on the bone cooked in the sauce. I received a large bowlful of couscous, a tureen full of lamb and vegetables in a tomato based broth, and a plate to put together my meal. Wikipedia tells us that all of north Africa partake of these steamed granules of semolina. The combination of the gentle broth with the couscous was supremely comforting (I think it’s that combo of carbs soaked in liquid until mushy that makes it so). There was a very generous serving of lamb chunks in the broth along with lots of vegetables and chickpeas in the broth. Slurp!
Blai saw the word lemon and then his eyes saw nothing else; for him, it had to be the Tagine de Poulet au Citron confit et Olives vertes – chicken, pickled lemons, green olives, potatoes. The chicken leg and potatoes were tender and sure enough, everything was infused with the flavour of the preserved lemons. But this is Morrocan, no? Apparently, a Tunisian tagine is more like a frittata. I didn’t see such a thing on their menu.
We decided to split a dessert as we were both already quite full. It would be a Crêpe Berbère – Moroccan-style pancake with honey sauce. What arrived didn’t look promising – a perfectly round crêpe trimmed with a single mint leaf and dusted with powdered sugar. It just didn’t look very exciting. However, this became a good lesson on how not to judge things by its cover – this crêpe was thicker than a usual French specimen and had a tight honeycomb texture throughout (if you’re familiar with injera, that Ethiopian flatbread, this had the same texture but with none of the fermentation). And it acted like a sponge, soaked through with a thin honey and lightly citrus sauce. It was utterly gorgeous!
The pricing of their food is simple. One main course with tea or coffee is £11.50. A Menu Gourmet is two courses for £14.50. A Menu Gastronomique is all three courses for £16.95. And as I mentionned above, you can subsitute two starters for one main dish. With a bottle of water and gratuity, the total for all our food came to just under £40 for the two of us. Fab food at a fair price. We’ll be back for sure.
77 Askew Road
London W12 9AH