Thursday, 30 September 2010

Casa des Amis, Canterbury

Apart from walking in on the chef using the urinal in the gents (the ladies was closed for refurbishment), I had a very pleasant experience at Casa des Amis. Don't be put off by use of French for the name; the restaurant focuses on serving Mexican cuisine with a 'Mediterranean perspective', a somewhat different and yet plausible concept.

Situated in what appears to be an old pub (with remnants of a past nautical theme), the walls are lined with an odd collection of 3D papier mache images by a couple of local artists. It all feels fun and bright, although a little haphazard. There's a reasonable choice of dishes on the full menu plus several lunch specials which include a drink for £7-8. We decided to try a mixture of plates; huevos rancheros, a quesadilla, chicken salad and a burrito, the latter which we requested 'extra spicy'. While there was somewhat of a wait for our dishes to appear, the portions were ample and everything met our expectations. Fresh habanero spiced up the burrito, the salad was fresh and tasty, and both the 'traditional' dishes were on a par with others I have had elsewhere. Sides of black beans and guacamole excelled themselves.

However, the general consensus around the table was that the meeting of the Med and Mexico was a little unnecessary. Surely there's enough going on in a quesadilla without the addition of pesto? Who needs parmesan mash to accompany their mole? This isn't the place for a cheap meal either. While there is an early bird menu, most of the dishes from the full menu seem quite pricey, even by London standards. Many of the other diners were tucking into the fajita plate for two, a generous pile of sizzling meat accompanied by warm tortillas and the usual sides. While it all looked very good, it would set you back some £33 for the steak for two.

Cafe Des Amis is no Tex-Mex outlet. The food is interesting, if a little over complicated, but it's a great place to go if you fancy something different in Canterbury.

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