Friday, 14 May 2010

Kimo's, Liverpool

A trip round the world to please everyone!

When I was a student back in 2000, I got in with a crowd mainly made up of foreigners. I was determined to show them the sights of Liverpool but funnily enough, I learned more from them about the city's restaurant scene than I ever knew! They showed me places in my home town that I didn't even know about, a world away from bland greasy spoons and bog-standard Indian/Chinese places. My first few weeks at uni reminded me of a beautiful Mediterranean summer holiday with an accompaniment of tapas. Well I was studying languages after all....

Then I discovered it. The temple where worshippers of the Mediterranean sea go. A Mecca for foodies on a budget. A place for those who don't want to spend their lunch hour in a chavvy pub/Macdonalds/chippy. This place was Kimo's.

Back in 2000, Kimo's was a small shop conveniently located close to the Modern Languages department. Fast forward 10 years and they also have a large, more opulent outlet,which is where my review will take place. A self- service cafe open from early in the morning til almost midnight, Kimo's is a fascinating melting pot of students, businessmen, pensioners, tourists and those who just want a good book and a never ending coffee supply. Perfect for people watching. Arabic music plays low in the background and the lighting is suitably dimmed and twinkly, setting the scene. The seating arrangement is a random mix of normal tables and a few couches, chaise longues and patio furniture, giving the place a riot of colour.

The menu reads like a travel guide; the more you read of the menu, the more you get flashbacks of past holidays, holiday programmes and exotic climes. For your less adventurous, egg and chip loving friends, they won't feel out of their depth here if you order a Mediterranean platter as the chef has thoughtfully added burger and chips to the menu. Your mate on a diet won't be presented with a boring salad either, the salads are a taste explosion served with tabouleh and voluptuous olives.

As I am a Kimo's regular, let me take you through a day at Kimo's (if you were to spend 12 hours in a restaurant, that is).

Breakfast: all breakfast options come with a free hot drink, so I start the day with a caffeine kick in the form of a large Americano. It is usually a toss-up between the Arabic brekkie or the Mediterranean. How brilliant to be spoiled for choice as a veggie and not have to settle for uninspiring beans on toast. The Mediterranean breakfast reminds me of my holiday in Istanbul, an artwork of falafel, feta, olives, pickles and salad, drizzled in olive oil and served with a fat pitta. The Arabic breakfast is highly nutritious containing Fava beans (good source of iron)! falafel, foul mudammas, hummus and much more Arabian delights.

Lunch: Forget Boots and their production line meal deals- the sandwiches here are anything but boring and can be quite exotic! You can choose your bread, a bit like in Subway but without the artificial smell and not embalmed in preservatives, then try one of approx. 15 combinations. I am partial to falafel, hummous and salad in summer, but when Christmas time approaches, I have been known to go back to western tastes and have a brie and cranberry doorstop. The sandwiches are so filling and kept me going through my boring uni lectures. Don't forget to wash it down with a mango or freshly pulped guava juice!

Are you keeping up with this belly busting food diary? Room for more? Good. Try the banana cake followed by the carrot cake. PARADISE!

Staying true to my curry-loving stance, I opt for a chunky vegetable curry for my evening meal. This is served with rice and a salad (and the carnivores can have a chicken curry). The curry is good, but just that, good. I would advise going to an Indian restaurant for curry and sticking to Mediterranean/Arabic here as it is what Kimo's specialises in. Try Bamiah instead, a Greek/Egyptian Okra dish which has such a luxurious flavour, the okra plump and succulent. As a side order, why not mix things up a bit and throw in some Spanish tapas? Their take on Patatas Bravas is a breath of fresh air. Its appearance is more Eastern than Spanish as the Brava sauce has the consistency of curry. Fit for Vindaloo Queens and kings, the portion generous. For the omnivores amongst you, the chicken kebab (pictured) is the must-have dish, along with a Halal take on a Full English i.e. no bacon, beef sausage.

The best part of Kimo's is that it is too opulent to be called a 'Caff', too relaxed to be a restaurant in the traditional sense. It is a casual place, yet you can dress well here and not stand out, therefore making it a colourful melting pot. It is chilled out yet vibrant. Relax with a book and spend 5 hours here, grab a quick sandwich, have a three course meal or just a coffee- there are no rules in Kimos and that is what makes it a firm favourite.

So where are you going on holiday next? Greece, Turkey, Tunisia, Spain, Egypt? I'm going to all those places- I'm going to eat at Kimo's!

Kimos Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Hi Vindaloo Kings and Queens!