By Finley Harnett and Rashmi Kalubowila
It was the Monday evening before Christmas, when across the country not a soul spoke of the threat of further restrictions from Covid.
As we make our way to the unassuming Kind Café on Christchurch Avenue, we know this may be the last time we’ve been allowed to dine out for a while. But inside the cozy and festively decorated restaurant, it’s easy enough to put our concerns away and enjoy the tasty Christmas menu.
Opened in January and founded by Taz Khan, chef and manager of London’s Community Kitchen, the Kind Café is the first of its kind in Harrow. It is an ethical and sustainable café that produces its dishes from ingredients discarded by other establishments. Everything we try on this party menu, with the exception of the turkey, is from companies that otherwise would have wasted the food.
The café lives up to its name: we are warmly greeted by Suzy and Dylan the waiter, who traditionally wears a towel draped over the forearm. Dylan offers to start a real appetizer feast: hummus, freshly chopped raw vegetables, olives, tortilla chips and mini cheese tarts.
We then go to the entrances. Rashmi feasts on crisp and fresh Dynamite shrimp, while Fin has succulent lamb koftas with couscous. Hats with crackers on our heads, we feed our mulled wine and Michael Bublé notices that it is starting to look a lot like Christmas.
At the table in front of us, one of the many tables of healthcare workers groomed by the Kind Café this month, we admire the Coulibiac salmon being served to it. A few days before Christmas, we could not but opt for a traditional roast turkey, with all the trimmings.
The festive feast as we know it has its origin in the Victorian period, and for generations since it has been the real test of any chef. It’s an eclectic dish, with so many different elements that need to be prepared to perfection next to each other. Undercooked Brussels sprouts, for example, can ruin an otherwise fancy Christmas dinner (Fin’s dad, we’re looking at you).
Fortunately, the chefs at Kind Café do an amazing job. From the pig on the cover to the roasted potato, dinner is well done and tasty.
After we finish our turkey, we are shown a tour of the newest community kitchen facilities. There is a brand new cooking studio, which currently houses Christmas cooking classes for Harrow schoolchildren. Recently, it served as the backdrop for a production of CBeebies and hosted short online cooking classes, which will return in 2022.
We chat with the chefs, who tell us more about The Kind Cafe’s mission and their plans to produce meals everyone loves in the most sustainable and ethical way – minimizing food waste and hunger by same time.
We learn that much of the company’s profits will flow back into the community kitchen system, providing meals to food insecure people across Harrow and London more broadly.
We also hear about their plans to work with local musicians, artists and poets to spread their art and performances in the cafe, making the space a true creative hub for the community.
“I don’t want to price local residents,” Taz adds. A glance at the drinks menu confirms Taz’s sincerity: Fin’s Christmas Gin and Tonic is just £ 5, mulled wine just £ 4.50. A look at the cafe’s regular menu, which will open properly next month, suggests it will be an affordable and tasty meal.
For dessert, we opt for the traditional festive cheese board and a luxurious chocolate log, both accompanied by Baileys, for a beautiful festive end of the evening.
Starting next month, The Kind Cafe will have a diverse and exciting menu, ranging from classic hearty burgers to exciting bombay omelets and platters of fully loaded golden halloumi fries. All the flavor of central London diners, for less and you know we can’t wait to go back.
This month, the Kind Café represents everything Christmas should be. Bringing communities together, supporting the less fortunate, hospitality, great food and great people. Lend your support to these excellent chefs when Covid restrictions allow. We warmly recommend a visit.
And from Harrow Food Friends to Harrow Online readers, Merry Christmas everyone and good night everyone!