La Barca in London's Tottenham is a focus for Albanians
I chanced upon this place whilst exploring Tottenham High Road. I was looking for somewhere to have a coffee when I noticed 'La Barca', and in particular I noticed that the sign above the café included the Albanian word 'dashuria', which means 'love'.
I entered a large dining area which looked like many small town or village cafés that I had visited in Albania last year. All of the other customers were men, many of them wearing black leather jackets.
No one seemed to be serving, so I walked up to the bar, and there I noticed a shield bearing Albania's double-headed eagle. Eventually, I managed to attract the attention of a young woman in the kitchen. I asked her if she was Albanian, and she said she was from northern Albania.
I drank my competently made coffee next to a table where a couple of men were discussing matters in Turkish.
When I had finished, I went upstairs to the gallery that overlooks the restaurant. This was fitted out with 'divan' like seating, and there were kilim rugs attached to the walls. Amongst these there was a picture of 'Nene Tereza' (Mother Teresa) and another of the town of Krujë, where the Albanian hero Skanderbeg had his headquarters while he resisted the invading Ottoman Turks in the 15th century.
I did not eat anything at La Barca, but will do so on my next visit there. According to an article (in Albanian; see: https://www.shqiperia.com/Raki-Skrapari--balle-kazani-tek-La-Barca.3225/ ), La Barca used to be a failing Greek restaurant until its present Albanian owner, Mr. Erjan Cela, took it over and improved it.
Using Google to translate from Albanian, here, in picturesque English, is a little more about the restaurant:
The owner of this restaurant, Mr. Erjan Cela, has transformed this restaurant from a low-profile Greek restaurant into a country that is packed from breakfast to late dinner. This is the product of his four-year work at this restaurant. Make yourself, though it is a construction engineer's profession, it seems to have a passion for his new profession. The back of the restaurant is slightly raised and is decorated and furnished with great taste. The seats are the most versatile version of minders and are dressed in handcrafted and brought upholstery from Albania. The candlesticks, paintings and ornaments with very traditional features on the walls and corners of this annex seem to have brought shreds from the warmth of an old Albanian house. The Albanian cuisine of this restaurant, Maria, has a long experience as a cook in various Greek and Albanian restaurants. She says Erjon's "mania" to buy the freshest and highest quality cheeses in the London market has made everything she is cooking to enjoy better than ever before in her career As cooks in other restaurants."
The menus on the table give no inkling of what this place is capable of producing. They contain the usual 'café' fare, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, the article in Albanian reveals (picturesquely translated by Google):
"...Elona, Erjan's wife says that her whole family consumes the same foods that are cooked there. "And to say the right, I'm a bit of a mess when it comes to the meals that are consumed in my family," she says. The "La Barca" specialty seems to be the taverns, as in the newly designed menu are some of them, ranging from traditional yogurt and lamb mushrooms to vegetable tiles, for example. With eggplants, stuffed peppers, and so on. A special place in the Albanian menu are stuffed pies such as spinach, pickles and curds, which are available at any time and are prepared daily by the chef Maria. However, the special feature of 'La Barca' is undoubtedly Skrapar's 100% rakia, made entirely in artisanal conditions by Erjan's father, who still resides in Skrapar. The taste and aroma of this brandy fully justify its fame. Erjani tells me he has already established a regular Rakia transport system from Albania that brings a contingent of at least 20 liters per month. La Barka already has a very good reputation and reputation in the Albanian community of this northern London neighborhood..."
Next time I visit La Barca, I will try to order Albanian food... I can't wait.