“With a name like Adam’s Café and a daytime menu of full English and other greasy spoon favourites, you might not expect the nightly transformation into a cosy North African bistro. Head here after 7pm, though, and mottled lampshades scatter pretty patterns of light across a candlelit room that’s decorated in muted blues and greens, with ornate ceramic tiling. In-the-know locals often fill the place.
The menu is helpfully split into prices for one, two or three courses; you can mix and match as you like and it’s great value. Briks, doigts de fatma and cigares - all crisp little pastries, surprisingly light and delicately spiced, with meat, seafood or vegetarian fillings - are highlights among the starters. Main courses include tagines and couscous, as well as a variety of grilled meats and fish.
The chefs hail from Morocco and Tunisia, and the subtlety of the aromatic dishes shows their homelands’ cuisines in their best light. Complimentary appetisers, a leisurely atmosphere and optional BYO add to diners’ sense of well-being.”
“Frances and Abdul are "perfect hosts", at this Shepherd’s Bush greasy spoon; it’s "extraordinarily cheap", whether you go by day (perhaps for "the best Full English"), or by night when it morphs into a Tunisian café, serving "tasty" tagines and couscous.”
“Greasy spoon by day, beguiling North African restaurant by night, Adam’s has been picking up plaudits for nigh-on 20 years. Breakfast has a strong following, while lunch involves budget-priced dishes such as sausage & mash, or lamb chops. However, it’s the Tunisian & Moroccan dinners that draw the crowds, when tablecloths & mood lighting help transform the spot from café to cosy bistro.
Sardines with chermoula sauce might kick off a meal, followed by mains of kebabs, tagines, or various spicy couscous dishes, with a choice of French & Middle Eastern desserts as a finale. The venue is fully licensed, but take your own wine (£3 corkage) & the evening will set you back less than £20 - although you’ll want to leave a big tip for the delightful service.
A Bit of Tunisia in West London at Adams Cafe
“On the Askew Road, directly across the road from Sufi, sits Adams Cafe. It’s most likely that you’d pass right by without paying it much notice. By day, it’s an ordinary local cafe. By night, it’s a cosy restaurant serving food from Tunisia and Morocco. Run by a husband and wife team (he is Tunisian, she is English and affectionately known as ‘the boss’ by the former), the little cafe has been there for 15 years. I’m ashamed to say last week, we made our first visit there; I’ve passed it countless times but had never made it in. I’m not sure why. Of course, we went in the evening to try some of their north African dishes.
It took us a while to decide what we wanted to eat - everything looked superb on the menu. There were some very Moroccan dishes we recognised and a few Tunisian ones we didn’t and this being our first time there, we just ordered what appealed. Soon after we’d placed our orders, two little bowls of nibbles arrived at our table. Lightly pickled vegetables were a refreshing little bite and contrasted nicely with the braised spiced meatballs in the other bowl. A good start and I could barely wait for our food.
My starter was the Brik au Thon - fan of crispy pastry with tuna, egg & herb filling. The huge brik stood in a lemon holder, looking very much like a peacock strutting its stuff. The tuna was nicely spiced, the egg yolk was still runny, and the pastry perfectly crisp. Imagine two Neanderthals ripping apart their huge joint of meat; we must have looked like that. The menu states that you can replace a main course with two starters; we discussed starting with a brik and then following with two further briks.
Blai chose the Sardines Sauce Chermoula - fresh sardines with chermoula sauce. Two large, fresh, grilled sardines with blistered skins arrived with the chermoula sauce in a little filo pastry cup. The sauce was quite strongly flavoured with plenty of herbs, lemon and garlic but it went well with the equally strongly flavoured fish. The fins and tail were moreishly crispy.
To follow, I wanted couscous and ordered the Couscous à l’Agneau - with lamb on the bone cooked in the sauce. I received a large bowlful of couscous, a tureen full of lamb and vegetables in a tomato based broth, and a plate to put together my meal. Wikipedia tells us that all of north Africa partake of these steamed granules of semolina. The combination of the gentle broth with the couscous was supremely comforting (I think it’s that combo of carbs soaked in liquid until mushy that makes it so). There was a very generous serving of lamb chunks in the broth along with lots of vegetables and chickpeas in the broth. Slurp!
Blai saw the word lemon and then his eyes saw nothing else; for him, it had to be the Tagine de Poulet au Citron confit et Olives vertes - chicken, pickled lemons, green olives, potatoes. The chicken leg and potatoes were tender and sure enough, everything was infused with the flavour of the preserved lemons. But this is Morrocan, no? Apparently, a Tunisian tagine is more like a frittata. I didn’t see such a thing on their menu.
