Merienda

Merienda

28th November 2018 6pm

https://eat-merienda.com

We had been wowed by the photos we had seen of Merienda’s food, so hurried ourselves down to Stockbridge to give it a try. It’s a small restaurant that offers Mediterranean style small plates with local produce. We were run through the menu by the friendly staff. The recommendation is around four plates per person. We decided we would get four savoury dishes and one dessert each. I opted for the charcuterie plate, mull cheddar panna cotta, parfait egg and the sea bass. My friend picked the tuna crostini, gnocchi, the parfait egg (again) and the mackerel escabeche. As usual with small plates, they came out when they were ready. My friend ordered some wine, which she said was excellent.

Charcuterie - Merienda

Charcuterie – Merienda

Tuna Crostini - Merienda

Tuna Crostini – Merienda

We first had the charcuterie and the tuna crostini. The meats come from reputable East Coast Cured and there were five different cuts to sample. These were excellent and full of flavour. They also were accompanied by some pickles and olives, which was a nice surprise. The crostini were also tasty. The tuna was balanced on a tapenade and topped with a touch of shallot.

Mull Cheddar Panna Cotta - Merienda

Mull Cheddar Panna Cotta – Merienda

Gnocchi - Merienda

Gnocchi – Merienda

Next up was the mull cheddar panna cotta and the gnocchi. In a snake-like squiggle on the plate, the panna cotta reminded me of posh Dairylea. I’m not sure whether that was a good or bad thing! It was sat in a leek oil and leek shards. A couple of thin grissini were placed on top of the dish too. The gnocchi was probably considered the best dish of the evening. This came with Lanark blue, pesto and pumpkin seeds. It was creamy and comforting.

Parfait Egg - Merienda

Parfait Egg – Merienda

Then came the egg. This was where we really became disappointed. Whilst we ordered two of this dish, it came out in one dish, with two spoons. That in itself would not have been a problem but it looked enough to really only be one portion. We even wondered whether another one would come out. You can see by the photo how small the dish was (they are teaspoons) and we paid £14 for the privilege. The egg was cooked at 64 degrees and had both a savoury crumb (which was a bit soggy) and four small strips of merguez sausage on top. The egg white was not nice to eat when cooked at this temperature, as it was jelly-like, but accept that this could be down to preference. The yolk and the sausage saved it from being a complete disaster but it did leave us feeling a bit miffed.

Sea Bass - Merienda

Sea Bass – Merienda

Mackerel Escabeche - Merienda

Mackerel Escabeche – Merienda

Then we moved onto the fish dishes, with the sea bass and mackerel. The sea bass sat in a bisque foam on top of some braised veg. This was a pleasant dish. The mackerel escabeche could have done with a little more mackerel. This sat with peppers in it’s dressing. Generally a decent dish.

Apple Compote - Merienda

Apple Compote – Merienda

Plum Fool - Merienda

Plum Fool – Merienda

We were still hungry, so continued to plough on with desserts. I chose the apple compote and my dining companion went for the plum fool. My apple compote had a hazelnut and oat crumble scattered on top and a raspberry garnish. It sat in an anglaise sauce which was lovely. The apple had good flavour and was a nice end to the meal. Across from me, the plum fool was sitting on top of some kind of purée or compote. It was infused with port and cinnamon and had a crumb on the top. My friend thought it might have been nice to have the fruit mixed it a little more with the fool, but enjoyed the dish enough nevertheless.

My friend commented to me that she was still hungry, but at this point we had already spent £75 so decided to call it quits. Merienda showed much promise, and I know is being well reviewed elsewhere. Some of these dishes were good. However, I’m not sure this presents good value for money when you are still hungry at the end, and still annoyed about the egg.

Food – 7/10
Service – 9/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Value – 6/10

Overall – 30/40

Would I eat here again? Unsure. Maybe for a quick bite to eat but I would stay away from the egg.

Cost £75 for 8 plates plus two glasses of wine

Dips - BABA

BABA

4th December 2017 6pm

http://baba.restaurant/

I attended the launch of BABA back at the beginning of November and was immediately excited about the place. The food was great but I wanted to put them through their paces during a normal service. Sister restaurant to the wonderful Ox and Finch in Glasgow, BABA‘s food is different in that it is inspired by the flavours of the Levant. BABA’s interiors also reflect this approach. There are lots of communal dining tables as well as smaller tables for a more intimate dinner. That coupled with a cocktail bar area, this is a place that works well for socialising in any level.

I’ll lay it out now – BABA’s dips are amazing. You should easily find something your palate will be delighted by. However, if you can’t chose, they offer a selection instead, which is exactly what we went for. We then also ordered two mains and a side, I went for the lamb shawarma and my friend chose the squid, merguez sausage and salmorejo and we ordered ptitim on the side.

The dips came out in abundance. There were eight in all, including hummus, baba ganoush, beetroot and feta, squash, butter bean, labneh with tomatoes and harissa, muhammara with chilli and walnut and goats cheese with pistachio. Along with the dips we got some grilled pitta bread to scoop up the deliciousness. They were all excellent. I think my favourites were the labneh and the muhammara but all of them were really flavoursome. I could easily see a leisurely afternoon with a few cocktails, working my way through the dips. Definitely worth experiencing.

