[Los Cristianos, Tenerife] Zoco

The restaurant describes itself as “Arabic New Concept”. No, me neither. Well, Middle Eastern is our favourite “foreign” food – we’re regulars at our local Syrian and I often cook it at home. It’s a brave entrepreneur who opens a new restaurant in these Covid times, so we thought we better get along and see what was what. It’s a shortish menu, mainly of dishes that will be known to anyone who has been to a Lebanese restaurant. And the “new concept” seems to be little more than making a range of houmous, only one of which uses the traditional chickpeas, and having a steak on the menu. OK, a few dishes seem to have an ingredient added to the traditional – maybe a scattering of pomegranate seeds over the dish. It’s a nice modern space, only open a few months, with efficient serving staff who do give the impression that they are smiling behind their masks.

We shared a couple of starters. Tabbouleh was a well made example – as you might expect, mainly finely chopped parsley with a little bulgher wheat added and a lemony dressing. From the hot mezze starters, good kibbe. Nicely seasoned meat in a bulghe coating, served with little dishes of a traditional chickpea houmous and seasoned yoghurt.

For mains, one of us went for kofta kebab. It’s served with rice, mixed with a sprinkling of toasted almonds for crunch. And a few cheffy dabs of an indeterminate sauce. A Moroccan vegetable tagine was really enjoyable. There’s cous cous and long cooked carrot, aubergine, courgette, green pepper. And there’s seitan, which we hadn’t come across before and have no wish to come across again. Its rubbery texture is just not enjoyable – they add it as a vegan protein to the dish.

We shared baklava for dessert. Sweet, but not overly so. And it comes with a yoghurt ice cream, which works well.

So, a pleasant enough dinner but I’m not sure that there’s sufficient grab to bring us back on the next trip.