Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Kokako – we'll get there fast and then we'll take it slow

God bless Kokako Cafe for offering a good organic option in the culinary wasteland that is Newmarket. Kokako's coffee is excellent and the service is fun. The food is good too, although I'd like to suggest a couple of changes, and these apply to other cafes as well:

1. No more super-chilled salads. They look great behind the glass, but the cold storage conditions remove most of the flavour from what is usually a fairly subtle tasting dish anyway. Worst of all is pumpkin, a vegetable of marginal utility at the best of times, but one which becomes unspeakably bland when cooked, cut into two inch cubes and chilled down to 4 degrees. NB: a little nutmeg sprinkled on top will not solve this problem.

2. Learn how to get the most out of those beautiful organic ingredients. One example: I had a chickpea and cauliflower fritter the other day. Now doesn't that look nice to on the page: “chickpea and cauliflower”? It was nice enough, but the cauliflower wasn't contributing much apart from bulk. If you've never tried cauliflower roasted before, you won't know how sweet and nutty and satisfying it can get with the right treatment. If you're going to such efforts to source organic produce, a little effort learning how to cook it would be well spent.

3. Use more seasoning. A few years ago salt developed a bad reputation, and now any cafe with a whiff of health or ethicism won't go near it. But the judicious application of salt is essential to extracting flavour from most meat and vegetables, particularly if you're cutting back in ingredients which contain fat, your only other chance of getting some deliciousness onto that plate.

Anyway, three suggestions is probably enough for a cafe which is actually doing a lot of things right. As I say, the service is particularly great, and I'd pay it a visit just to say hi to the staff, one of whom gave me a free poached egg last time I was there. When was the last time someone gave you an egg?

Okay, well this is the wrong time of the year to ask. But if we hadn't just had Easter you would have been scratching your head.