By Finley Harnett and Rashmi Kalubowila
‘Twas the Monday night before Christmas, when all through the country not a soul wasn’t talking about the threat of further Covid restrictions.
As we head into the unassuming Kind Café off Christchurch Avenue, we know there’s a chance this could be the last time we’re permitted to dine out for a while. But inside the cosy and festively-decorated eatery, it’s easy enough to park our concerns and enjoy the flavourful Christmas menu.
Opening in January and founded by Taz Khan, Chef and Director of London’s Community Kitchen, the Kind Café is the first of its kind in Harrow. It’s an ethical and sustainable café that produces its dishes using ingredients thrown out by other establishments. Everything we try on this festive menu, with the exception of the turkey, is sourced from businesses that otherwise would have put the food to waste.
The café lives up to its name: we’re warmly greeted by Suzy and Dylan the waiter, who is decked out traditionally with a towel draped over his forearm. Dylan brings over a veritable feast of an appetiser to start off with: hummus, freshly-chopped crudites, olives, tortilla chips, and mini cheese tartlets.
We then tuck into starters. Rashmi chows down on crispy and fresh Dynamite Shrimp, while Fin enjoys succulent Lamb Koftas with Couscous. Cracker hats atop our heads, we nurse our mulled wine and Michael Bublé observes that it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
At the table across from us, one of the many tables of healthcare workers being treated by the Kind Cafe this month, we admire the Salmon Coulibiac being served to it. It being a few days to Christmas, though, we couldn’t not go for a traditional roast turkey, with all the trimmings.
The festive feast as we know it has its origins in the Victorian period, and for generations since it has been the true test of any chef. It’s an eclectic dish, with so many different elements that have to be prepared to perfection alongside each other. Undercooked Brussels Sprouts, for instance, can be the undoing of an otherwise fine Christmas dinner (Fin’s Dad, we’re looking at you).
Thankfully, though, the chefs at The Kind Café do a sterling job. From pig in blanket to roast potato, the dinner is well-done and flavoursome.
After we finish our turkey, we’re given a tour of the Community Kitchen’s newest facilities. There’s a brand new cooking studio, which is currently the home to Christmas cooking classes for school children from across Harrow. Recently it was the backdrop to a CBeebies production and has been the home to short online cooking classes, which will return in 2022.
We talk with the chefs, who tell us more about the mission behind The Kind Cafe and their plans to produce meals that everyone loves in the most sustainable and ethical way ‒ minimising food waste and hunger at the same time.
We learn that profits from the business will largely go back into the Community Kitchen system, supplying meals for people struggling with food insecurity across Harrow and London more widely.
We also hear about their plans to work with local musicians, artists and poets to broadcast their art and performances in the café, making the space a real creative hub for the community.
“I don’t want to price local residents out,” Taz adds. A look at the drinks menu confirms Taz’s sincerity: Fin’s Christmas Gin and Tonic is just £5, the mulled wine a mere £4.50. A sneak preview of the regular menu for the café, which opens properly next month, suggests it will be an affordable as well as tasty meal out.
For dessert, we opt for the traditional festive cheese board and a luxurious chocolate yule log, both served alongside Baileys, for a lovely close to the festive evening.
From next month, The Kind Cafe will be operating a diverse, exciting menu, ranging from classic hearty burgers, to exciting bombay omelettes and trays of golden fully loaded halloumi fries. All the flavour of inner London diners, with a lower cost and you know we can’t wait to return.
This month, the Kind Café represents everything Christmas should be about. Bringing communities together, supporting those who are less fortunate, hospitality, great food and great people. Do give these excellent chefs your support when Covid restrictions permit. We heartily recommend a visit.
And from Harrow Food Friends to Harrow Online readers, happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!