Adam's Cafe

77 Askew Road, London, England, W12 9AH, United Kingdom

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Adam’s Café has been trading for an impressive two decades, no mean feat for a local restaurant. It is located in an unpromising site on the busy Askew Road, and trades as a regular café at lunch, but a Tunisian restaurant by night. The chef is Tunisian, and his English wife runs the front of house. The dining room has yellow walls, green floor and some prints of maps of Tunisia on the walls. There are rather uncomfortable café style chairs but linen tablecloths. The wine list is a bit of a joke: choices such as “St Emilion £14” reads like something from a restaurant in Somerset from the 1970s. Amongst the dross was a real surprise: Chateau Musar 1996 (though it is really 2001) at £24 compared to a retail price of at least £17. Apparently they are about to revamp the wine list, which would be welcome, though pesky details like the growers seem to be a step too far based on the bemused look on the face of the manager when I suggested it. Wine glasses also appear to have been bought at a car boot sale circa 1970, with no tulip shape to keep the aroma of the wine from dissipating. The menu is a very fair £16.95 for three courses. Bread was a choice of white and brown slices, and was decent: bought in from the large commercial supplier Delice de France. 

I was surprised to see an amuse-bouche: pickled vegetables and minced lamb balls: the pickles were decent, though the lamb balls badly needed the harissa they were served with to liven them up (11/20). I began with a pair of sardines, which sadly were cooked too long and so were rather dried out, served with a pleasant chermoula sauce, a Moroccan sauce made from coriander, garlic, lemon and olive oil; this was actually quite good, the lemon giving a welcome freshness. The dish was 11/20, though the sauce was better. My wife tried Brik au thon, a filo pastry sandwich containing tuna and herbs with a poached egg. Although the pastry was rather greasy, the overall dish worked well, the egg and tuna a sensible combination  (easily 12/20). 

For main course I had tagine with chicken, olives, potato and pickled lemons. The meat was certainly tender, dropping off the bone, and the lemon added welcome acidity, though the overall effect was something of a mush (11/20). Sea bass was basic but cooked decently, served with adequate bought-in chips (11/20). Desserts appear to be almost entirely bought-in from outside suppliers.  We tried Crepe Barbere, Moroccan style pancake with honey sauce, which was, to be honest, just bad. The pancake batter was over-fermented, as evidenced by the holes in the batter, and the honey sauce appeared to be absent without leave (10/20). I ate bought-in baklava, which was better.

Front of house service from the co-owner was efficient if appearing somewhat bemused at times. Overall, it is a pleasant neighbourhood place that shows mostly tolerable technique, and it clearly appeals to the locals, with its interesting menu and low prices. 

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