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

Smoked Chorizo Mac and Cheese - Harry’s Bar

Harry’s Bar

5th May 2018 2pm

https://harrysedinburgh.co.uk/

Yet another Itison voucher (well actually two) brought Edinburgh Feasts to Harry’s Bar. On arrival they didn’t seem to have our booking, but this was no bother and they accommodated us. You can find Harry’s in a spacious basement, offering fab drinks and tapas. We greedily had a voucher each but we had chosen slightly different options. Each voucher offered four tapas dishes but mine came with a cocktail and my friend’s voucher came with a glass of prosecco (at a slightly cheaper price). Without the voucher, you can get 3 tapas for £14. I ordered the chorizo mac and cheese – which my friend highly recommended, moules frites, courgette tempura and calamari rings. My friend picked the mac and cheese, tempura fish bites, chilli and garlic king prawns and potato cubes, chorizo and cider sauce. I ordered the rhubarb and elderflower gin cocktail but sadly they were out of the gin. However, they did offer to make an alternative with ordinary gin and rhubarb bitters which tasted lovely.

The feast spread out before us and I really didn’t know where to start. I put my sensible hat on and started with the calamari as that was likely to turn quickly. They looked a little anaemic but actually tasted fine. They were generously sliced rings and the dip was delicious. The courgette tempura was great and also had a similar accompanying dip. I could pretend I was being a little bit healthy whilst also managing to enjoy the light tempura too.

The moules frites were probably enough to be a lunch on its own. I ended up passing the fries to my friend and focussed on the mussels, which were of good quality and sat in a light, creamy sauce. Lastly, but by no means least, was the chorizo mac and cheese. My dining companion was not wrong on how good this tasted. You even get a couple of bits of garlic bread alongside to dunk in it. If I bought this voucher again, I would seriously consider just ordering four of these. The cheese was oozy and the pasta luscious. The chorizo added a lovely twist.

Smoked Chorizo Mac and Cheese - Harry’s Bar

Smoked Chorizo Mac and Cheese – Harry’s Bar

Across the table from me, mac and cheese aside which was already a given, the dishes were also going down a treat. The potato, chorizo and cider was a particular favourite. The prawns were big and juicy but the fish bites were probably the most uninspiring of the lot.

The staff were great in Harry’s Bar, with what I assume was the manager giving us some light hearted chat which made us feel very welcome.

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

Overall – 32/40

Would I eat here again? I’ll be there and ordering the chorizo mac and cheese

Cost £18 for voucher with 4 tapas and a cocktail and £14 for voucher with 4 tapas and a prosecco.

Cafe Andaluz

Cafe Andaluz (George IV Bridge)

19th January 2018 5.30pm

www.cafeandaluz.com/restaurants/edinburgh-old-town

We reviewed the George Street branch of Café Andaluz back in 2016 but thought we’d give the new branch in Old Town a whirl. Situated on George IV Bridge, the restaurant has views over to the Castle – but it was night and we weren’t near a window, so we appreciated the beautifully tiled décor instead. There is also a giant bull statue at the front of the restaurant that is pretty impressive. Café Andaluz has a number of offers and we availed ourselves of the three tapas and a dessert from £16.95 per person (some supplements for a few dishes can make it slightly more expensive). I picked patatas bravas, ensalada Andaluza and the calamares. My friend chose the chorizo al vino, carne de res picante and vieiras con serrano. Without appreciating how quickly this would all come out, we also ordered some bread with oil and some olives. We also got a couple of frozen margaritas to get the weekend started.

We made a start on the bread and olives but within about 10 minutes, all our plates came out together. The smells emanating from the dishes were saliva-inducing. There was no weak plate amongst them but the highlights were the carne de res picante and vieiras con serrano. The carne de res picante was a bed of rocket with manchego and chorizo oil that had strips of steak on top. The vieiras con Serrano were beautiful scallops with Serrano ham which sat on a bed of creamed leeks. All of the dishes are easily shared but they taste so good you may not want to. Keep that in mind and make strategic choices when ordering!

