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Restaurant Guide

Star Rating

* * * * * * * * * *


La Cafeteria  

841 Forest Road


London, E17 4AT   map

Tel : 0208 527 1926

I've had serious writer's block when attempting this review mainly because I feel it a bit unfair to be negative. La Caféteria is
a good café - but is it a restaurant?
My first visit was about a year ago when I had a linguine pomadoro, a simple tomato pasta, but I felt that it lacked seasoning, ran out of enthusiasm and left half of it. With this experience behind me the E17foodanddrink team revisited...
For a Wednesday lunchtime this surprisingly large café was all but full. The décor is clean, simple and contemporary in chocolate brown. A sandwich bar-type counter in the front of the shop and a small back area are joined by a wide corridor that also accommodates seating. There is also a small garden for those alfresco moments.
The menu is extensive and cosmopolitan and includes everything from coffee and cakes to more complex meals such as chicken tagine and Thai chicken with rice. They also sell sandwiches and baguettes. If none of this takes your fancy they have eight forms of breakfast to choose from. We decided to choose from a specials board which had five main course options.
My meal was chalked up as poached haddock on a bed of mash with spring vegetables. The problem was that it was smoked  haddock which has a very distinctive taste and one I'm not too keen on. I felt another word on the specials board was necessary. My friend's meal was trout fillet with crushed potatoes and spring vegetables. The potatoes were whole, so one word too many on the board this time.
The food was pretty good for a café and not too expensive, but it seemed a bit pre-prepared, particularly the vegetables. Main courses were £6.95 and £7.45 respectively and with a beer and a coffee the total bill came to about £20. (Be warned they do not accept credit cards).
La Caféteria is a good café particularly for those who work locally and need a break from the usual fodder available in this area but I wonder whether its full and wide-ranging menu trips it up a somewhat, particularly when the café is busy.
They open at 7.30am and close at 4.30pm every day and on Thursday, Friday and Saturday they reopen from 6pm to 10.30pm.
We have yet to eat here in the evening when the menu does seem to be a smaller version of the lunchtime choice. Hopefully when La Caféteria is quieter and the chef has less options to consider there will be more attention to detail.

Editor June 2009


I hadn't expected much of a restaurant with a modest name on a dreary stretch of Forest Road between the College and Homebase. How wrong could I be! Hiding behind the modest frontage is one of the best value eateries in London.
The food is of the style and quality of a (good) gastro-pub, but at a  
much cheaper price. The menu centers on modern European food - I especially liked the fish dishes. The deserts are very good too. 
At the end of the meal I was astonished with how low the bill was -  
incredible value for such top-notch food.
Strongly recommended! One thing to note is the opening times. I think they are only open in the evenings Thursday to Saturday, otherwise they are open for lunch only.
Dan, E17


Posted 17th February 2009


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