1= Kentish Canteen
1= Mario’s Cafe
3. Map Studio Cafe
Our corner of North London, if you look carefully, is spoilt by the sheer range of food options, from Ethiopian to Pakistani, Sicilian to Japanese. And so votes in this category covered a huge range of places, with high street stalwarts Phoenicia Food Hall and Harry’s Deli picking up a good few (the latter long overdue a feature for its excellent fish counter and butcher, not to mention their signature ‘ready to eat’ roast quail).
Other faves included Parliament Hill’s excellent Saturday Farmer’s Market, The Vine, Satuma, Mamma Mia, Tolli and The Junction (the top choice for Sunday roast). There was even a vote for Pedro’s Cafe (maybe you can illuminate us?) although none, sadly, for the rejigged Renoir or poshed-up boozer The Lion & Unicorn.
And there are 3 clear winners. In third place is the lovely Map Studio Cafe: yes, it can feel like a rickety throwback to another era, and service can be a little amateurish (and our feeling is that the coffee should really up its game) but the vibe is bohemian, there’s jazz on the turntable, and the tasty, unpretentious food is great value (and very popular with the Crimea’s influx of French families). Great breakfasts, healthy salads, melty-soft lasagne, moist carrot cake. Our suggestion? A candlelit evening service with BYO wine.
In joint first place are two very different eateries. The first is the evergreen Mario’s Cafe – a surprisingly popular choice in our minds, but perhaps a revisit to this neighbourhood Italian caff is overdue (its miniscule interior is always packed whenever we go past). Can anyone recommend a favourite dish there?
And in joint first too is the Kentish Canteen, which after only a year in operation, already feels like an NW5 institution, with its mouthwatering eggs florentine (above), seasonal salad plates, artisan breads, and brownies. Best offer of all is the £10 daytime deal (main course + glass of wine before 7pm). But be warned: it’s not one to take for granted – we passed recently on a weekday evening and it looked rather quiet. So go support it for dinner as well as daytime.
Naturally there’ll be places we’ve missed. So do us all a favour, people, and add your recommendation below…
Words: Stephen Emms
Tomorrow: Best Boozer.