I kinda hate writing about places from where I live – I basically don’t want there to be a queue in front me you see. It’s selfish I know and today I’ll give up one of my NW5 secrets. When the Cardigan Club Café opened its doors last year I was overjoyed – not least because someone had told me it was going to be a Pret, but because we’d finally got some deliciously authentic Vietnamese food near my house. At the ripe old age of 24, Min Chi Nguyen decided she wanted to open a café where people could have good home-cooked, Vietnamese food, using interesting western ingredients to give the dishes a modern twist. And that’s exactly what she’s done – there’s your classic lunch time bánh mì baguette if you’re in a hurry, but if you’ve got some time, the market rice – steamed rice, spring onion and ginger puree with your choice of flavoursome meat or veggie option – is my favourite, but you’d also do well enjoying the quinoa salad or, if you need warming up, get a massive bowl of Pho. The food is made to order (no mean feat in a lunchtime rush) and portions are very generous, the chairs and tables don’t quite match (as they shouldn’t) and as you might expect, the interior has a French flair about it. I’ve taken several visiting friends there and the best reaction was one exclaiming, “The flavours! So f*cking flavoursome!” about his lunch for the rest of the day. There’s also a free book exchange upstairs and the decor gives a nod to the seamstress’ and tailors that many of the original Vietnamese settlers in London were. Check the website for the full menu. There’s just about enough room for everyone, just please, get in line behind me.
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