Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cafes, curries and closure (of Greggs!)

View Larger Map

Two little highlights of Plumstead High Street are worth a mention (or another mention as I am sure I have mentioned one or both before)

-The Cafe Royale a few doors along from Namaste

-The Punjabi Dhaba near the big Barclays Bank

The Cafe Royale is a small coffee shop with coffee that actually tastes of something. Its shown on the above map just west of Plumstead station. Capuccino’s are diligently salted with chocolate. There is a tribal Yemeni sword on the wall. There are comfy chairs to sit down and read your papers (there’s usually a few tabloids and local papers available). They try and aim for it being a western type coffee shop - I think they miss a trick there. I once came in and saw some lovely looking syrupy cake on the counter. They hadn’t intended it for general sale - it was a traditional ramadan breakfast dish. The immense politeness of the lady there meant she sold me a piece and it was delicious. I have had some of their normal patisseries and they are ok too - the pain au chocolat and danish seem to be provided fresh. There are some cellophane wrapped muffins. There are some peculiar looking takes on full dinners and breakfasts laid out in the glass cabinets - an entire cooked breakfast with unusal looking sausages and a ready-fried egg would be an example. I assume they get micro-waved prior to being served but I’m not entirely sure. Going back to the politeness - both the East Europeans who sometimes serve there and the Yemenis are really polite and friendly and not in the artificial Pret manner. Most traders in the High Street are matter-of-fact at the best and generally down in the mouth so some friendliness makes a pleasant change.

A wonderfully down in the mouth man with a droopy moustache usually serves me when I visit the Punjabi Dhaba formerly known as the The Village Restaurant. A Dhaba is a roadside cafe in Indian and this certainly has the food shack feel about it. You find it in Whit Hart Road opposite Lakedale Road. There is transport cafe style seating that often has a group of people being served with sizzling griddle-pans loaded with shikh kebabs and chicken wings. People might be anxious about the hygiene of the place when looking in but the food here is fine. They use various bases such as the mutton curry which they adapt according to the order. I frequently order Mutton Achar and so the standard curry is solemnly scooped up to disappear behind the partition. Much clattering follows and the modified curry arrives with its pieces of lime pickle and other additional flavourings five minutes later. Its nice watching your nan being cooked in front of you (I mean naan, sorry nan). And its really tasty. They also do traditional Indian breakfast there but I haven’t worked myself up to trying it yet. A current favorite order is a mutton biriani,a chana massala (spicy chickpeas) and a nan bread. This is enough for two and comes in at slightly over 7 quid with mint sauce and a bag of salad thrown in gratis. It’s not the same stuff you get in a normal British High Street the main difference being depth of flavor and (on the negative side) quite a bit of salt.

Another place in the High Street that has friendly outgoing staff is the Greggs in the High Street. The bad news here is people simply aren’t buying stuff there any more and the visiting manager said it was being lined up for closure. This would be depressing if it happens - the bread selection in Tesco’s is poor and over-priced and keeping a bit choice going would be good thing. So get in there and buy some chocolate eclairs for the sake of Plumstead.

1 comment:

Marta Rabikowska said...

Yes, it is sad that they may close Greggs. It is also fascinating in Plumstead how many shops get closed and then immediately some new ones become open, even for one season or two, and they they go bankrupt and the same story starts again. A history of capitalism in a capsule, still beating.