Carina Murphy hits Acre Lane’s latest local
Café Amado (meaning ‘beloved’) occupies a spot on the increasingly interesting Acre Lane, neighbour to souvlaki bar Mikos. Acre Lane is still growing as a destination, unless of course your destination is nearby Lidl and all that discounted supermarketing has brought on an appetite.
In which case, do try out the new Mexican menu brought to you by half-Mexican, half Colombian chef Cesar Raya at Amado. So far, so on trend. After all, the likes of Casa Morita in the village maintain a consistently high standard, as does the speedier but equally superb Maria Sabina in Pop.
Café Amado is altogether more retro, with plenty of the charm you’d hope for from a colourfully decorated local café and less of the refinement than you’d get in one of the edgier openings.
Determined to leave no tortilla, tostada or taco unturned, we started off sharing that Mexican breakfast classic – huevos rancheros. An (extremely) generous portion of two eggs, rolled warm tortillas, peppers, onions, rice and queso fresco cheese.
It was then that we realised we would have trouble downing this and our two main courses, a prediction confirmed when two more heaving plates arrived. Toasted vegetarian quesadillas filled with refried beans and Monterey Jack cheese as well as chicken tacos. A side order of ranchero sauce was liberally applied as I began to regret bringing the only person in London still resolutely clinging to their New Year diet.
The highlight of the meal was the freshly made guacamole that came with the quesadillas and it was all warming, filling stuff at very reasonable prices.
The lovely manager Suzanne could not have been more welcoming and greeted our slightly wimpish stirrings about the quantity of food with “no one goes home hungry here”. There could certainly be no complaints about stingy portions or the quality of service, which is always massively important in a neighbourhood “local”.
I just wished there’d have been a bit more oomph and variation in the dishes and perhaps some fresh coriander, lime or chillis to bring a bit more zing.
Currently unlicensed, with a very reasonable £2 corkage charge for wine and £1 for beer, there is a wonderfully kitsch display of Mexican pop (sure to go down well with my nine-year-old).
As Café Amado bills itself as serving “coffee and food”, the coffee was always going to be decent and my Roasting Shed espresso was smooth and punchy.
But the highlight of the meal for me was the Left Field Craft Kombucha or “living tea”. In a bottle resembling a trendy craft beer, I tried the Tung Ting Oolong – a floral tasting, naturally sparkling and fermented drink, which I would happily swap for actual beer.
I really, really wanted to try the churros, or the orange and polenta cake on the counter, but I’d been defeated by the earlier courses.
I’ll definitely be back though, not least because I plan to test Suzanne’s bold statement in a Mexican standoff of (my) children versus churros.
126 Acre Lane, SW2 5RJ | cafeamadoldn.com | 020 7738 5554 | @cafeamadoldn