|We Wave Hasta la Vista To Our Waistlines|
At Ginkgo Café's Spanish weekend spectacular
Being a West Londoner I like to think I know what's going on locally, which is why I can't believe I didn't know about Ginkgo Café before now.
I discovered, when I was invited to Saturday lunch at their Spanish weekend, that perhaps I was the only person who had been kept in the dark.
The place was alive with park-goers and locals: families, dozens of small children, a dog and a young couple fresh in from the tennis courts.
The first thing to catch my eye was the hand-written Spanish Weekend Tapas Menu, which offered four items for only £7.95. We were spoilt for choice with a list of 12 traditional dishes to choose from.
All the dishes that appeared on the menu were in the glass cabinet at the counter, which ticks a huge box for me. I find it so much easier to choose what I would like to eat once I've seen all the options, and it's much more polite than eyeing up other diners' food (although I enjoy that immensely too).
We decided to share four tapas dishes (crab bites with garlic oil, slow cooked ribs with mushrooms, lentils and chorizo, squid in their own ink) and one Paella (£7.95) from the full Spanish Weekend menu. This may be a small café camouflaged in a garden centre, but the food was delicious. Nothing was too oily or heavy and every dish tasted fresh, flavoursome and authentic.
Nicki and the rest of staff were charming and accommodating, one customer who couldn't choose between paella and meatballs hit the jackpot when he was served half-and-half.
The daily menu on the blackboard sounds foolproof: quiche, salads, soup and sandwiches to mention a few and a kids menu of the 'daily special, juice and a petit filous for £4.95'. We spotted more than one dad 'tasting' his toddler's lunch when the mum wasn't looking.
Family-friendly it may be, but people without children should not be discouraged. After the initial lunchtime rush they all jumped on their miniature scooters and headed off back to the park.
As we ate and sipped our Spanish Red the day changed from a rainy Saturday to a bright afternoon. People moved to tables outside in the pretty garden in a last desperate attempt to catch some autumn sun.
For pudding Nicki recommended a slice of carrot cake. Carrot cake? Could this pass as one of our five a day? We waved hasta la vista to our waistlines and devoured the slice of cake. If this was just a slice, I can't begin to imagine how gigantic the cake must have been. My lunch date had "never tasted such a delicious carrot cake".
On our way out we couldn't resist nosing around the Big Autumn Sale taking place in the Gingko Gardens, biding our time before returning to the bustle of King Street.
There is a sign on the café door that says "We are open, it's cosy in here" which is true, but Gingko Cafe is hugely underselling itself. The sign should read "Yoo Hoo, spread the news, fresh, simple and delicious food for the whole family".
If the size of the slice of cake was anything to go by, I'll be back to sample a slice of quiche for lunch very soon.
November 3, 2009