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Kosmos Taverna

Philip Hamer goes in search of Greek-Mancunian gastronomic royalty

Published on September 10th 2008.

Kosmos Taverna

There are restaurants tucked away in Manchester that seem to have been around forever. Sometimes the reason for their survival is baffling. But as soon as you taste the food at Kosmos, you know instantly why it has lasted so long. Situated opposite Owens Park in the student heart of the city, it has built up a loyal customer following since it opened in 1981.

Fresh food well cooked is to the fore here. You’ll have to go elsewhere for those clichéd, high-kicking, plate-smashing gimmicks that have obscured a true appreciation of Greek cuisine in this country.

A family restaurant belonging to Loulla and Stewart Astin, its success owes much to the personality of Loulla who, as the closest Manchester can get to Greek gastronomic royalty, was recently honoured with an invitation to Buckingham Palace. Her father opened the first Greek restaurant in the North West in Manchester after the war, and Loulla became a prominent TV chef cooking for her regular customers Richard and Judy on This Morning when it was filmed in Liverpool. She then branched out on her own with the very successful Simply Greek series, and has appeared on TV regularly ever since.

With this illustrious history behind the restaurant, it's no surprise that fresh food well cooked is to the fore here. You’ll have to go elsewhere for those clichéd, high-kicking, plate-smashing gimmicks that have obscured a true appreciation of Greek cuisine in this country. There is a long and detailed menu with an attractive vegetarian option. Prices are very keen and you need to be warned that portions are generous.

We decided to eat from the meat and seafood mezethes, both priced at £18 per person. It was the freshness of the hummus, taramaslata and Greek and tabouleh salad starters that so impressed, with the salad lightly seasoned and not awash in oil.

Subtle flavouring and freshness continued when we approached the core of the mezethes. This consisted of dolmathes (lamb stuffed wine leaves); kieftethes (lamb meatballs in aromatic sauce); halloumi (deep-fried Cypriot cheese served with salad); loukanika (seasoned Greek sausage); kalamarakia (seasoned and deep-fried squid); revithia (chick peas in spinach, cumin and coriander) and my personal favourite, the beautifully tender stefado (pork in a spicy tomato sauce). A lamb kebab served with rice followed, but though it was nicely chargrilled, it was too underdone for my taste.

At the heart of the seafood mezethes were whitebait, jumbo prawns and a revelation in the form of truly tender halibut served in a piquant ouzo sauce. The normally unpalatable paint-stripper ouzo surprised me in this context – it succeeded in enriching this lovely dish. A nicely moist swordfish kebab with rice brought the mezethes selection to a close.

Choosing a wine to accompany the cacophony of flavours from the mezethes was a challenge but the list here is strong. The splendidly dry red (£18.50) or aromatic white (£17.50) from the Ch Kefraya winery in the Lebanon was sufficiently complex to provide intriguing drinking. The real star though is the full range of Metaxa Greek brandies that are well priced and often underrated (the Five Star is £3.50, the Seven Star £4, and the Grande Fine is £5).

No one should leave the Kosmos without trying a Charlotta – a no-jelly Greek trifle gently flavoured with orange liqueur and rosewater custard (£4).

Two good deals are offered here. Between 6pm and 7.30pm, Monday to Friday, you can sample two courses for £12 or three for £14, and there is a really excellent student special for £7.50.

Rating: 15/20
Breakdown: 7/10 Food
4/5 Service
4/5 Ambience
Address: Kosmos Taverna
248 Wilmslow Rd
M14 6LD
0161 225 9106

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

StavrosSeptember 10th 2008.

yannis.i you must get offa the fence and be telling us exactly what you are thinking.

yannis i.September 10th 2008.

i am greek and i cannot believe that the review is so kind to this place. I found the food filthy, badly cooked, poor ingredients, not tasting properly greek. The ambient is awful and completely out of time. It is proper 70's greek kitsch. Also the restaurant is cypriot and not greek.I went a couple of times because i was invited for dinner but i d never ever step my foot in there.

Peter ClareSeptember 10th 2008.

We pop there fairly often and it's never let us down. We both regularly eat in fine dining restaurants both here and abroad and gotta say Gordo, for me it's worth a 16. Also the friendly service, kitch decor and good value make it a top choice for both casual visits and Friday nights out with a bunch of friends.

Simon TSeptember 10th 2008.

This is a very ordinary restaurant at best. No interesting dishes, no zing; just 'Greek' by numbers. Yeah, and dated and dirty. Avoid.

NeetSeptember 10th 2008.

Which Greek restaurant would you recommend then yannis.i?

StephenJuly 26th 2010.

Had dinner at the Kosmoss this evening, food fine, quite tastey and certainly a Greek atmosphere. If you are looking for fine dining this restaurant is not for you, but if you want a meal similar to that you just had on holiday in Greece, you will like this restaurant.

AnonymousFebruary 27th 2012.

Wrote about this place for our blog, didn't quite live up to some of the recommendations here but I suppose time has passed since then...

EDITORIAL - hey cheeky, don't advertise your blog on here.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 28th 2012.

Ooops sorry! Didn't mean to be cheeky! Just wanted to say it wasn't great, main courses were really bland and they refused to honor their living social deal properly. We normally love the old school/traditional places but we were really disappointed.

Next time I promise I will keep my links to myself!

DorothysmithSeptember 17th 2012.


AnonymousSeptember 17th 2012.

Give them a chance? They've been there years and years, you'd have thought they'd have discovered some flavours, moved up a level and maybe even cleaned up the toilets.

AnonymousJune 4th 2013.

I love the food here but took my Mum and she hated it because the place is just so grubby. So grubby in fact, she still mentions it a few years later. She says 'like that restaurant you like, you know, the filthy one'

1 Response: Reply To This...
IanJune 4th 2013.

Imagine how filthy it is in the kitchen...

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