Walking along the Askew Road, you wouldn’t expect to find a restaurant that can compete with ease with some of the top eateries you would find in nearby Chiswick. Adams Café is an absolute gem of a venue and the locals have known this for years. Husband and wife team Abdel and Frances have been serving a blend of Tunisian and Moroccan cuisine for 20 years – and it is exquisite.
From the outside it doesn’t seem striking but once you enter you feel a sense of warmth and are welcomed by Frances who ushers you to your table. The venue is absolutely stunning – it feels as if you are in a Tunisian cave with flickering candles on the table and colourful, ornate tiles – a theme continued throughout the restaurant. On the bar are a hookah pipe and an ornate bird cage, conjuring up ideas of Tunisia.
The back area is quieter and designed for groups, with a wooden coat rack standing proudly against the wall. They haven’t scrimped on quality on any aspect of the venue and really push a sense of authenticity which they execute brilliantly, right down to the sand coloured walls and soft yellow table cloths. The atmosphere is very chilled and relaxed and you get a sense that people come here for the service, ambience – and of course the food – it feels like sitting in your living room, having dinner with friends.
There are different dining options, depending on how hungry you are: you can have a Menu Rapide (£11.50) which is a main course with mint tea or coffee, the Menu Gourmet (£14.50) consisting of a starter and main course or dessert or the Menu Gastronomique (£16.50) which is a starter, main course and dessert. The beauty of Adams Café is that it is BYO, with a corkage fee of £3, making it attractive in these cash-strapped times. But if you want to buy alcohol, they have a limited selection of French and Moroccan wines, with house wine at a very reasonable £3 a glass or £10 a bottle. Or Cote du Rhone/ Muscadet (£3.50, £11.50) and a Guerrouane Rouge/Blanc (£12.50), a medium Moroccan red/white. The Casablanca beer (£2.80 for a 330ml bottle) goes well with all dishes as it is dry without being crisp.
If you are not familiar with Tunisian/Moroccan dishes, Frances is always at hand to guide you through the menu and help you with your choices. To accompany your meal there is a small selection of complimentary starters to give you an idea of the quality of the meal to come. Placed in bijoux clay dishes shaped like an amphora, you could receive fresh olives or crunchy cold vegetables with a hint of spice, or juicy lamb meatballs with a super tangy harissa sauce, any of them being a great way to start your meal. The bread is soft, freshly baked and a pleasure to consume.
One of Frances’ recommendations was the Brik au Thon, a typically Tunisian dish: a crispy filo pastry filled with tasty tuna and egg. However, the way it is presented is so stunning, it’s almost a shame to eat it. The fan shaped pastry is wedged in a lemon making it look like a peacock, and when you reach the filling, the orange yolk trickles out gracefully onto the lemon making it look like a beautiful picture. It also tastes wonderful and is definitely worth a try. The Merguez Grilles are bright red curls of lamb sausage with a tomato-based, lightly spiced sauce. If you are a fan of sausages, then you really shouldn’t miss out on this dish.
For main courses, it’s best to go for a couscous dish as this is the speciality of the Café. The Couscous Royale contains a mix of all the different meats on offer, like lamb, meatball, skewers of chicken and merguez. How it works is that you get a big bowl of couscous with the majority of meat with it and a pot filled with a rich and indulgent tomato broth, which goes on top of the couscous. It’s slow cooked so the the meat is very tender, and there are also lots of chickpeas, potatoes, carrots, courgettes and parsnips. A wonderful dish for when it’s really chilly outside – proper comfort food.
You can also have a traditional Moroccan tagine. One to try is the tagine d’agneau aux pruneaux, armandes et raisins secs. It’s very strongly flavoured and if you have a sweet tooth, this would definitely suit. Once again it’s slow cooked so all the ingredients have time to amalgamate into a slow-releasing and intense flavour. The lamb and prunes go beautifully together and the juxtaposition of the soft prunes and crunchy almonds is an inspired idea.
If you can fit in dessert after all that tasty food the Salade d’Oranges a la Cannelle is a fitting way to end your meal. It’s very light and incredibly refreshing, with generous sprinklings of cinnamon and dates and mint leaves placed around the plate in an eye-catching formation. But for chocoholics the Truffe au Chocolat is a must. It’s a rich, dense cake with a fluffy chocolate texture finished with a sweet raspberry coulis: absolutely divine.
One item on the menu you should try if you want an authentic experience is the epic mint tea. Served in a small gold plated glass, it is filled with mint leaves and a lot of sugar, making it a good digestif.
Adams Café is a true find in the Shepherds Bush / Goldhawk Road area. Once you go there and experience the faultless service, really quite outstanding food and wonderful atmosphere, it will soon become your new favourite restaurant, guaranteed.