The past few years have seen a rise in the number of community cafes opening across the country. In Haringey alone we already have a couple that I know of: Downhill’s Park (affordable food alongside training and employment for people with learning difficulties); and Station House on Stapleton Hall Road (serving food donated by supermarkets that is past the sell-by date and providing catering training for volunteers). I’m sure there are probably more.
And what’s not to like? Usually run by enthusiastic volunteers – people who care about community cohesion and giving something back, rather than profits alone – they are a place where local residents can get together and eat a good meal, something not always that simple for many in the community.
On Friday I lunched at a new community café opening near West Green Road, here in Tottenham. Filling the Gap N15 is an initiative set up by local parents Rennee Taylor and Kate McMath King. Tired of having to trek over to Crouch End for a kiddie friendly, healthy lunch, they decided to try opening somewhere in our neck of the borough. Their aim is to provide lunch every Friday for all-comers, charging just £5 per family.
Rennee is a trained nutritional therapist and has taken responsibility for the main part of the menu, with Kate providing tempting home-baked desserts. Last Friday the menu was tandoori chicken (or paneer skewers for the veggies) with rice, and a chocolate cake complete with custard and truffle on top for pudding. There were salads and bread to share on the tables and tea, coffee and water all included. The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly (overused adjectives I know, but it really was). Four long tables seated around 40 people and a kid-sized dining area meant children could also eat together. There were some toys on a mat and a few trikes and bikes in the yard.
It was all rather nice – as a mother of two, going out for lunch is always a treat, simply for avoiding the clean-up. This was even more relaxing as both my children were quite happy playing before and after eating, so I could actually eat warm food myself. The quality of the cooking was a real surprise. Like I say, I expected this to be somewhere I would use because, quite frankly, a fiver to feed me and mine is always going to get my custom. But I didn’t expect it to be so delicious – and it really was. I would still be recommending it if I had paid £20 plus in a Crouch End eatery.
Last Friday was the end of a four-week pilot, but the good news is, they will be back again from May 11th for another three-week stint. And with funding applications underway, they hope to be up and running permanently from September, possible expanding to two or more days eventually. Kate and Rennee are looking to work with a local homeless charity and a nearby retirement home, with the aim of widening the customer base to include more than just mums-who-lunch.
You can keep up with progress at fillingthegapcommunitycafe.blogspot.com
I’d highly recommend coming along when they are back in May to support this local caff.