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Food and Drink Confidential

Kimos, the best kebab shop in Liverpool? Top coffee with a conscience; Cains on a spring; Monro goes wild and gourmet nights with wow at the Mal

Published on May 13th 2010.


Food and Drink Confidential

Kimos, in Mount Pleasant, is many things: a fabulous-looking restaurant; a harmonious meeting point for the world's great cultures; a purveyor of stunningly good, stunningly cheap Mediterranean food. But it's not a kebab shop.

So it must have been a bit of a surprise, though not an entirely unwelcome one, to be named “Best Kebab Shop in Liverpool“ in the regional heat of the WKD Golden Kebab Awards.

Alcopop WKD is used to falling foul of the rules: in 2006 its ads were banned for targeting under age drinkers.

But never mind. It's no surprise at all that Kimos' kebabs were judged the best by drink writers Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham who sampled “the best that Liverpool has to offer in the donor and shish stakes”. Kimos does great kebabs like it does great just about everything else. Erm, except stay open past 10pm, should late-night clubbing WKD drinkers care about that sort of thing.

The accolade is a return to its roots for Kimos which started life as a takeaway on Lodge Lane. Now, if it can see off the challenge from kebab strongholds such as London, Edinburgh and Birmingham, Kimos could be crowned Best Kebab Shop in Britain. Which would, and wouldn't, be a surprise.

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Why do so many people think they know how to run a coffee shop? And why are so many of them wrong?
And why, for goodness' sake, do so few of them serve even a decent cup of coffee?!

We at Confidential have tasted a lot of bad coffee in our beverage-loving travels around the city and its outer reaches. So, what a pleasant surprise to buy a couple of very nice Americanos – strong, full of flavour, single origin, fairly traded – off the back of the van at Lark Lane farmers' market the other week.

And how our hearts did leap with expectation when the personable young man doing the serving and talking about coffee with such, well, passion, announced he was about to open a cafe right around the corner from Confidential HQ.

Bold Street Coffee opened its doors last week in the former Coffee Union building. Owner Sam Tawil, who has been taking a mobile coffee company, Transition Espresso, around the UK and Europe, with sister Kate, for three years, said: “I have always wanted to open a truly independent coffee shop which shows how wonderful coffee can be, and offer a much higher standard than the mediocre buckets of hot milk and stale coffee available elsewhere.

“All our coffees are directly traceable to the farms they were grown on. This direct trade is the most ethical and sustainable way of sourcing coffee and also means we can buy some of the world best and distinctive coffees,” said Sam, originally from Halifax but based in Liverpool for the last seven years.

“It is not just a job, we spend a lot of time training to make consistently perfect coffee.” Sounds just the job.

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IT could give a whole new meaning to a pint of Flowers. Two self-styled gastropubs around town are to support the work of the National Wildflower Centre in Knowsley.The James Monro, in Tithebarn Street, will introduce wildflower hanging baskets and window boxes as part of the conservation charity's aim to create pockets of wildlife in urban environments, though arguably there's enough of that on show in Concert Square most Friday nights.

Meantime, chefs at its sister venue, the Monro, in Duke Street, are planning to grow and use their own vegetables and herbs, alongside wildflowers in the beer garden.Ian Price, group manager for the Monros, said: “We’re thrilled to be doing our bit to promote new wildflower habitats in the city centre and support a national charity which not only promotes the conservation of local wildlife but serves as an important education facility too. We hope our efforts will encourage other people to grow their own wildflowers.”

So next time you're enjoying a drink and a bite in the Monro beer garden and overhear somebody exclaiming “fumaria bastardii!” don't go complaining to the bar staff about foul language – it will only be some local botany enthusiast pointing out the delicate pink blooms of a particularly striking bit of flora rarely seen around Duke Street.

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And more about beer. This time the veritable Cains brand. Cains gets everywhere, even on the menu of a special ale and food gourmet dinner evening at the Malmaison, which we attended a couple of weeks ago.

There, Sid Dusanj, co-Cains' owner, astonished us by announcing that during the Industrial Revolution, many big breweries, including his, were built on springs. Did this explain how Cains bounced back from the brink, as a result of the pub smoking ban doing its worst, last year?

Ah, not that sort of spring. Sid, who is passionate about his beer, explained: Did we know that a natural spring runs underneath the Upper Stanhope Street brewery all the way through rocks under the sea bed from Belfast and down to Nottingham? We were fascinated. The big Burton brewery at Trent, for example, also took its water from it. A mythical spring for years, it has now, miraculously, been found.

Happily, these days, the glass is half full, rather than half empty at Cains; new craft beers are being launched every month and big supermarket orders are keeping business foaming – and everything is now made with that natural spring water.

Mmmm, magic, hippy ley line, good-for-you beer.

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The Malmaison Cains gourmet dinner, with ales galore matched by five fantastic courses from chef Adam Townley (try his truly fantastic Goan prawns when you visit the Brasserie) left us diminutive types feeling rather barrel-like by the end. It might have been the “special stuff” cheeses or the gorgeous Eccles cake affair – or indeed the five pints of beer that left us “rolling out”.

The Mal normally conducts these memorable and imaginative evenings with various wine producers and they are extremely popular.

On Thursday May 27, it's the turn of Els Pyreneus' winemaker Jean-Marc Lafage. Lafage is a master at unlocking the amazing vinous potential that can be discovered on both sides of the Pyrenees - that dramatically beautiful natural frontier where France meets Spain. The mountains exert a strong and widespread climatic influence on the surrounding areas, and are home to a rich, varied and unique culture of language, cuisine, and old, gnarled vines. There are few more exciting places in Europe in which to make wine. Join Aurore de Tapol on a whirlwind tour of the Pyrennees as she showcases the best wines from both sides of the border and brings this fascinating region to life.

For just £35 per person, and room packages available from £115, you'd be crazy not to. Call 0151 229 5000

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