Hi. My name is Catty and I am a faulty human being. Why am I a faulty human being? Well because when “forgiveness” chips were being handed out, I was over yonder digging into a large bowl of ice cream and now, 30 years on, I still haven’t learned to forgive and I sure as hell never forget.

I don’t think it makes me a bad person though. I love and nurture and care for every single person I know with such ferocity that I probably freak most of them out. I see the best in everyone and I trust blindly, utterly blindly, and like a siren on my head, this is a sure way to get burnt.

But when somebody burns me, I become not very nice at all. I don’t know why but I rarely give second chances. I find it incredibly hard to forgive and I never ever forget. I can’t shake this ridiculously cut-throat rule I’ve established for myself. Call it my own process of evolution if you may, that I trim people from my life in a blink of an eye because hey, life is short so why spend it with those who I’ve un-loved?

Strangely, as I get older (and generally less patient), this rule has trickled into other facets of my life. Rub me the wrong way and it’s zero to three strikes in an instant and hey, you’re out.

And yes, this rule totally applies to food because trust me, while there are plenty of places to love out there, there are also dozens just waiting to be un-loved and it may be a little rash but I’ve black listed so many restaurants based on one (bad) visit. I mean, with so many options out there, why go back to one which has failed?

One such victim of my instant black listing was Pho Café in Fitzrovia. A couple of years ago we stopped by Pho for dinner and I ordered my Vietnamese staple ~ bun cha gio nem nuong (“pork and lemon grass meatball bun” and no, not like a bread roll, but a bowl of vermicelli noodles, fresh and pickled salad, tossed in a light chilli-fish sauce).

I love grilled pork bun and am forever in search of something – anything – on par with what I’ve had in Sydney but sadly, nothing has ever been up to scratch. Anyway, one evening a long two years ago, I went to Pho with high hopes and well, no points for guessing what happened.

The bun was so bad in so many ways – the pork, the sauce and even the noodles – and just like that, I drew a thick black line across its perky red logo and there it has sat on my black list ever since.

Fast forward two years and I have Pho’s PR on my ass trying to convince me to go back and give them a second chance. To say that I was supremely hesitant is an understatement because I’m busy! I’m like seriously a busy busy person and when I’m not busy, I want to eat at a place that I like, I mean, is that so unfair? No, I didn’t think so. Y’all busy people understand.

But she’s a persistent one and ok fine so it turns out she’s also a friend and I do love her so last Thursday I cracked under the pressure and joined her for lunch at the black listed Pho.

Scary stuff.

Mathilde pulled out the big guns – not only did she order a perfect sample of Pho’s menu, we were also joined by Stephen and Jules, the crazy lovely owners of Pho who were so infatuated with the cuisine in Vietnam that they quit their university crowned day jobs to open the chain in London.

So, the food. Firstly and utterly foremostly, the bun was actually very very good. Granted we ordered grilled tiger prawns instead of pork but ok the noodles were squidgitastic and the sauce was spot on. {much heart}

Most of the other dishes hit the spot too, with the best being the goi xoai (spicy green mango salad, served with pork, dried shrimp and peanuts), the cha gio (fried pork spring rolls) and always a winner, the morning glory.

And Jules, she even threw kryptonite my way in the form of honey and ginger ice cream. Honestly? One of the best ice cream flavours I have ever tasted in my whole life. A life which I guarantee you, has consumed an expansive list of ice cream flavours.

Anyway, so I gave somebody a second chance. I totally vetoed my own rule and forgave. I’m not sure if this means a string of forgivenesses coming up because I am still busy, but it felt good to right a wrong and mainly it’s awesome to now have a Vietnamese place close to home!

Please note that my rule still totally applies to people though so BE NICE. Or you’re out.

ps. Am trying something new with the photos. More white space and yes, that there says thecattylife.

Pho Cafe
3 Great Titchfield Street
Fitzrovia, W1W 8AX
0207 436 0111

Pho on Urbanspoon

26 Thoughts on “forgiving and forgetting: Pho Cafe, second chances and ginger & honey ice cream

  1. Man, I really need to get out to Pho.

    I’ve heard great things about their salads in particular.

  2. I totally agree with your rule hon, why waste time with people that bring you down. Been there. Done that. Moved on =)

    On the food side, wait until Beth sees this post – she’s going to flip. We went to Pho on Monday (her first time!) and she loved it so much, she’s turned into this hungry monster that only utters the word ‘Pho’ over and over again. Very entertaining. W

    We love Pho.

