Cafe Zim, Middlesbrough

I first stumbled across Cafe Zim at the Redcar Beacon nearly a month ago and was devastated seeing it was closed that day. I vowed that I would go back to try out the menu, but with work and life the thought had slipped my mind. Getting off the bus from work a few days ago, I found myself walking down Baker Street and happened upon a second branch of Cafe Zim. I decided I would go back on the weekend and finally have the lunch I wanted all those weeks ago.

Saturday rolled around and it was typically wet and miserable. I got hopelessly soaked by a car just minutes before I arrived so was relieved to find the cafe open and warm. I settled down at the table by the window and quickly perused the menu.

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I was initially drawn to the fried chicken with waffles (Don’t get me started on how much I love waffles) but decided to opt for the (healthier sounding) Ras El Hanout Spiced Cauliflower main and added on Zucchini Fries as a side. When I went to the counter to order, I was confronted with a wide variety of delicious looking cakes as well as the alluring smell of freshly made coffee. Torn between the tempting cakes and coffee, I – for some reason – panicked and ordered a white hot chocolate. In hindsight, a hot chocolate was exactly what I needed, so I’m glad I did! The Kakao ‘Ivory Coast Vanilla’ hot chocoalte was beyond beuatiful. It was quite possibly the smoothest hot chocolate ever, as well as being nice and foamy.

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After what seemed like just a few minutes, I was brought my food. The Ras El Hanout Spiced Cauliflower came on a bed of hummus and was topped with flaked almonds and pomegranate seeds. The spice blend was delicious, and the cauliflower was cooked just right. It was cooked enough to avoid being firm, but not so soft that it would fall apart on my fork. Hummus is one of my all time favourite things, and I was pleased to see that this still contained whole chickpeas. The pomegranate seeds were a great addition, and really lifted the dish, giving it a light and summery feel. The almonds also were a nice contribution to the dish, providing a nice change in texture to the softer ingredients.

When I moved on to the side dish, I remembered that generally I avoid ordering polenta, as I’ve never managed to get it quite right at home and as a result have never enjoyed eating it. So, I tried the courgette fries with much trepidation. I actually really enjoyed them, the courgette filling was nice and moist, and the polenta coating was nice and crispy. Frying courgette comes with risks, as courgette tends to absorb any oil or flavourings it’s cooked in, so I was worried that they might be oily. However, I think the polenta formed a good barrier to the oil, keeping the courgettes moist without being soggy, and making a nice golden coating.

I ate my meal almost embarrassingly fast and was far too full to contemplate venturing out into the rain any time soon, so settled in my chair to watch the world go by. My meal game to £10, which is pretty good going for a main, a side and a drink. My portion of courgette fries was definetly generous enough to share between two, so I think getting a main each and a side to share would be the best option for a couple. I’ll defintely be returning to Cafe Zim very soon – I have my eye on those waffles!

 

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