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Cognito: A Japanese restaurant in the heart of Lincoln city centre


On a recent trip to Lincoln, we visited Cognito, a Japanese restaurant and cocktail bar. It was like nothing we had seen in the city before, so we were keen to find out more about this exciting Japanese eaterie…

Zara Pickles, manager and owner, told us:

“Coming out of lockdown the building that was Revolution Vodka Bar on Park Street in Lincoln came up for sale. It immediately sold, but then fell through and went up for sale again. We had been looking at the premises online and knew it was the one for us, so before the purchase even went though, we had drawn-up our floorplans!

My sister Ellie and I have grown up immersed in hospitality as our parents own the Pyewipe pub on the Fossdyke Canal. We studied hospitality over in Switzerland and have gained a wealth of work experience at different work placements, as well as key skills including interior design, photoshop and AutoCAD to help us with this venture.

We had noticed a gap in the market for a Japanese restaurant in the city. We also wanted to bring a high-end independent restaurant offering to downhill Lincoln, as the uphill city is where the independents tend to gather.

We had big ideas to really put our stamp on the venue and we did everything ourselves. From project management to drawing up the building plans, we wanted to ensure costs were kept to a minimum.

Our vision was a high-end restaurant - with no expense spared. We wanted to create the right ambience, choosing handmade furniture and a bespoke amethyst bar handmade, which was shipped all the way from Spain.

The food and drink goal was to source everything as fresh and local as possible and this has been realised with help from some amazing local suppliers. Everything from our meat (Owen Taylors), fruit and vegetables (FreshDrop), Asian supplies (Tradewinds), teas (Imperial Teas Steep Hill) and gins (Dilly Spirits) are locally sourced and made. We even go as far as making our own fruit juices, cordials and syrups in-house, as we know this brings our customers elevated flavours that they will return again and again for.

As well as the restaurant we have a rooftop terrace which definitely gives ‘big city vibes’. It is a great place for drinks with friends, romantic dates or special occasions, and it is also available for private hire, accommodating up to 50 people. The roof is also fully retractable which is perfect for the long, hot summer nights. It really is a gem in Lincoln’s crown.

We pride ourselves on the menu at Cognito and our amazing chefs can easily accommodate recipes for allergies. All our vegetarian dishes are vegan, and we are a nut free kitchen for peace of mind.

We are now a 20-strong team and have been open nearly 18 months. We have a varied customer base from students and young professionals to retirees. Our aim is to attract people to Lincoln from afar and really show that we are a city to be seen.”

If you’ve not yet visited Cognito, you can book a table online, or connect on Facebook or Instagram.

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