Gem is an English Literature student at Queen Mary University London with a passion for concerts, queer literature and all things vegan.
Picture the scene. A pistachio green-fronted cafe with tables scattered outside, seating a multiplicity of different people. A warm, Moroccan-inspired interior with traditional Moroccan music pulsing in the background. Targa Green Cafe on Tredegar Road is bursting with life and a community feel, despite only being in its third year of residence in Bow.
I delighted in spending the afternoon conversing with owners Sanni and Targa about their cafe, as well as about tourism, Shakespeare, the seven secrets of the world and madness, amongst other things.
The first person I met was a regular who explained she can’t get enough of Targa Green Cafe and eats there every day the cafe is open (365 days a year). She then introduced me to the eponymous owner of the establishment: Fatima Targa.
Targa immediately apologised for the lack of the cafe’s famous buffet, explaining this was a rare occurrence and sheepishly holding up a bandaged hand. Indeed, injury seemed to be the only thing able to stop the passionate artwork that is Targa’s buffet – made fresh every day with a combination of new and traditional recipes rooted in Moroccan cuisine.
I was recommended the vegan falafel wrap, which I paired with a soy decaf latte, whilst my friend chose an iced coffee and a huge slice of moist-looking coffee cake, enticed by samples on the counter.
The coffee is literally the best coffee I or my friend have ever had. Piping hot, just how I like it, the coffee was a rich roast and topped with two inch foam so thick that I could literally eat it with a spoon (and of course, I did).
The falafel wrap was spiced, encased in a hot-pressed soft wrap and very filling, making it good value for money. The layers of crisp salad, tortilla, hummus, and falafel were well-balanced and ran no risk of being dry like some falafel wraps can be.
After my delicious meal, I sat down with Sanni to discuss how Targa Green Cafe represents the local community. Sanni explains Targa Green Cafe is a place where ‘people can express and be themselves,’ believing each person is an individual part of the community, with a different style and ‘creative life inside their fridge.’ Certainly the cafe’s creative life comes straight from the fridge, not the freezer. Sanni likes food fresh at Targa Green Cafe.
Being big on freshness and health is where the ‘Green’ portion of the cafe’s name come from. When asked why, Sanni quipped, ‘Do you like to go to the doctor every time?’ Delicious food is good. Delicious food that’s good for you is even better. ‘We want to put the GP and the NHS out of order,’ she jokes. At Targa they choose ingredients to benefit the internal organs, as well as the taste-buds.
The taste-explosion, Sanni explains, is all down to Targa - ‘executive chef by title’ – who combines ‘beautiful dishes from all around the world.’ With an impressive 23 years in food service and teaching culinary skills globally under her belt, Targa opened the cafe three years ago, with the encouragement of Sanni.
Why Bow? Targa felt something was missing in Tredegar Road; all the coffee shops closed down after the Second World War. Targa Green Cafe resides in a shop that is 115 years old. In this way, Sanni and Targa combine elements of life like recipes combine elements of food, to create something wonderful. Sanni explained people come from all around the world to witness and taste this wonder, despite wondering if he’s ‘getting too old for this shit.’
I came for food and left with life lessons and a heart as full as my stomach. Summarised best by Sanni: ‘Targa Green Cafe is about the community.’
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