We decided to split a dessert as we were both already quite full. It would be a Crêpe Berbère - Moroccan-style pancake with honey sauce. What arrived didn’t look promising - a perfectly round crêpe trimmed with a single mint leaf and dusted with powdered sugar. It just didn’t look very exciting. However, this became a good lesson on how not to judge things by its cover - this crêpe was thicker than a usual French specimen and had a tight honeycomb texture throughout (if you’re familiar with injera, that Ethiopian flatbread, this had the same texture but with none of the fermentation). And it acted like a sponge, soaked through with a thin honey and lightly citrus sauce. It was utterly gorgeous!
The pricing of their food is simple. One main course with tea or coffee is £11.50. A Menu Gourmet is two courses for £14.50. A Menu Gastronomique is all three courses for £16.95. And as I mentionned above, you can subsitute two starters for one main dish. With a bottle of water and gratuity, the total for all our food came to just under £40 for the two of us. Fab food at a fair price. We’ll be back for sure.”
Su-lin, Tamarind and Thyme
A slice of Morocco
“I have mixed feelings about posting a review of this treasure on the Askew Road - as it's a rather well-kept secret. The service is friendly and unassuming, the decor welcoming and unpretentious and the food is delicious. I mean really delicious.
It's generally simple fare - couscous in whatever variety you like or tagine. Authentic, simple and served with smiles. What more could you want? If you take my advice you'll also get a bottle of the astonishingly reasonably priced Chateau Musar to wash down whatever delicacy you go for. A good meal for two with wine will set you back around £60 and I can't recommend it highly enough.
I love this restaurant - perfect for a large group outing as well as intimate dinners a deux. Relaxed, welcoming and great reasonably priced food. ”
urbanspoon, diner review
An independently-run Tunisian restaurant in West London
“Askew Road, which runs up the western side of Shepherd's Bush, has a great selection of independently-run local restaurants, and the understated Adam's Cafe, located towards the top end of the road, is one such example. As the name suggests, it is a simple cafe by day, serving the likes of scrambled eggs on toast and hot paninis, but in the evening it transforms into a tasty Tunisian restaurant serving authentic North African cuisine of cous cous, tagines and stews.
The Tunisian-English husband-and-wife owners moved to London in 1989 with plans to open the only Tunisian restaurant in the capital. Over twenty years later and their successful venture is still going strong. The interior is bright and friendly, the walls clad with framed pictures of their beloved Tunisia.
The menu is filled with inexpensive, authentic dishes, and as you peruse, a complimentary appetiser of mini meatballs, spicy harissa and pickled vegetables is brought to the table. The choice of starters include soupe de poisson (fish bisque with croutons), merguez grillees (grilled spicy lamb sausages) and doigts de fatma (crispy filo pastry rolls of minced beef potatoes and herbs). The main courses are divided into grilled meat (steaks, marinated chicken and lamb skewers) and grilled fish (king prawns, swordfish, mullet and seabass), as well as fragrant cous cous dishes, aromatic tagines and simmering stews. There's a range of tasty desserts to finish including sweet bakhlava pastries and Moroccan-style pancake with honey sauce.
The prices are fixed, depending how many courses you want: choose from Menu Rapide which is £12.50 and includes a main course, followed by coffee or mint tea; Menu Gourmet, costing £15.50 for a main course and either a starter or dessert; and the £17.95 Menu Gastronomique, which gets you three delicious courses. The restaurant is fully-licensed, or you can bring your own wine for a corkage fee of £3.50.
To get to Adam's Cafe, the nearest tube stations are either Ravenscourt Park or Stamford Brook, otherwise you can get the number 207 or 266 bus routes. Visit the website here.”
Sue Lancaster, Weekendnotes
“Every one of the reviews on this page are, in my direct personal experience, correct. This externally unassuming little restaurant is most certainly a "destination" restaurant by which I mean very well worth travelling to from anywhere in London. Unhesitatingly recommended based on 9 visits so far. ”
Howard Popeck, London-Eating
“Stepping into Adams Cafe is like falling through a portal into a different and altogether enhanced world... It’s been going for 20 years and now the children of the original customers are regulars!...”
H & F News
“Word of Mouth - Londoners will do anything to keep their favourite restaurants secret. ES goes undercover to reveal the capital’s best local bites. No 7 of top 50 restaurants: Adams Cafe. Family run for over 20 years: basic but delicious Tunisian food.”
A Shepherds Bush institution
“This place has been around for some time and not without good reason. It doubles up as a breakfast cafe in the mornings. The owners, who are husband and wife, are very nice friendly hosts. I seem to remember that he is Tunisian and the food predominately Tunisian. Anyway, I love the food especially the Cous Cous dishes, where a vegetarian version is available.
I like the fact that they offer complimentary nibbles, it's a very nice touch though you have to leave space for the main. I always leave this restaurant full!
Absolutely one of the best places for Moroccan and Tunisian fare. ”
urbanspoon, diner review