Tres ngon (Franco-Viet for “Very tasty”…well sort of!)
Cardigan Club Café has recently opened its doors in Tufnell Park so I decided to head in and sample their intriguing mix of French-Vietnamese street food! I’m a big fan of both French food and Vietnamese food, so couldn’t wait to see how a fusion of both would work!
It’s not just the menu at Cardigan Club Café which is quirky – it’s got a very eclectic interior décor, with a mix of trendy wooden tables, centre pieces of old fashioned scales and flower pot tea lights, chintzy sofas and even a retro children’s dolls house! The walls are covered in a variety of actual knitted children’s cardigans and jumpers, framed dress patterns and old Vogue and knitting magazine covers. As well as the main seating area downstairs, there’s a lovely mezzanine area (where we sat) and it was really nice to be sat looking over the downstairs area and doing some people watching through the floor to ceiling windows onto the bustling street outside.
Whilst it’s different, it’s certainly homely and welcoming, as are the staff who were really friendly and attentive throughout our time there.
Now…on to the important part, FOOD!
Whilst the Cardigan Club Café website explains that their aim is to provide a ‘selection of the best dishes Vietnam has to offer but serve them in a rustic French environment’, there are definitely some dishes which are a mix of the two cuisines. For example, as the Franco-Viet Baguettes which are crusty baguette rolls filled with Vietnamese flavours of chillies, cucumber, coriander, pickled carrot and your choice of either sweet chilli chicken, garlic pork, peppered beef or vegetarian Tofu.
The menu is very small, with only 5 items in the Lunch / Dinner section, but this is in no way a negative. What they lack in choice, they make up for in being confident in their ability to deliver each of these meals very well. (And I’m quite an indecisive person anyway, especially when I’m hungry, so this worked well for me!)
I went for the Market Rice (steamed rice, spring onions and ginger puree) with peppered beef, which was absolutely DELICIOUS! It was presented beautifully and tasted so fresh, with each of the flavours recognisable. The side salad was radish, pepper and quinoa and added a nice variety of textures. There was also a lovely coriander guacamole-type paste too which intensified the flavours. I added plenty of hot sauce from the table (I like my meals spicy!) and even some fresh chillies which the waiter bought us. Wowzer it was fiery! But in the wonderful flavoursome way, rather than being so hot I could just feel heat.
|Market Rice with Peppered Beef|
My bf went for the Off The Beaten Track Japanese Curry, a thick mild Japanese curry with chicken. It was again presented really well and apparently packed full of flavour (it obviously was really good as it was gone before I could even get a taste!!). Our friends all went for The Riviera Sun with either battered tofu or garlic pork – described on the menu as “vermicelli noodle salad with a refreshing sweet lemon vinaigrette dressing, garnished with crushed peanuts and mint leaves”. Again, all reviews were excellent, although the pork apparently tasted more of spare ribs than being particularly garlicky, though this wasn’t unpleasant, but apparently the tofu was a bit spongey. However all were unanimous that the mint, coriander and lemony dressing made it perfect for a light summery meal. One of our friends did think that her tofu noodles were a bit too light though and ordered a tofu Franco-Viet baguette afterwards, though everyone else seemed pretty content. Perhaps go for the Market Rice if you’re really hungry, as I was absolutely stuffed afterwards!
|The Riviera Sun with Garlic Pork|