BAR AND CAFE
‘Soon you 7/ grow/
so take a chance/
with a couple of Kooks/
Hung up on romancing. '
—Koo/<s by David Bowie
So the name comes from a tune oft 1971's Hunky Dory LP and the owners of this new West End Glasgow bar and cafe are the same folk who run Nice ‘n‘ Sleazy across town. Location? The former premises of the late Amsterdam-inspired local favourite. Janssens. lts relaxed style has not been forsaken by Kooks. although the familiar white facade has been replaced with wood veneer frontage and some smart new maroon awnings.
The cooking at Kooks rather belies the ‘cafe' title. Think Cafe Gandolfi and you come closer to the dishes that head chef Simi Donald prepares. Although he emphasises Scottish produce — eg. catch of the day is supplied by the nearby MacCallum‘s of Troon shop — he says he didn't want to be lumbered with a palette that was limited by traditional Scottish recipes.
Instead he favours dishes such as sweet potato, apricot and chick pea tangine or Kerala chicken in a tangy yoghurt-based sauce with green bananas and mango slices. a recipe inspired by the London vegetarian restaurant Rasa. Donald's background is in vegetarian fare: he was with Grassroots when it launched its cafe. More recently he has worked in kitchens at Rococo and Blue. Lighter dishes and starters (perhaps the highlight of the menu) include tasty chunks of monkfish. which are pan-fried and served on braised cabbage and pancetta with a splash of balsamic vinegar. Puddings vary from week to week; black pepper corn ice cream with strawberries and balsamic syrup was a recent popular choice. The staff-selected wines are reasonably priced and include some organic options. as well.
Kooks serves food all day and night long (althOugh it currently closes at 6pm Monday and Tuesday). From 3—5.30pm daily. it features afternoon tea. using a variety of eccentric pots. antique creamers and some hand-knitted cosies that might remind you of your grannies.
Physically. the space is divided between a small ‘bar‘ area next to the open kitchen and the larger dining room to the side. As it has not been created in the vision of any of the local stars of interior design. both rooms rather feel like they've been here a while. Not tired, just comfortable. Pots of herb. chilli and tomato plants line the window sills; scallop shells serve as ashtrays. At night. candelabras add atmOSphere; Turkish rugs and tapestries contribute to the overall warmth here. Nothing terribly kookie 'bout that. (Barry Shelby)
I Kooks, 7355 Argyle Street. Glasgow. 0747 334 9682.
in Argyle Street
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