Bargain Bite: Cats Cafe des Artistes

Bargain Bite!

So this month's find is a brilliant little family run Thai restaurant along Stroud Green Road in Finsbury Park - Cats.

When you first approach the restaurant you notice a panther jumping out of the sign above the entrance, then you get an eyeful from the interior design. There's garish animal print cushion covers and dark wood furniture. But despite the nonconformist decoration it's actually quite charming. Each table has a glass top with different currency notes underneath ranging from Sweden to Peru to New Zealand. There's also quite randomly an old 1920's style car to the left of the main door. Heck, why not?

Admittedly I kind of avoided it because it looked bizarre and only ate there earlier this month when Roman and I moved house. We were totally exhausted and needed sustenance. (Anyone who's moved before knows the drill - eat out or get takeaway, right?!) So we staggered round the corner to Cats and I'm so glad we did.

The food is incredibly modest for the price compared to the portions. I ordered the Massaman beef curry with sticky rice and had to ask for a doggy-bag because it was never ending. The beef was still a little pink which was spot on because beef in curries can be really dry and tough sometimes. The sauce was creamy with a satay-like flavour but with more spice.

Their fish dishes are also worth a try. The Pad se Ewe with prawns has nice fat prawns the size of big conkers and another dish to definitely order is the house special - or Cats Cafe des Artistes Special Fish if you want to be specific. It uses Tilapia fish which I'd never tried before and it's fairly sweet so goes well with a strong or hot sauce. It's more of a delicate white fish and is commonly eaten in Africa and I think you can easily buy it in quite a few fish mongers around town.

Tilapia - Cats Cafe des Artistes Special Fish

Pad se Ewe with Prawns

I've since been back to have one of their lunchtime specials which was vegetable spring rolls to start followed by Amber Chicken Curry (essentially Thai yellow curry) and boiled rice, all for £7.95! Absolute bargain.

You can also order pots of tea to share for two quid which are served in authentic Thai pottery that you'd probably find on local market stalls in Bangkok.

Lunch or dinner - Cats is great value for money.

The Cocker's Porked It

The other weekend I was invited round to my friends' house for Sunday lunch.

We've started making a proper thing of it and share making the courses between us, so that someone sorts the main course, another brings a dessert and someone's responsible for the cheese course. (Depending on the rest of the food someone might do a small starter too).

This time round The Cockers (that's one of the couples) were in charge of the main course and boy was it good. Better than good. It was a mouthwatering treat from tongue to tummy. Sam made pork belly with fennel seed seasoning including on the crackling. Then there was the bed of blanched fennel, some baked carrots in balsamic vinegar and a huge batch of Gratin Dauphinois. Look at how good it was!

The pork was very succulent and the fennel seasoning had really absorbed into the pork. With such strong flavours the gratin dauphinois was a perfect suitor with it's comforting creaminess.

The carrots were probably one of my highlights just because of how simple the method was - baked with balsamic vinegar - yet they had such a smack to them! I'm also a big fan of cooked carrots having the right amount of bite.

Then for dessert The Greens (not vegetables, another couple) brought a homemade baked cheesecake with fresh fruits and raspberry coulis with a shortbread base. Some baked cheesecakes can be quite heavy but Helen made it really light and creamy. Cheesecake with fresh fruit is definitely the way to go...

We sprinkled a bit of icing sugar over the top for the photo.

Then we er...somehow ate lots of cheese to follow. I'm not entirely sure how we had any room or capacity for it what with the gratin dauphinois and cheesecake. Oh, who am I kidding? There's always room for some cheese. (Sorry I didn't take any photos of the board, but there'll be other opportunities).