It was brunch on Halloween and we needed somewhere to get in out of the chilly wind and Fatima’s Cafe & Bistro was, frankly, closest.
For some reason we’d been putting off Fatima’s. Something about the wording on the arched windows lead us to believe the menu was limited to coffee and panini. I’m a big fan of the panini so I’m not sure why I’d been steering us away from a visit. Perhaps the placement of the counter in the window gives the impression the space is somewhat cramped. It’s not. Nor is the menu limited.
The atmosphere is cozy and chic in red-brick and dark wood. The menu travels from France to Italy and stops at all places in between, but the fusion of flavours feels more rooted in the gallic than the mediteranian—something else we weren’t anticipating from the exterior.
Mandi’s unexpectedly spicy mussels came with pommes frites. Something I thought was odd given the generally classy tone fo the joint but she explained they come that way in France. Not being a shellfish fan, I of course didn’t discover this when I was in France. I asked if the spiciness of the mussels was a good thing, she said, “Yes. But it didn’t say anything about spicy on the menu and might be a shock for someone.” Then she said they were a little tough over all. I didn’t know shellfish could be anything other than tough and disgusting, but apparently they can be good. These were merely “okay” it seems. The pommes frites, though, were delightful. Golden, crisp and served in an attractive conical bowl.
If Mandi’s mussels were a slight disappointment, my prosciutto, spicy Genoa salami and provolone panini was anything but. It was a sheer delight. It could have, perhaps, been taken to another level with the addition of pesto, but it was by no means anything other than the best sandwich I’ve had in the Junction. Bar none. The plate was nicely dressed as well.
My americano was second only to Pascal’s, but only a grade slightly below. Easily some of the best coffee in the area.
Other than the wait staff being slightly inattentive—but not so much we were unduly annoyed and not so much as some other places we’ve visited—the general experience was good and reasonably priced. The friendly but lackadaisical attitude of our server gave us the opportunity to play “spot the weekend dad” which is our favourite game to play when waiting for the bill. I theorized the guy beside us eating brunch with his young daughter was not actually a weekend dad but a widower dad. He just had that look.
4.75 cafes out of 5 bistros.
(I felt I had to deduct marks for Mandi’s mussels though the panini itself was worth a solid 5 rating.)