Cafe Andaluz

Cafe Andaluz

We’d polished off our cocktails, which were excellent. We decided to order a couple more drinks and find a way to squeeze in desserts. I chose the churros and my friend chose trifle. I have to say that the churros were excellent with a beautiful crispy exterior, sugared to perfection, and the chocolate dipping sauce was delicious. The trifle was also enjoyed.

This branch is just as good as the one on George Street and is a good alternative if you are in Old Town.

Food – 9/10
Service – 8/10
Atmosphere- 8/10
Value – 8.5/10

Overall – 33.5/40

Would I eat here again? Yes

Cost £72 for two of the three tapas and a dessert deals plus bread, olives and four cocktails.

Cafe Andaluz

Café Andaluz

7th August 2016 12noon

www.cafeandaluz.com

This was an unplanned visit but Café Andaluz is a regular, reliable haunt for many an Edinburger. We opted for the Sunday deal of three tapas plus a dessert for £15.95. You get a slightly smaller menu to choose from but still plenty to  whet your appetite. I went for the Ensalada Andaluza (a firm favourite of mine), calamari and lightly dusted cod fillet pieces. My dining partner went for patatas bravas, chorizo and black pudding and paella valenciana.

Whilst the dishes can come out as and when, ours all came together. My calamari was really generous in size and not rubbery in the slightest. The chorizo mayonnaise was lovely and worked really well alongside the calamari. I enjoyed every mouthful. The salad was absolutely delicious. A nice mix of asparagus tips, artichokes and sun blushed tomatoes with a divine sweet hinamin dressing. The cod was also lovely and moist. I did squeeze too much of the accompanying lemon over the pieces which meant the coating went a bit soggy but it didn’t spoil the flavour. A touch of paprika in the coating gave it more depth.

On the other side of the table, the chorizo and black pudding was the hit of her three dishes. So much so she said she could eat a massive bowl of it just with some bread. It certainly looked like a very satisfying dish. The pastas bravas also went down well, with plenty of potato. As for the paella, it disappeared very quickly. I particularly had food envy over that dish.

Crema Catalana - Cafe Andaluz

Crema Catalana – Cafe Andaluz

We both opted for Crema Catalana for dessert and boy was it worth it. A generous portioned dessert but beautifully crafted. The sugar top crunched perfectly and the underneath was smooth and creamy. I devoured the whole lot, although my friend struggled to finish hers but I had lighter tapas dishes.

Café Andaluz was a strong, reliable restaurant where you will find something to please.

Food – 9/10
Service – 8/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Value – 8.5/10

Overall 33.5/40

Would I eat here again? Of course.

Cost £36 for three tapas each, two desserts and two soft drinks

 

Olives - Serrano Manchego

Serrano Manchego

4th August 2015 5.30pm

https://serranomanchego.co.uk/

We nipped in here for an impromptu dinner between Fringe shows. Serving a decent sized selection of tapas, we scoured the menu. I thought I’d opt for 3 dishes; manzanilla olives, jamon serrano reserva and garlic mushrooms in a gazpacho sauce. My dining partner went for patatas bravas and deep fried anchovies (she intended to keep room for churros).

Olives - Serrano Manchego

Olives – Serrano Manchego

As with tapas, the dishes come as and when they are ready. The olives came out first. They had a smattering of rosemary over them. The olives were incredibly flavoursome and I scoffed the lot. It was a shame they weren’t pitted but that is a personal preference. The anchovies and patatas bravas arrived next. The patatas bravas seemed a little more like chip ends, which was a bit of a shame as they looked lovely. The anchovies were OK. My friend felt that the aioli that came with them wasn’t that special. My mushrooms then arrived. They were OK but the gazpacho was more like a standard tomato sauce. It was then that it dawned on me that my jamon order must not have been taken (which was odd as it was the middle item I ordered). However, I decided not to chase and share the churros instead.

We liked the look of the churros when they arrived, although a touch pale. They had good crunch and flavour but the chocolate sauce was a bit too runny to dip properly. It didn’t stop us munching through the lot though.

Churros - Serrano Manchego

Churros – Serrano Manchego

Serrano Manchego had a few nice points but mainly I felt a little disappointed.