  3. We’ve been there a few times but only as a last option if we’re in the area and not planned to eat out. My favourite is the lemongrass and chilli Bun with Prawns but they don’t do it there. I’ll try something else just to try the green mango salad and the ICE CREAM! 🙂

  4. Hello Catty,

    SOOO glad to hear you tried Pho again, and have forgiven and forgotten. Steve & Jules are great people, and I have been a fan of Pho for all the 4 years I worked on St.John street (Vinoteca). I love the consistency, freshness, prices, and love love love the beer, such a great place!


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  6. meemalee: Yeah I can vouch that the mango salad is good, the chicken salad was a little bland, but worth a visit nonetheless 🙂 There’s one in Clerkenwell, not far from your work, right?

    Mowie: LOL I didn’t know that! Ahem, Beth might be happy to know that they are opening in Brighton soon!

    H: Oh yeah the ice cream is actually fantastic! Mainly sweet (honey) but with a hint of ginger. Enjoy 😀

    Caitlin: Yes I’m glad I went again 🙂 You work at Vinoteca? I still need to go there!

  7. Hooray, glad it was worth your second visit. I’ve not been there yet but I intend to jump in there the next time I go to Westfield which is the only branch I ever go near. I like the new photo arrangement too (and I had noticed before you said anything)

    Fab to see you last weekend too!

  8. I like the new white space, white space is good. Did you do the writing to stop thievy ole thieves?

    • Yes! Because my “vignette” used to do that and now with white space no more vignetting. So imma stick my name all over the place 🙂

  9. IMHO, the meatballs are the best thing they do here – the lemongrass really gives them a kick. I want Vietnamese food now!

  10. Catherine on June 14, 2010 at 8:10 am said:

    I’m glad – I really like them. In particular, the salads, the juices (especially the apple, mint and lime). Not only that, whichever one I go into, the staff are lovely. I remember when I was pregnant, knackered and craving spice, being on Great Titchfield St – I walked in before they were open – they were lovely, sat me down and got me a drink.

  11. joan on June 14, 2010 at 9:22 am said:

    What a nice post! I love reading posts that are somewhat personal and not just about food and not just a review and you hit the nail on the head catty. Sounds like a fab place too – I haven’t had much Vietnamese food but this all looks delicious!

  12. Sarah: Glad you noticed my photo thing! It makes it all worth while when someone noticed 🙂 I haven’t been to the Westfield branch but I’d say it’d all be the same 🙂

    Mr Noodles: I thought the meatballs were ok, I much preferred the fried pork spring rolls if we’re talking cooked pork stuff. The bun noodles were great though, have you tried the bun with grilled tiger prawns?

    Catherine: That’s great of them – really good service makes such a difference to someone’s perception of a restaurant. Oh yes, love the fresh juices!

    joan: Thanks, lovely! Vietnamese food is usually scrumptious and healthy so you should try and have some more! 😀

  13. Such a beautiful post. Sincere and with a lot of love. Congrats… and thank you!

  14. Fantastic post! I love your writing!!
    But I still need convincing! I’ve been burned baaaaadddd!
    I have never met Stephen & Jules – everyone says they are so nice! But I guess its the food that counts.

  15. Mathilde: Thanks lovely, and thank you for bringing me back there – I genuinely liked it this time 😀

    Leluu: Yeah I hear ya, and you’re not the only one – many people have been burned by Pho before but I guess it’s up to you if you go back! The green mango salad is yummy as is the ice cream and hey they even use the right squidgy noodles in the bun now! And yes, Stephen & Jules are great 🙂

  16. Great post- I’ve also recognised this same feeling regarding second chances. I mean I’m happy to forgive, but to be on the safe side forgetting can help too- if you know what I mean. Just move on and don’t worry about it- right? Anyhow sounds like you had a lovely time out and honey and ginger ice cream- yes one of my favourites indeed 🙂

  17. …its really good to know that things are much better at PHO – Having Pho everyday for lunch would be the most ideal way to live life.

  18. hernando on June 14, 2010 at 1:35 pm said:

    i’ll be the first to admit I dont know what’s good vietnamese or bad vietnamese but i can say I’ve been to Pho on St John Street and the beef noodle soup is brilliant on cold days!

  19. Matcha Chocolat: I never forget, and it’s an even bigger fault cos I can totally hold a grudge forever haha 🙂 Have you tried the honey and ginger ice cream?? It’s SO good, isn’t it?

    Leluu: Ah, but I see you’re concocting your own amazing pho stock! You can totally have it every day!

    hernando: Well, that’s all you need to know then, I would say! 🙂

  20. All looks delicious, but that ice cream is the star for me!

  21. I had a similar experience; previously I’d been to Pho and left a bit ‘meh’ by it all. I went to a PR evening and really enjoyed the food, but since returning have again been ‘meh’. All from the same branch too.

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