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Restaurant review: You've got a pitta pocket or two

It's love at first bite for AA Grill who coos over cous cous and coffee at Kimos

Published on September 22nd 2010.

Restaurant review: You've got a pitta pocket or two

I LOVE Kimos. And I’ve only been twice. I loved it so much the first time, that I went back four days later and spent half the meal, like an adolescent with a crush, telling my friend Matty how much the place meant to me.

It’s not like it was the drink talking. You can’t buy a drink, not the alcoholic kind, and you can’t take your own. Instead, there’s fabulous coffee, or a mountain of oranges pressed into service before your eyes.

This is the best looking restaurant
in the city, with the exception only of Alma de Cuba which is housed in a church built when the Vatican had more money than incense

First time was lunch with the family. Outside, Mount Pleasant impersonated the South Pole; inside, a warm feeling wasn’t just coming from the jet-black, five-feet-tall, wall-mounted radiators.

Our six-year-old loved the place so much that when I threatened to abandon our visit because I couldn’t use my credit card, he sobbed. Loudly. Luckily, I found a twenty down the back of my shoe.

Kimos (prounced Key-mo’s) looks amazing: dramatic Moroccan-style lights hang from a ceiling that’s a twinkly, starry sky; no two sets of table and chairs the same, some with banquettes, others with chaises longues or hand-carved chairs; cool grey walls; passionate purples; potted palms; wrought iron; striking, wall-to-ceiling mirrors.

But unlike a thousand lazy pub refurbishments, this is no clutter of miscellaneous bric-a-brac. Every piece fits and it came as no surprise to be told, by joint owner Abraham Billal, that the conversion job took “two years of planning, thinking, and long nights”. The result is the best looking restaurant in the city with the exception only of Alma de Cuba, and that has the advantage of being housed in a former Catholic church built when the Vatican had more money than incense.

Kimos began life as a takeaway in Lodge Lane. Owner Kamal Idris swapped that for a cafe in Myrtle Street (still there, doing very nicely) before opening a branch in Mount Pleasant. It thrived, Abraham came on board, and they built on their success, not by expanding the empire, but by shutting down the Mount Pleasant premises and moving two doors down. Bigger, better, bolder, same menu, same prices.

The owners are both half Liverpudlian/half North African, the menu loosely Mediterranean, although Kamal’s fast food roots are in evidence. Despite appearances, Kimos is utterly unpretentious: plastic salt pots, get-your-own cutlery, order at the counter, pay up front. No airs, no graces, no credit. But who needs American Express when you can eat like royalty for less than twenty-five quid for two?

It’s a huge place to fill – two big rooms and another downstairs for functions – but Sunday lunchtime was pleasantly packing out. People go for breakfast, lunch, tea, supper, or any time at all.

However much money you throw at a restaurant, however friendly the staff (and they are), the thing that defines it is the people who go there; in Kimos’ case, a multitude of ages and ethnicities spanning Europe, Africa and America, all at ease with themselves and their surroundings. “The whole world in one cafe,” Abraham calls it.

We had the world on our plates: chicken burger and fries (£3.30), pizza (nice base, cheese and tomato topping, £3), a huge pitta pocket (£3.90) packed with scrumptious vegetables.

Kebdah, an African dish, was on the breakfast menu - even if fried, diced lamb’s liver with tomatoes, onion, parsley, garlic and cumin is not the first thing you might think of to accompany your cornflakes. Gorgeous, it was, though; the juices mopped with soft, sweet pitta bread.

Breakfast is big at weekends and includes familiar stuff like eggs, mushrooms, hash browns and – they don’t do bacon – beef sausages. And a good veggie alternative. It’s £3.50, with tea or coffee thrown in, and they serve it right through to 5pm for the night shift worker and the bone idle.

Oh, and there are kebabs, and sandwiches (regulars rave about the club sandwiches), and paninis, and jacket potatoes, and soup and a roll, and Uncle Tom Cobley with a choice of rice or chips.

And when I returned with Matty, the best hummus (£1.50) ever, and fried potatoes with mushrooms in a herby mushroom butter sauce (£3), soaked up with more of that lovely pitta bread.

Molokhia (£6.90) was an Egyptian blend of chicken, spinach, garlic, cumin and tomato making a lightly spiced, satisfying stew, while lamb curry (£6.90) – generous shreds of lamb in a rich sauce – could hold its head up in any respectable curry house. Both came with good basmati rice and sparklingly fresh salad.

Is there a catch in all this? Not really, although Kimos is halal, which, in debates about animal welfare, is a contentious issue but by no means a clear cut one. So to speak. Vegetarians, it should be said, can, and do, eat very well in there.

One admirer told us no matter how bad she’s feeling, an hour in Kimos is enough to cure her. I’d recommend a course of Kimos therapy to anyone . . .

Rating: 16/20
Breakdown: 7/10 Food
4/5 Service
5/5 Ambience
Address: Kimos
38 Mount Pleasant Liverpool
L3 5SD
0151 707 8288

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10 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Dan the manDecember 6th 2007.

I hadn't been to the Kimo's in Mount Pleasant until relatively recently either. Passed by lots of times but it looked like a modern pub from the outside. I couldn't believe the quality of the food when I did finally try it and tell all my friends (especially the skint ones) about it now. Kimo's is ace.

A. E. ScousemanDecember 6th 2007.

Bah! Johnny-come-lately reviewer! Kimos has been going for absolute YONKS (about 15 years?) both at 45 Mount Pleasant (the old AUEW building) from where it moved to its present address last year, and on Myrtle Street.It has always been brilliant! You used to be able to smoke in there too!

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 21st 2011.

yeah, and i used to love the restaurant there before Kimos at 45 Mt Pleasant, Palm Oasis. Anyone else remember that beauty?

Perry MasonDecember 6th 2007.

There is nowhere better if you are on a budget, or not on a budget. The Sunday morning breakfasts with lots of the fresh orange from the juicer are just the thing for a hangover.

BenzoDecember 6th 2007.

I recommend the meat pockets - enough garlic in them to repel 100 vampires. Wash it down with a mint tea. You can't go wrong

Suzanne OwensDecember 6th 2007.

Thank you for highlighting what a brilliant place this is. The decor is amazing and the "ethnic" side of the menu is cheap and delicious. I agree about loving Kimos. It is a really delightful restaurant.

V. I. Lenin AirportDecember 6th 2007.

Whilst obviously I don't want the places I like to frequent to be swamped with loads of students, mouthy estuarines and other arriviste undesirables, but I really think that Liverpool Confidential ought to give these places publicity whilst the likes of the City Council, the Daily Post and the Echo only promote gangster bars, chimp hotels and other expensive establishments frequented by shifty-looking characters who wear suits without ties. It strikes me that when the Echo or the Post talks about ‘exclusive’ it just means pricy and kitsch! And who are these ‘celebrities’ in the so-called “VIP areas”?

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 21st 2011.

Well said! 'Exclusive' loosely translated means 'for chavs on credit card who don't know what quality is'!

AnonymousDecember 2nd 2011.

I love Kimos

cinaedFebruary 22nd 2013.

I lost as soon as the word six-year-old was mentioned
dinner never; lunch maybe; breakfast ? there's a thought

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