The Nice Green Cafe on Fortess Road didn’t quite run the distance, did it?
But this week the outlet, on the parade adjoining Jessica de Lotz and SK Vintage, relaunches as Cafe Palestina. As well as the national cuisine, there’ll be the chance to buy crafts like pottery and glass, olive oil and soap, says co-owner Nandita Dowson.
Born in Camden, and now living in Kentish Town, for the past 14 years Nandita has been the director of the charity CADFA (Camden Abu Dis Friendship Association), which works in the UK to promote awareness about the human rights situation in Palestine.
Now based downstairs, the charity will be supported and enhanced by the new groundfloor cafe. “I’m really proud of the great projects that we’ve been involved in to date with local schools, colleges and community centres,” she says. “We’ve become well known for youth exchanges with young people from here, and young Palestinians which prove to be so good, educationally and socially, for them all.
“We work respectfully and inclusively with people from different religions, backgrounds and viewpoints, and aim to build people’s interest in human rights for everyone. The cafe will encourage and support such projects – but quite apart from that, will be a nice place to meet your neighbours and eat.”With that in mind, the daytime offer includes falafel, hummus, babaganoush, olives and tabbouleh, served in pretty pottery from Palestine and accompanied by olive oil and zaatar (a thyme-based herb mixture). There are also pastries with spinach or cheese, and meat or vegetarian kibbeh.
“Palestinian cookery is healthy, Mediterranean and tasty without being spicy hot. There is plenty of choice for vegans as well,” says Nandita. “And, because we like them, we’re making a good variety of home-made English cakes.”They’ll also be soon serving hot Palestinian food on Friday evenings and Sunday lunches – three-course extravaganzas including Palestinian stuffed vegetables or rice dishes like maklouba, with pastries with dates and other delicacies. There’s no alcohol licence but BYOB is welcome, she says, making it a rare example in this part of Kentish Town.
What else? Expect events with speakers, film or music. “Coming up are Palestinian Arabic classes on Saturdays, craft and cooking workshops and very much more,” she says.