An original, independent review by :

I hop on the trusty number 20 bus headed for Zoukinis, a vegetarian and vegan restaurant in Westbourne. I haven’t experienced much of the culinary delights of vegetarian food and so my journey has an air of trepidation surrounding it. I’ve always believed that bacon sandwiches are too damn tasty to be forbidden. I needn’t have worried.

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Zoukinis has a range of dishes, from risotto and nut roasts, to light bites like falafel wraps and homemade quiche. I order a selection of Tapas dishes, not having had it since a family trip to Pamplona in Spain. I had loved it, but my lovely but loopy mother wasn’t convinced because the food didn’t come in terracotta dishes. Sure enough, the food arrives, served in the eagerly anticipated terracotta dishes. Hurrah!

Each dish is sumptuous. The pan-fried Halloumi is especially delicious, and I take my time savouring every mouthful. The cheese filled sweet peppers were also amazing and the spicy chickpeas oddly enough came with chunks of chorizo,  . The balance was just right and the spiciness of the chickpeas was not overpowering. Even though I only ordered 3 dishes, it was plentiful and mouth-wateringly satisfying.

My chosen drink is a Raspberry Dream Smoothie that also contains mangos and papaya that is ice cool and instantly refreshing with chewy bits of grape at the bottom. Everything about Zoukinis relaxes you and boosts your wellbeing. I feel healthier, just from being inside the place. This is part of owner, Kellys vision. She strives to provide healthy, high quality vegetarian food that is also gluten free.

“When I first became a vegetarian 25 years ago, the vegetarian options were incredibly limited and un-inspiring. We want to give our customers something more adventurous, allowing them to move away from the standard macaroni and cheese type meals. Vegetarian food does not have to be boring. A particular challenge that I relish is turning meat eaters into vegetarian food lovers. We’ve been known to have husbands dragged in by their wives who end up leaving pleasantly surprised!”

Both the food and Paolo Nutinis Sunny Side Up playing in the background has me beaming. I wander over to check out the CD collection and notice Moon Safari by Air, another ideal album for the place suiting its chilled atmosphere and ambience. The interior and decor is warming and spiritual with Buddha statues. It is inspired by Kelly’s travels around the world. Books are readily available for customers to pop in and have a read, as well as games to keep the kids entertained, giving the customers the freedom to fully enjoy the experience of visiting Zoukinis. One of the games is Carrom. Carrom is thought to have originated in India and it is played on a wooden board that has four holes, one in each corner. The object of the game is to flick discs into the holes with the striker disc before your competitor.

After my time spent in Zoukinis I must admit that I have been swayed by vegetarian food. Zoukinis is definitely a place I would visit again and recommend to even the most stubborn and regimented of meat eaters.