7 March 2012
127 Lordship Lane
tel:020 8693 7034
By Michael Holland
There’s something really nice about Lordship Lane on a Saturday. It is packed with excellent independent stores providing new style delicacies and long-lost favourites (I spotted beef dripping in the organic butcher’s), with just the slightest dash of chain store because they get in everywhere by waving loadsamoney at councils and private landlords.
On the strip now is newcomer Koz, a Mediterranean restaurant that does not stray much further than Turkey for its Mediterranean cuisine, but which has the ancient Ottoman heritage as a foundation for its authentic traditional dishes, though now with a modern twist.
First thoughts when entering Koz were that it looked smart: the wine glasses sparkled; the cutlery was shiny and the linen crisp. The muted shades of brown created an atmosphere of calm. Mum and me were welcomed like old friends and were offered any table of our choosing.
We chose the nearest one and ordered a Chilean Merlot from a very reasonably priced wine list, as that is Mum’s favourite. Our smartly dressed host admired how I looked after mum’s tastes before my own, then asked if we wanted to try the Koz Meze, which translates, more or less, as Big Feast. Previous experience of lots and lots of food coming non-stop helped us quickly decline that offer, deciding to go for our own choices.
But with a menu full of mouth-watering dishes, it was not that easy to choose, and the full-blooded, extremely moreish Merlot did not help the decision-making, as we both kept finding dishes that sounded better than our original choice. A plate of olives and a basket of warm bread were placed before us, which prolonged the process.
Eventually, with the waiter hovering, we decided to go for it, and it wasn’t long after ordering that Mum’s chicken livers and my whitebait arrived.The livers, lightly sautéed with red wine, were just right and Mum sang their praises between each mouthful. My starter was just as nice; crisp little devils that had given up their little lives in their millions for good reason – To become whitebait. Well done, Lads.
Turkish music played and its jangly sound wafted around the lampshades that looked like they had come from a real Central Asian bazaar. As the mood of old civilisations manifested itself through the music, Mum spoke about a serious operation she has coming up while I kept quiet about my stiff neck.
Soon after our empty plates were cleared away the main courses replaced them. Mum had gone for her old favourite, Sea Bass. She was given the choice of the fish on the bone or filleted, which is a nice touch, and she went for the latter. The fish was given just enough grilling to give it colour without overcooking, and Mum said it was good which is all I need to know.
I had found something new and interesting on the menu which I thought I’d try, Islim Kebab. This was lamb cubes wrapped in slices of baby aubergine, baked with tomato sauce and fresh herbs. It came as a large mound and must have taken some time to assemble, and was surrounded by a moat of tomato sauce. The soft aubergine dissolved in your mouth, and the tender lamb was just as easy to eat.
So, with two main courses enjoyed immensely and the end of the Merlot in sight, we both felt sated and good about the day. Then our waiter came with the dessert menu and recommended the homemade Baklava. Suckers for a suggestion we both said yes to that.
The boss then came over and told us how he had the chef make them long and round instead of the usual square shape, in order to give them the Koz uniqueness. It worked; these Filo-pastry rolls of nuts and honey were works of art. Their sweetness lingered all the way home and right through Harry Hill’s TV Burp.
Koz seems to have got it right, though not by luck but because someone has done their homework and put in the hard work learning the business.
Chicken Livers £4.25
Sea Bass £12.95
Islim Kebab £11.95
Baklava x 2 £7.00
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