The Mozaic Cafe and Delicatessen is in the centre of Ashton, within the pedestrianised area and close to the shops. As you walk in the first thing you see is the deli counter, full of exciting and unusual salads, and also a selection of various meats. A menu is displayed behind the counter showing what seemed to be the range of take away options.
Deli counter with the chefWe decided to eat in. There were 6 tables set up towards the back of the cafe, but the most noticeable thing was that the kitchen was completely open, not even any sort of counter between the customers and where the food is prepared. Clearly they have nothing to hide! We were seated at a table and immediately offered a hot or cold drink. Just by our table was a shelf with all sorts of Moroccan cooking books and travel books to look at, as well as different size tagines for sale. There were no menus on the tables, but a chalk board on the wall detailing the delights on offer. As we were considering what to have the lady at the next table offered some advice. She told us that the meat meze main course was lovely as she was tucking into a serving of houmous and flatbread.
We decided on a mini meze to start and then something a bit more adventurous for main. I explained that I couldn't eat things like bread and couscous. The waiter immediately understood asking us if everything needed to be gluten free. Top marks.
Mini MezeThe mini meze starter was amazing. The array of salads available (even without the couscous options) was impressive. Among our favourites were the homemade houmous, both green bean salads and the beetroot salad. This came with a portion of flatbread and homemade tzatziki to drizzle over everything if we liked. Everything on the plate tasted fresh and different. The vegetables were crisp and the dressing refreshing. All this for £3.50! Bargain.
I'd chosen the Lemon and Chilli Chicken for a main, and Tim the Spicy Lamb. These came with a small side salad, a choice of rice and a drizzle of that tzatziki. I chose the Saffron Rice and Tim sampled all 3 options which included plain, saffron and brown rice. The brown rice contained cashew nut and vermicelli which was an interesting combination.
Lemon Chilli Chicken with Saffron RiceThe Chicken was superb. The chicken seemed as though it was slow cooked and shredded. Very tender and moist, and tasting real, as opposed to the fake sponginess of prepacked and overly processed cheap chicken. The sauce was very tasty, not too much chilli, but enough to warm your mouth, with a bit of subtle tang from the lemon.
Spicy Lamb and Three ricesThe Spicy Lamb dish was tasty, and not too spicy, with the familiar delicious flavours that often accompany lamb. The waiter had given us a small amount of homemade harissa as an accompaniment to this dish if we wanted more fire. The harissa complemented the dish well and was more flavoursome than other harrisa pastes previously tried.
The bill came to around £15, which we thought was excellent value: 1 starter, 2 main courses, and 2 hot drinks. We were stuffed!
We even bought the favourite green bean salads and some houmous to take away for lunch the next day.
Lunch the next day!During our time at Mozaic we saw plenty of customers come and go, from regular lady with the recommendations, to office workers taking out mixed salads and wraps to the older gentleman (who was speaking French with the chef) who may have been Moroccan himself.
We don't know if the food was typical of Morocco or Lebanon as we have no frame of reference, but we have no reason to doubt the authenticity of what was on offer.
Mozaic is in our opinion a lovely little cafe, a real gem in a busy part of town. The eating area is small and cosy which just adds to it's charms with staff who are very attentive and knowledgeable. Another particularly pleasing aspect to the place is it's diverse range of customers which shows how well the cafe is serving the local community.
We would fully recommend paying a visit, whether you have the time to eat in, or just to grab a lemon chilli chicken wrap on the go, or even to sample the recommended mixed meat meze. I know we'll be back to try that!