The mains came out and smelt gorgeous. My lamb shawarma came deconstructed so you could build it how you liked. There was plenty of lamb which was nestled on harissa tomatoes, hummus and garlic tahini. The pitta pockets were warm and ready to be loaded with food. This all tasted gorgeous and there was a sense of gratification eating this dish. On the other side of the table the squid looked fabulous and the taste matched the visuals. The seafood was complemented with the spices coming from the merguez sausage. The ptitim was a little bit more lemony that I’d had last time which was the only thing that didn’t quite hit the mark but was still passable.

BABA’s staff were friendly and happy to give recommendations. It’s clear that they have tried the food and understand the flavours. BABA was a great experience and should be visited – frequently!

Food – 9/10
Service – 9/10
Atmosphere – 9/10
Value – 9/10

Overall – 36/40

Would I eat here again? With those dips? Try to stop me!

Cost – £58 for a sharing set of dips, two mains, a side and two cocktails

Aurora

Aurora

26th November 2017 11am

www.auroraedinburgh.co.uk

We’d been invited by the lovely peeps at Aurora to try out their place. Newly opened in Leith, Aurora had only been open a couple of weeks when we visited but are clearly aware that their small shop front might mean people don’t realise they are there. So here I am, waving a flag for them – because the food is lush. This is not so surprising though, as the chef comes from Salt in Morningside.

Coffee - Aurora

Coffee – Aurora

We decided to visit late on a Sunday morning for brunch (they are currently open 9am-5pm 7 days a week but are trialling some evening openings). The venue is small but perfectly formed. Decked out in stripped wood and interesting decorative features, Aurora is definitely not a greasy spoon. I couldn’t resist ordering the full breakfast – although I toyed with the idea of eggs Benedict and the shakshuka – whilst my friend chose eggs royale with a coffee.

Full Breakfast - Aurora

Full Breakfast – Aurora

We saw some fellow diners’ food come past us and it got us excited. It looked amazing and we weren’t disappointed when our plates arrived. The plates somehow still managed to look clean and sharp, even with breakfasts on them. My breakfast consisted of bacon, sausage, Stornaway black pudding, eggs, tomatoes, portobello mushrooms, sourdough and a smattering of rocket on top. I had asked for my eggs fried but they came poached but I was actually so glad they did as this worked better with the rest of the food and oozed golden yolk. It was clear the foodie cosmos was on my side. I couldn’t fault anything on the dish. I was most amazed by the portobello mushrooms. They had so much intensity that I could have eaten a plateful of those alone. The bacon was crispy without being overdone. The eggs, as I mentioned before, were cooked to perfection.

Eggs Royale - Aurora

Eggs Royale – Aurora

Across from me, my friend was delighted by her eggs royale. The Loch Fyne hot smoked salmon was generous in portion and tasted delicious. The poached eggs were just as good as mine has been. They were sat on top of sourdough and accompanied by wilted spinach. The hollandaise was very clever though. Laced with truffle, the sauce was sparse on the plate. My friend was a little worried there wasn’t enough but with the yolk of the egg, the dish was perfectly balanced. Licking the plate clean was discussed.

We were mightily impressed by Aurora’s offering and was reasonably priced for the quality of the food. It’s worth seeking out that small shop front for the big flavours hidden inside.

Food – 9/10
Service – 9/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Value – 8/10

Overall – 34/40

Would I eat here again? Yes as I have already got my eye on other dishes on the menu.

Cost – this meal was complimentary but would have likely cost just under £20 for a full breakfast, eggs royale and a coffee.

Whilst this meal was complimentary, all views are my own. Thank you to Margherita for organising.

Hummus - Yeni

Yeni

26th April 2017 12.10pm

www.yenirestaurant.com

I wanted hummus. I am not sure if it was my subconscious picking up on the supermarket hummus shortage but I wanted some lovely fresh hummus. So I wandered along to Yeni on Hanover Street for some lunch. Yeni offers Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Meze dishes. They have a pretty nifty lunchtime offer of three meze for £9.95 so I decided to order some plates from that, although the a la carte menu is also available should you feel like pushing the boat out. Whilst some of the options come with a cost supplement, everything I chose did not. So I obviously went for the hummus but also picked the anchovies and the calamari.

Hummus - Yeni

Hummus – Yeni

Not too long after, the hummus, with a side of pitta, arrived along with the anchovies. Meze, like tapas, comes out when it’s ready so the calamari took a little bit longer to arrive as it required more prep and cooking time. I dolloped a beautiful spoonful of hummus onto my plate and scooped up some with the comfortingly warm pitta. This was very good stuff. The garlic was present but not overpowering and light oil swirl added some extra moisture to make it go just that little bit further. The anchovies were a delightful surprise. Whilst they were in a lemon and herb oil, there was almost something sharp about the dressing that brought out the beauty of the oily fish. They melted deliciously on the tongue too. I had to stop myself from gobbling them all up in one go. The calamari didn’t look how I expected it. More often than not it will arrive in rings and if not, in wide rectangles. These were long strips but still had a bit of thickness to them. They came breadcrumbed and I have to say the colour (a slightly Trump-orange hue) made me worry that the calamari may be chewy inside. I was wrong – they were perfectly fine. The accompanying chilli mayo dip seemed more of a paprika heavy flavour which I think was ok but perhaps not the best match for the calamari. Perhaps this was the dish I was least enthused about.

All in all, Yeni provided a good lunch and certainly hit my hummus craving. However, it’ll actually be the anchovies I will race back for.

Food – 8/10
Service – 8/10
Atmosphere -8/10
Value – 8/10

Overall – 32/40

Would I eat here again? Mmmmm anchovies and hummus

Cost £9.95 for the lunchtime three meze deal