A long-time vegetarian turned vegan , owner Noda Marvani always found it hard to eat out. So, when her father retired from his restaurant business, she decided to take over the venue herself and give the space a new direction.
Koocha’s bold, all-black exterior hints at the snug, stylish space within. There are also bright blue picnic tables on the patio outside for warmer days but Koocha’s brought the outdoors in, too; festoon lighting against a dark ceiling makes for an atmospheric, dining-under-the-stars feel.
What’s the food like?
We’re so caught up in tasting our way through the near-dozen, prettily presented dishes covering our table (all served on beautiful turquoise and terracotta crockery) that we almost forget everything here is vegan.The menu’s short and sweet, with one page for mezze, mains, sides and desserts then another for drinks — including plenty of cocktails and signature G&Ts. We skip the mains and go straight for mezze, sharing eight dishes between the two of us, plus a couple of sides.
We’re big fans of the koopa, recommended by Koocha’s sunny staff — earthy rice balls, deep-fried and loaded with cinnamon and turmeric. Teamed with saffron yogurt, the spiced, marinated cauliflower is gorgeous, too; it’s slow-roasted, which gives it a soothing flavour and texture. A sprinkling of juicy pomegranate seeds offers a fresh, satisfying balance to its creaminess.
Almost everything here is made from scratch (including the seitan used in the kebabs) and what Koocha don’t make themselves they look to the Bristol community to supply. Desserts are brought in from Elspeth’s Kitchen — a vegan, gluten-free bakery down the road from the restaurant — and bread’s sourced from Bristol-based Abunoor Pitta Factory.
And the drinks?
The 100% vegan cocktail and bar menu is the work of bar manager Neil Arnold, who’s another Koocha shareholder. We opt for the vodka-based Apple Crumble, which could double as dessert; apple liqueur, paired with vanilla and falernum syrup, is lifted by apple and lemon juice and served in a short glass with a crumble-coated edge.
The Koocha team are looking to go on the road in 2019, with plans to get a food van for festivals, so keep an eye out for them over the summer.