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Four women putting Plymouth on the cultural and culinary map

Made in Plymouth Community Reporter, Janice Gordon, is starting the New Year with an in-depth look at four women who are helping to put Plymouth on the culinary map and finds the perfect ingredients; food, drink and music!

Cosmic Kitchen  

Identical Twins Gabriela & Lucia Evangelou have quite literally put Plymouth on the map when they became the no. 1 vegan restaurant the UK and number three in the World. 

I met up with them on the day that they were celebrating four years running their warm, buzzing family run business. 

‘Google’ Evangelou, and their father Andreas dominates the screen; the former owner of Club Fandango in Plymouth is now helping in the Ukraine. 

Lucia with her Cypriot heritage is the inspiration to the Cosmic Kitchen’s amazing vegan recipes, with mouth-watering specials every month…January is a hearty warm red lentil and coconut dahl with soya yoghurt tzatziki. The food here is nutritious and local and they also do takeaway. Sunday lunch is also causing quite a buzz with vegan nut roast so you will have to book!

Set in the Barbican area, this old quirky building on Palace Street is the perfect venue for Gabriel’s creativity to excel and Cosmic Kitchen is now getting a name for its music and the entertainment side of the venture.  Dad, Andreas has a wealth of experience here and the line-up for 2024 is impressive, with a wide range of live music, vinyl and comedy nights. You can find many of the event listed on their Facebook page.

Gabriel changes her apron into DJ garb and hosts “Soup” sounds of the underground Plymouth on Saturdays from 9pm till 2am and both Jelly Jazz nights and Comedy at Cosmic nights are scheduled through the month; move the chairs out and drop the lights and the large Church like venue is transformed into a cool vibrant dance space. This collaboration between twins Gabriela and Lucia seems to be a winning formula.

The Hook & Line, Royal William Yard

Alex King’s story is straight out of a Netflix serial, firstly she is an ex-ballet dancer from The Royal Academy of Ballet who while working as head of house for The Hook and Line asked if she could take on the role of Head Chef.  

Alex’s enthusiasm is very apparent as she describes how she plucked up the courage to walk into the kitchen when she heard both Ben Squire and Steve Page who started the restaurant discussing a potential new chef and Alex nervously asked if she could be considered. As the story goes it was a quick and confident yes!  

Maybe the determination and self-belief that goes with training for the ballet had put Alex in the right place at the right time. Alex is now creating wonderful dishes from the fish that come in from their own shoreline boat the Elin D which is crewed by the entire Squire family. 

Alex says because the restaurant is on the sea wall, they are very connected to the sounds and smells of the sea so working with fresh sea food is a real privilege and say: “I get to decide exactly what the dish is going to look like on that day depending on what the boats bring in.”

The Hook & Line was a buzz of activity when I arrived as they have a special colourful Rum bar which traces the history of the Maritime tipple and is the base of many a creative cocktail. It is easy to imagine the original Rum drinker from 1800 swigging his Royal Navy tot at midday, as this old building is full of tradition and bygone atmosphere. 

In fact this independent restaurant on the shore at Royal William Yard is based in the old Victualling Yard for the Royal Navy. Check out social media channels for what’s coming up; there is even talk of an immersive Theatre production in the wings for February! 

But in the meantime their Sunday lunch at £13.95 sounds like a ‘reel catch’. 

Barbican Botanics

It was a freezing cold day when the very old door of Barbican Botanics Gin Bar opened, and I stepped in out of the cold and in to the gorgeous old room with its walls covered in brightly coloured bottles. The scent smell of berries and fun hit me. Tina Oates from the Oates clan from Aberdeen was resplendent in the backdrop of 165 different gin bottles. 

Tina’s parents started Barbican Botanics, which is housed just off the main street in the Barbican in a beautiful old building and houses the bar, a fabulous old sitting room and one floor up the Gin School. Tina was persuaded to come and manage the Gin Bar four years ago and is now the General Manager. 

Tina is obviously a specialist in not only all things Gin but also knows rather a lot about Rum which the group now distils locally.  The Gin bar only has smaller artisan distilled brands and Tina is quite the mixologist as she runs me through some of her favourite mixers and accompaniments, such as pepper and ginger beer to counterbalance a fruity gin. 

The Gin School and masterclasses are on every Saturday from 12-3 (check out of season) and start with a Gin and Tonic to get you in the mood. 

Tina’s plans for the future include live music and there is even an outside seating area to enjoy the late balmy nights which will be heading our way soon-ish!   

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