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|Address:||127 Lordship Lane, London SE22 8HU|
|Tel:||020 8693 7034|
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Koz strives beyond the realm of your average neighbourhood taverna. Service is bright and engaging, with an owner who is quite the raconteur (albeit only the regulars receive the full ‘captain’s table’ treatment). And no wonder the place is busy; it’s family friendly and amazing value amid the sea of pricey gastro pubs in and around Lordship Lane.
Mezze dishes spanning the Middle East were promising starters, although I suspect you’d have to go some to get griddled halloumi wrong. Cacik, a lemon-spiked and herbacious yoghurt dip, was so moreish that we devoured it straight from the spoon. But then, along with the mains, came sadness: the world’s first moussaka containing no aubergine whatsoever. All that courgette, spud and the occasional crumb of lamb mince swam about in a thin, sloppy sauce. Next there was pure weirdness; a kebab composed of four gargantuan sausages, lashed together with skewers and served on a plate the size of a car bonnet. That way madness (and morbid obesity) lies. While the latter was flavoursome and I’d never begrudge an authentically retro salad garnish (raw peppers, iceburg and a fridge-cold cherry tomato), the moussaka was a real disappointment.
It’s a real shame because a decent moussaka should make you wonder why you ever bother eating anything else, for all its comforting density. That neat marriage of garlicky, nutmeg and cinnamon-dusted lamb and smokey aubergine, topped with a firm, eggy bechamel layer browned by a fierce oven… it should be great. But none of that seasoned-Nana touch made its way to our mains; in fact I wish we’d stuck to the mezze. After that mountain of meat, there was no way I was letting a dessert near me.
Koz always looks pretty and smart with its laser-cut lanterns and exposed, sprawling oven. The welcome was warm and professional which translated to jollity among the huge groups of diners, and the menu initially seemed to be a crowd pleaser. But the arsenal of good honest dishes this traditional cuisine boasts isn’t being shown in the most glittering light, even if the prices are encouragingly fair. Nail the classics and I'd be back in a heart beat.