A chip down memory lane…

An unassuming stretch of Royal College Street is blessed with places to eat out

Friday, 4th March — By Tom Moggach

Chris kitchen

Chris Kyriacou – ‘Chips should always be at the back’

IN troubled times, it’s only natural to seek solace in familiar friendly faces.

Chris Kyriacou has been cooking at his café in Royal College Street in Camden for more than 30 years.

I grew up round the corner and have fond memories of his fry-ups, served with all the care and attention you might expect in a Michelin-starred restaurant.

Chris’s Café has been in the family since 1958; his parents moved to London from Cyprus in the late 1940s.

Kyriacou is still there, along with many of his neighbours: his cousin Peter, who runs Ben Nevis Clothing; the traditional pie and mash shop, a few doors up; and Thomas Tan, the chef at Lemongrass Restaurant, who arrived in the capital from Cambodia in 1969.

It’s truly remarkable, in fact, that this strip of shops has barely changed in three decades.

“This bit is probably the oldest businesses in Camden,” says Kyriacou. “I can’t think of anything older that’s lasted.”

The menu at Chris’s Café is short and sweet. I went for the veggie breakfast – just £5.20 – with two fried eggs, halloumi, mushrooms, tomatoes and two toast. Sure enough, it was beautifully presented. Kyriacou gently places down the plate then slightly rotates it so that all the ingredients are at just the right angle.

“Eggs shouldn’t be too far away from you, as you’re going to dunk them,” he explains, outlining his visual philosophy. “Chips should always be at the back.”

A few moments later, he serves a toasted bacon sandwich – crusts neatly trimmed – to a gentleman by the window: Kyriacou then returns with a gigantic wooden pepper mill, offering a few twists for good measure.

Other dishes on the menu include three-egg omelettes, jacket potatoes, toasted ciabattas and salads. The special was a chicken curry with rice.

A few blocks down Royal College Street, I cycled past Casa Tua, a café and restaurant that Giuseppe Miggiano from Puglia opened his nearly 10 years ago.

Here you can dine on arancini, fresh pasta, parmigiana or an octopus salad. His Aperol Spritz is a humdinger; other cocktails include a Pink Margarita with toasted sesame oil tequila.

Casa Tua is still buzzing along with his new venture a few doors up – the delicatessen and patisserie shop Casa Tua Delizie, with cakes, cannoli, wines, breads, handmade pastas and more.

His team are even serving top quality gelato and sorbets, with flavours such as wild strawberry and Madagascan vanilla.

This unassuming stretch of Royal College Street is blessed with places to eat out. For me, it was also a comforting trip down memory lane.

A film crew with a fleet of vehicles were fussing around outside Castle’s Pie and Mash, drawn by the authentic flavours of this part of Camden.

It’s not the first time for the business owners here. “I don’t want to see another film crew for at least a year,” says Kyriacou, with a long-suffering grin.

Chris’s Kitchen
235 Royal College St, NW1

Casa Tua Delizie
170 Royal College St, NW1
www.casatualondon.com

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