Kokob, Rue des Grands Carmes, Bruxelles 1000

Scores out of 10: Veggie-friendly : 3/5; Vegan friendly : TBC; Ambience: 4.5/5;Service: 3/5;Quality of cooking: 3/5; Overall score: 4/5 ( this score cannot be compared to scores in London)

Set in the heart of central Brussels, a stone's throw from the Grand Place is a cute Ethiopian restaurant called Kokob. Its nearly always fully booked and the guests are not tourists. This place is rammed to the rafters with the cool, hip,unusually diverse locals from Brussels. So if you want a table in the summer, get there early.

I can certainly see why this place is popular. The walls at Kokob are dotted with images from Africa and the music is very lounge-ish and laid-back yet trendy. The staff are confident, 20-somethings; the delightfully cheerful and regal Addis for example struts about on Saturday evenings with a fantastic head-dress and with all her rich Ethiopian finery and makes it unashamedly yet subtly apparent that we should be delighted to be introduced to the culture and cuisine from her homeland.

Unlike most restaurants in Brussels, Kokob actually have a fairly large selection of veggie options and the waitresses have assured me that the fried food is cooked separately from the meat. (I still haven't worked out their Gallic response re: the cheese-rennet issue though). The other nice thing is that you get a complimentary little alcoholic bevvy beforehand (a big cough syruppy, but quite nice to get one in the mood for an evening of chilled-out fun)

The food at Kokob is served on a platter that's layered with the beautifully light and unusual Injera bread. Each of the mains and sides is scooped by the waitress onto this platter and diners are provided with rolls of the injera bread to mop up the food with. Everyone in your dinner party group eats from the same main platter, which makes it a really fun, sharing experience and a great way to spend an evening trying many different and unusual dishes without feeling awkward to ask for a taste of someone else's dish :-).

Service is a bit on the very-slow side, but one doesn't notice that too much given the funky attitude.

I dont know very much about Ethiopian food at all. So I don't really know if the dishes were cooked right. To me they are a bit "much of a muchness" because I'm still experimenting. I prefer their side dishes to their mains which are mainly tomato based except for the spinach and tofu dish which my friends loved. I think quite a few dishes taste a bit like one particular Indian curry, but then I'm no expert on African cuisine by any means and I'm probably missing the subtleties.

At the moment and to my untrained palate, their cubed potatoes and bulgur-wheat based kiser are absolutely outstanding. I love the injera bread. Everything else, I don't really care too much about.

I welcome the opinions of those who know better. But thought I should flag this restaurant as one well worth a visit in any case. Kokob's veggie-friendly, central and very cool. The staff are lovely and it would be a shame to miss it when you are next in Brussels.


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