Describing itself as “Brighton’s Boho Bistro”, Kooks is named after the eccentric tribe residing in this great city. Set in the heart of the North Laines, the restaurant is owned and run by DJ and producer Tim Healey and his wife Rebecca.
I have been fortunate enough to eat both lunch and dinner at Kooks in the past week. The restaurant, which opened back in May, has long been on my to-do list and so dining here twice in the space of a week was a real treat.
Already boasting a loyal following and very positive reviews, the restaurant is stylishly fitted out with stools at the bar (which I love) and plenty of seating space out back, creating a laid back and intimate setting. The artwork on the back wall was produced specifically for Kooks, with creative guidelines from Healey (who more recently worked as a Creative in advertising) and complimenting this mural are framed LP’s from his personal record collection. It is also no surprise then, that the playlist is also curated by Healey.
The daytime menu, which is served until 5pm consists of some good breakfast, brunch and sandwich options. The main lunch menu is served from midday and offers a range of dishes including burgers, fish & chips, a Mediterranean salad and the dish I selected- Indian spiced chicken and chorizo salad with pickled apricots and garlic mint yoghurt dressing, topped with croutons (£11).
I wasn't really sure about ‘warm salads’ until I had one in Australia and had to totally renege on my mistrust of them. In my opinion, chorizo can make anything taste good, but in this case, it wasn’t the only star of the show. The sweet citrus flavour from the dressing, smokey chorizo, the lovely crunch of the croutons and the garlic mint yoghurt dressing added another tasty dimension. I found the flavour of the pickled apricot a little subtle for my taste and had hoped this would add a tart or more acidic element to the dish. I am splitting hairs though. Generous amounts of chicken and chorizo and lots of different tastes and textures to wrap your palate around made for a lovely lunch.
I grew up very close to the ‘Rhubarb Triangle’ in Yorkshire, so it's only natural that I instinctively home in on any rhubarb option. The rhubarb creme brûlée with thyme biscuits was a delight. A pretty extravagant way to end lunch on a Tuesday you might say - thick, sweet, indulgent cream and big chunks of soft, slightly tart rhubarb, accompanied by a contrasting sweet and savoury thyme shortbread biscuit.
Impressed by their lunch menu, the following Friday I swung by for an evening meal. There's more of a buzz as the after work, weekend drinks kick in. The service was friendly and attentive and we soon had our drinks before us as we perused the dinner menu. I later regretted sharing the starter of Thai style fish bites with lime and coriander dipping sauce (£6). I would quite happily have eaten a plate of these on my own as a main meal. Fresh sweet and sour Thai flavours made for quite a delicious starter and complimented the glass of Vinho Verde, Inés, Adega de Monção beautifully.
My veggie companion chose the spinach, ricotta and vegetarian parmesan gnocchi with roasted goats cheese, griddled courgettes, peppers and wild rocket (£12). I opted for the antithesis and ordered a medium rare 28 day aged rib-eye steak, grilled baby leeks and twice cooked chips which came with a choice of sauces; chimichurri or black bean and Beavertown Holy Cow stout sauce (£17). I have had so many disappointing steaks in the past that I often dare not venture into steak territory. However, it was one of the best steaks I have had in a long time. The chimichurri sauce - finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano and white vinegar - was a perfect partner to the steak and a great dipping sauce for the chips.
The gnocchi option provided a very generous portion of goats cheese and accompanying griddled vegetables. With lovely flavour combinations, the spinach, ricotta and vegetarian parmesan gnocchi was an absolute delight. I really couldn't fault the food, consistently good quality dishes offering a great range of flavours, throughout both the lunch and dinner.
Healey's creativity and attention to detail translate in both the food and the atmosphere at Kooks. On meeting him, I get the impression that he has applied this ethos throughout his career, which has resulted in considerable achievement and success. One can only conclude then, that this new venture created with the same enthusiasm will follow the same fruitful path.Kooks
56 Gardner Street
01273 673 045
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