Café Loren is a restaurant that offers vegetarian and vegan food in Camden, located in the Stables area in the heart of popular and often crowded Camden Market. This market is an eclectic mix of purveyors of Tee-shirts, ethnic jackets, surprisingly good jewellery, and eateries of varying quality. It would be hard for the untutored visitor to pick a great place to eat, but here is a recommendation that will save a lot of aimless wandering.
Café Loren is a small and cosy spot on the edge of the market. There is nothing in its décor to point to the style of food served here. Many folks will enjoy just a freshly-made Monmouth coffee and a bit of cake. That, I am sure, would be wonderful, but they would be missing out on the house speciality. I can’t help thinking those people might glance over at their neighbour’s plates and wish they were here for lunch.
There are styles of shakshuka at Café Loren to suit every taste
Shakshuka is the celebrated dish here, and it’s more often a breakfast in the Middle East. Café Loren serves varieties of this all day, so come here for lunch or even an early dinner. It’s a restaurant looking after vegetarians and vegans, but really one wouldn’t notice the lack of meat. The food here is hearty and very reasonably priced. There are styles of shakshuka at Café Loren to suit every taste.
We arrived for our late breakfast (or was it an early lunch?) on the first wet day we have had in ages. The welcome by staff was warmer than the weather, and we settled ourselves on a well-cushioned banquette. Tables can be moved to accommodate just a few people eating together, and there is a larger table ideal for half a dozen or so. There are shelves with books that seem to invite visitors to linger.
Try the Mediterranean Plate, which will constitute a substantial starter while one waits for the shakshuka to arrive. It won’t be long, but it will give you something to do instead of chasing Facebook posts. This platter came with slightly sweet Challah bread which worked well with the creamy hummus. I cheekily continued nibbling this throughout the meal. Just too good to waste this smooth chickpea preparation. The cheese burakas were flaky and light – perfect with my cup of lemon, mint, honey and ginger tea.
Shakshuka is a popular dish in the Middle East and the basic is a tomato and vegetable sauce with eggs deftly poached on top. I know to my cost that there is an art to cooking these eggs perfectly.
Delicious and fluffy bread
I ordered the Homeshuka and it was hot and well flavoured. The eggs were perfectly cooked, with slightly runny yolks bathing the other ingredients with rich yellow. The bread is a necessary dipping medium. Order some extra, or one might have to become miserly with it as the bottom of the bowl comes into view. To be honest, there’s enough bread included, but it’s such delicious and fluffy bread!
My café companion ordered a rather different shakshuka – different in both colour and taste. This was Green Shakshuka and he pronounced it to be a garden-fresh delight. This is definitely one for the committed vegetarian who might expect evidence of leafy veggies. The shakshuka was redolent with spinach, leeks, green pepper and pesto. This was a well-balanced shakshuka and that pesto was key to its success. It didn’t in any way overpower the dish but added a distinct flavour. This was served with a light and airy vegan bun.
Café Loren shines among other eateries in Camden Market. It’s an oasis of calm away from the throng of the retail and entertainment outside. The food here is outstanding and well worth trying. I could quite happily work my way through the menu. I have my eye on The Spicy One for next time, for there will surely be a next time.
Monday – Sunday: 8:30am – 7:30pm
Friday: 8:30am – 6:30pm
Phone: 020 3076 0099