With walls adorned by sketches of musical paraphernalia weaved in cassette tape ribbon, the influences in international DJ Tim Healey’s debut gastronomic venture (shared with his wife, Rebecca) are evident from our first step in the door. Though they tell us the name refers to Brighton’s famous quirky atmosphere, we’ve a sneaky suspicion that the associations we make to a certain indie-pop quartet (hailing from our very own city) aren’t a total accident either.
We have to admit, we’d set our expectations a little high in the run up to our Kooks visit. With promises of a bistro restaurant/cocktail bar that combines great food with a killer playlist, it seemed like our idea of culinary heaven – and we weren’t disappointed. Greeted by a contrast of red and yellow hues, warm walnut shades and industrial greys, the interiors at Kooks create an electric atmosphere, while somehow retaining a comfortable homeliness. It’s incredibly welcoming and bright, serving as the perfect visual backdrop to our evening. Our ears were set to be well-catered for too – a border of framed vinyl records outlines the ceiling, offering insight into the soundtrack due to be dished up; we knew we’d be satisfied when we spotted classics by the Manic Street Preachers and Velvet Underground & Nico.
And that’s before we even begin on the food. We started with the parma ham purse (with melon mozzarella, mango puree and mint leaves, £5) – a delectably light balance of sweetness, creaminess and subtle saltiness fit to accompany any drink (we found it worked particularly well with bubbles, as self-indulgent as that may be). Mains were split between the spinach, ricotta and vegetarian Parmesan gnocchi (with roasted goats cheese, peppers and rocket, £10.50), and sirloin steak (with chimichurri, grilled baby leek and twice-cooked chips, £15), which were equally incredible and cooked to perfection – we loved that as much care was taken with the vegetarian option as the carnivorous one.
Too stuffed for a dessert (we’re gutted, since their Key Lime Pie and Brazilian Crème Caramel look delightful), and too poor for a cocktail (though we hear they do the best espresso martinis in the city), we say our goodbyes. Cooking great food while playing awesome tunes from 10am-late each day, we plan on taking full advantage of Gardner Street’s Kooks’ opening hours (and with company as good as theirs, why wouldn’t we?). We fancy it for Sunday brunch, however the prices do stretch just outside the student budget, so maybe we’ll have to wait for a cause for celebration to return…
By Nammie Matthews