The huge grill at the entrance to this Bulgarian café, and its menu of koftes, houmous and Greek salad, don’t immediately distinguish it from the many Turkish joints nearby.
But once we sat down, surrounded by sturdy lads reading newspapers in Cyrillic, and studied the ‘traditional’ part of the menu, it became clear this isn’t just another kebab shop.
Bulgarian cuisine is a refreshing combination of heavy Eastern European potato and meat dishes, and Greek/Turkish influences of grilled seafood and well-ripened vegetables.
The more Balkan dishes were the best of the ones we tried: the fried chicken livers and hearts with onions were scrumptious, particularly the different textures of the offal and the addition of savory – a thyme-like herb widely grown in Bulgaria.
Just as homely was the ‘Grandmother’s Potato’ – a simple pot dish of layered crumbly potatoes and sharp Bulgarian cheeses.
But the best dish was the last. Our lovely, chatty waitress persuaded us to taste garash cake – in this case a delicate combination of pastry, walnuts, cocoa and sour cream with (relatively) little sugar – a perfect example of how East meets South in this still little-known cuisine.
The Village is simple and inclusive enough to satisfy the average inhabitant of Green Lanes, but also offers a glimpse of the peasant- and home-style Bulgarian cooking for food adventurers.