Despite many competitors in the Crystal Palace triangle, this recently refurbished French-Algerian bistro has won local hearts. Colourful lampshades and glass lanterns throw beads of light on to the dining room’s burnt-orange walls, creating a cosy atmosphere that complements an equally heartening, good-value menu.
A starter of duck börek, with tender morsels of breast and a jammy relish inside crisp pastry, began the meal as it was set to continue. Couscous and tagines dominate the main courses, and a flavoursome merguez sausage came with fluffy steamed couscous and sweet pepper relish. Dessert, sumptuous cinnamon-spiced crêpes berber, arrived with toasted almonds, honey and ice-cream.
Prepared in a tiny kitchen, the food was well cooked, beautifully spiced and easy on the eye. The wine list is notable too, containing popular European labels in addition to vintages from Lebanon and Morocco.
Complimentary sweet mint tea, along with very amiable service, added to the informal, welcoming vibe. Downstairs is an intimate little bar, where diminutive cubby holes are ideal for quiet tête-à-têtes. Musicians play here on Wednesday and Friday evenings.