There was a time when Loulla Astin seemed to be never off the TV screens – at least here in the North West. There was a time when Kosmos appeared in the Good Food Guide. Of course, these times are some 30 years ago but Kosmos is still doing what it does – serving up a pretty standard set of Greek Cypriot dishes at very reasonable prices to a mainly student customer base.
We’d been in Cyprus last year and were interested to see how Kosmos’ set mezze meal compared to the four meals we’d had “over there”. Well, truth be told, not as good as even the most touristy of the four. Now, that’s not to say that the food was bad or that we didn’t have a pleasant evening. It wasn’t and we did. But it lacked a “something”. Or maybe “somethings” – a lack of assertive seasoning and spicing, a loss of absolutely ripe tomatoes and other salad ingredients, a sense that quality was just lacking a tad.
First up, a selection of bog standard dips – houmous, tzatziki, taramosalata – tabbouleh and a mixed feta salad. Served with just about enough bread. Nothing offensive here but nothing to interest either – the sort of food you can easily make at home and, most likely, do a better job. Certainly we could.
Then the hot “second course” items. A very decent stifado, rich with onions. Rethivia – chickpeas in what was probably the best spicing of the evening – a tomato sauce flavoured heavily with cumin and a punch from chilli and coriander. Another plate of standard mezze fayre – grilled halloumi, a spicy sausage, tender and very tasty lamb meatballs, dolmades (as my partner suggested – not as good as Marks & Sparks), spanakopita (sp?) – crisp non-greasy pastry encasing spinach and a salty feta – and the most enjoyable thing on that plate
And the final course – lamb kebabs and rice. Good rice, nicely flavoured with a hint of cinnamon. The kebabs a bit of the curate’s egg – one perfectly cooked and meltingly tender; the other a bit overdone and quite chewy.
The mezze costs £18 which is probably not bad value for Manchester but we recalled the far better quality we’d eaten in Cyprus for less than that in euros.