Six of One 18/8/2023
Thenga Cafe and five other recommendations
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Six of One is a column dedicated to London restaurant recommendations. In each newsletter, we send out a tip from six writers for six different restaurants, bakeries, cafes or takeaways that deserve to be better known.
You can find previous Six of Ones below:
Polentina and five other recommendations
Inihaw plus five
Kulcha plus five
Triple One Café plus five
Samak Seafood plus five
Lakehouse Hungarian Restaurant plus five
Salteñas Martin plus five
Best Foods Supermarket plus five
Today’s recommendations are from Rebecca May Johnson, Tomé Morrissy-Swan, Samir Jeraj, Hester van Hensbergen, Rohan Jones, and Maazin Buhari
1. Thenga Cafe
I almost gave up going to Thenga Cafe the first time I tried. All I could see was the entrance to a YMCA and some people in yoga clothes chatting to a receptionist. But I was hungry and, knowing something was meant to be there, I carried on past the reception desk and peered around the corner. I saw a large white dining room with high ceilings and long tables down the middle, a trolley with jugs of water and glasses, clear plastic coverings over decorative white paper tablecloths and paper menus – a canteen. Having arrived via Euston Road, the relaxed pace of the room was a relief. I sat down and looked at the menu (which is entirely vegan) then went to the counter and ordered.
Masala dosa – dosa with potato masala served with homemade chutney and dhal (£8.95)
Healthy heart juice – beetroot, apple, lemon and ginger (£3.75)
Thenga Cafe is an ideal lunch spot for anyone spending the day in the British Library; a salve for the hellscape that is its own catering. The masala dosa arrived on a stainless steel tray with sections for each aspect. Coriander chutney was sharp and alive, and an ideal foil to the comforting, squidgy potato masala; dhal was light, quite soupy and ungarnished but well-seasoned – a great, low-key accompaniment. The little dish of pakoras came with their own portion of chutney and were crisp and recently fried. The luminous purple “healthy heart juice” was made to order and arrived in a mug, bursting with the freshness of ginger and lemon. I felt an upswell of emotion and became teary about being so well looked after. I went back to the British Library (a four-minute walk) to do a few more hours’ work, before returning with my colleague Sharanya for masala tea – made with coconut milk and whole spices – and a homemade sweet. We chatted for ages. Sharanya loved it so much she went back the next day.
A final note – a fact not to be underestimated in any city – there are good toilets off the dining room, where you will find posters advertising yoga classes upstairs. I’ve returned to Thenga Café several times with different people and, on each visit, barely believed my good fortune that it exists. Rebecca May Johnson
Monday – Thursday 11-6pm; Friday – Saturday 11-4pm; Sunday, closed
120 Cromer St, WC1H 8BS