Entering through the grand entrance of Bouga makes you feel like you’ve been taken into a whole new world. There are the colourful lanterns hanging from the ceiling, welcoming sofas and chairs with scattered cushions and little alcoves displaying various ornaments.
On this occasion, we were seated on the ground level, near the bar. Bouga also has an upper level with an equal amount of wooden and cosy seating.
A lovely start to our meal was some fresh mint tea. Bouga did have variations on the mint tea such as mint and roasted almond tea, but we had the plain one this time. A tall silver teapot contained the tea and we were served the tea in small painted glasses.
For the starters, the classic falafel were great. These falafel were made from chickpeas and broad beans. They were lovely and moist with a crispy outer.
Another starter was the vegetarian kibbeth. This was the first time that I had tried these and they had to be my favourite. The oval shaped kibbeth were similar to the falafel but were made from cracked wheat and pumpkin. They were filled with spiced spinach and onion.
The halloumi meshoue were grilled slices of halloumi on salad leaves, tomatoes and olives. We were also given a big bowl of salad to accompany our meal. The warm flat bread was light, fresh and hot, straight from the oven.
First we were accidentally given the kibbe lamhe which was the lamb version of the kibbeth. As soon as we cut into it and realised that it was meat, we let the staff know. The staff were really professional and apologised about the mix up and swiftly brought us our vegetarian kibbeth.
The wonderful, tasty, melt in the mouth, chunks of tender aubergine, tomatoes and onion made up my main dish of moussaka. It was delicately spiced and went well with the side of saffron rice. I was glad that this moussaka was more like a vegetable stew compared to a cheesy topped baked aubergine dish. This portion could have easily served two people.
Surprisingly, even though the pumpkin tagine contained apricots and figs, it was not overly sweet. There were plenty of soft cubes of steamed pumpkin and it was a hearty dish. The tagine was served with couscous and was brought to the table in the traditional tagine cooking vessel.
One of my friends had the mixed grill. This was a selection of lamb chops, lamb fillet, chicken cubes with a dome of saffron rice in the middle. It did not disappoint and would be perfect for any person fancying some barbecued meat.
The staff were really nice and friendly and it felt like they valued our custom. They made sure that everything was ok with our meal.
Bouga provides great food, great service in a lovely atmospheric environment.
Bouga, 1 Park Road, Crouch End, London, N8 8TERating: