Age: Just over half a year. That’s gone quickly, hasn’t it?
Previous incarnation: Nice Green Café had a brief spell in the spot, and before then it was the Thai Café. Hands up anyone who ever saw it open? (Prior to that, rumour has it that the place housed a brothel – a nod to this strip’s chequered past.)
So what goes on there? Here you have an eatery, shop and events venue set up to support CADFA (Camden Abu Dis Friendship Association). They serve mezze, falafel, homemade soups and cakes by day, and put on events and supper clubs by evening (think bean and tomato stew, or one-pot meat and rice).
What do I eat? Opt for the All Day Breakfast, a selection of traditional dishes presented in homemade pottery (they source these from Hebron in the West Bank), served with plenty of warm flatbread. Standout is the moutabal (similar to baba ganoush) – slightly nutty, just the right side of smoky, and adorned with pearls of pomegranate.
Also tasty is the finely chopped tabouleh, packed full of herbs and bursting with freshness: a steal at £4.90. Add in a cheeky side of vine leaves stuffed with rice and veg (more filling please) and kibbeh filled with fragrant minced lamb and finely chopped onion and it’s a pretty substantial meal. All for £7.30, no less.
What do I drink? Sip on coffee of your choice, tea or juice (orange or apple and mango when we visit). It’s BYO of an evening – yay (see, below for three more we rate).
The interior? In one word: homely. A mismatch of wooden tables covered with patterned vinyl tablecloths fill the airy space, scenes of Palestine adorn the walls: landscapes of the country and pictures of yummy-looking national plates. There’s a simple open-plan kitchen complete with monochrome flooring and a mint green Smeg.
What’s the service like? Helpful and knowledgeable: the solo chef serves and cooks. He’s happy to chat about the cause if you want to find out more.
Do say: “When’s the next film night?”
Don’t say: “Can I get a paper receipt?”
Café Palestina is open daily at 53 Fortess Rd NW5, dishes from £1.20. More info here.
Main image: Laura Evans