Aside from being the most sanitary place to have your eyelids pierced, Camden Town is slowly becoming a great place to fill your face. In the stables, KERB have taken over the main food court, and a bunch of chilled out brunch places have sprung up down the high street. You can get posh fried chicken at Bird or a home cooked Italian meal at Anima e Cuore down the road. But it’s a coffee shop under the bridge in the Market that has been getting us out of bed early, because Café Loren does some of the best shakshuka in London.
Shakshuka is a dish whose origins are hotly contested. This is for good reason, as it’s easily the greatest breakfast meal of all time. If you have thus far sailed through life unaware of its existence, you can either read on or contact your local social worker for immediate assistance.
Shakshuka is traditionally made with a saucy base of tomatoes and peppers, but what comes next varies from place to place, grandmother to grandmother. Most are cooked in a pan with onions, garlic, other herbs and spices, and finally baked with eggs. It’s taken some time to become a mainstay in the British breakfast armoury and now that it is, we’re sifting the best from the average.
Amongst the Middle Eastern big hitters like Honey and Co, Berber & Q, and the Good Egg, all of whom do an excellent shakshuka, Café Loren’s is up there with the best. Here they do coffee and shakshuka, and very little else. There are about 10 on the menu but you can pretty much make your own with all the optional extras. They make the sauces fresh twice a day and you’ve got a choice of thick crunchy pita or their seedy brown challah to mop it all up with. You can try three of their classics – red, green and white in a sort of sharing plate, or get the Shakshuka Sandwich for a fiver if you’re in a rush.
If you’re new to the Shakshuka game, eat this. The pot is lined with houmous and this is the best thing on the menu.
The red is their classic shakshuka. The tomatoes are cooked through and the peppers are soft and juicy.
The white is creamy and gloriously rich with mushrooms and feta. It’s dusted with a little nutmeg and made us slightly emotional.
The green is also full of flavour packed with a pesto, spinach, and leek medley.
This is by no means a cop out here because it’s packed with taste and the same satisfying textures. Perfect for a quick snack.