I so wanted this to be good. Mainly so that I could confidently lead friends down an alley off King’s Parade, smug in showing off this cute little vegetarian café that I know.
The Rainbow Café tries, it really does. Walking through the passageway and down the stairs, you are greeted by friendly staff. The location puts some constraints on the layout of the café. It consists of two small rooms linked by a corridor. This makes it feel quite personal, like eating at a friend’s house. That said, if I were any more glutonous, I think I would have been on the laps of the couple behind me, and rather too close to the silent academics sharing my table.
Their selling point is being a kitsch, independent foodie place, from the handwritten specials menus to the trinkets on the walls, and a genuine concern for what goes into their food. Even for a keen carnivore, the lack of meat on the menu was no detraction: there is a well put together selection of vegetarian staples, at a high enough quality to justify their place in a restaurant.
I chose their most popular dish: ‘tagine l’algerienne’. Served on warm couscous, and with just the right level of coriander, it was delicious, and arrived on the table very quickly. Perhaps too quickly; I can only assume that this was the reason they decided not to actually heat it up.
Slightly disappointed, I decided to try my luck with their whiteboard of puddings. The gluten-free vanilla fudge cheesecake was as sweet as it sounds, but impressive and not loan- destroying, with prices set at about £5 per pudding and £10 for a main course.
The Rainbow Café has me torn. Everything was so close. Delicious food was let down by carelessness. The cramped interior lacks natural light, but there is a valiant effort in decoration. Yet it is a serious player in the vegetarian food market and definitely worth a try.