Food – 7.5/10
Service – 7/10
Atmosphere  – 7.5/10
Value – 8/10

Overall – 30/40

Would I eat here again? Unlikely.

Cost £25 4 tapas, one churros, a beer and a Diet Coke

Serrano Manchego Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tapa

24th May 2016 6pm

www.tapaedinburgh.co.uk

Tapa

Tapa

We had got ourselves a £25 voucher for Tapa in Leith so we went to check it out. Tapa is a cute place, it’s décor is perfect for tapas dining, understated but somehow with plenty of Spanish flair. We both loved the vibe of the restaurant. Early doors we were warned that the servings were bigger than traditional Spanish tapas and to make sure you factor this in before ordering. These were wise words and do heed them. It’s good as it encourages a decrease in food waste.

So, there are options for nibbles whilst you wait for your main tapas dishes to come through, so we opted for bread, Jamón Ibérico de Bellota and Queso Manchego to munch on whilst we waited. As you’ll be able to see from my photo, there is no getting away from it – the bread rolls did look like boobs. However, they tasted great and the three dips – olive oil with balsamic vinegar, pesto Manchego and a beetroot dip – were all delicious. The manchego worked quite well as an alternative to parmesan in the pesto. The manchego slices had great flavour and the jamon, depth and maturity. The cheese and ham came with mini bread sticks which were good for texture.

Most of the tapas dishes came out close together (although we chased the ribs). First we tucked into the Morcilla De Burgos. For those of you who don’t know, morcilla is like a Spanish version of black pudding. Quails eggs were placed on top of the tower of morcilla. This was all nice enough but I’m  not sure it was massively successful as a dish. Perhaps the quails egg wasn’t able to provide enough yolk for the amount of morcilla. That being said, this was the only one slightly unsure note of the dinner. The patatas bravas, unsurprisingly, were delicious. They started off sweet and smokey then the subtle heat developed as you continued.  Punitillitas (crispy fried squid) were fab and plentiful bite sized joys.

The ceviche of seabass was the winner for me. The fish had a beautiful citrus zing and was vivid with mango, pomegranate and chilli. It was both fresh and delightful. Finally we had the costillas (baby back ribs). There were masses of these. They were of great quality though with lots of meat on them. The glaze was also delicious. We couldn’t  quite finish them all but we gave it a good try.

We did find that it could take a bit of time getting the waiter’s attention but it was worth it for some tasty food.

Food – 8.5/10
Service – 7.5/10
Atmosphere – 8.5/10
Value – 8.5/10

Overall – 33/40

Would I eat here again? Yes

Cost £55 for tapas plus 1 beer and a Malibu and Coke

Tapa Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mother India

13th March 2016 1pm

http://motherindia.co.uk/index.php/dine-with-mother-india/mother-india-s-cafe/mother-india-s-cafe-edinburgh

Mother India started out in Glasgow but has a successful offering here in Edinburgh. This restaurant serves Indian tapas. I have been here plenty of times and sometimes I have experienced mildly chaotic service but didn’t experience that today. After a poppadom each with mango chutney, we all ordered two dishes each plus breads. The menu recommends 3-4 dishes between 2 people and this really is enough. We ordered a mix of dishes including butter chicken, chilli king prawns, chilli chicken, lamb karahi and aubergine fritters (the latter two I had). The majority of us went for garlic pittas and one went for peshwari.

As tapas, dishes come out when they are ready but they all came out pretty much as the same time which suited us fine. My lamb karahi was delicious and had good flavour. The lamb wasn’t tough either. The aubergine fritters were tasty, with some kind of accompanying sauce which was delicious. The garlic pitta was generously plied with garlic, so I was in my element. One of my friends commented that a pitta (flattened out in the shape of a naan) was a less stodgy and heavy alternative to a naan, which was perfect for a lunch. Everyone seemed to enjoy their dishes and it was agreed that they couldn’t have eaten any more.

This was a pleasant meal. It is nice enough here but is possibly missing a wow factor. A solid offering though.

Food – 7.5/10
Service- 7.5/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Value – 7.5/10

Overall 29/40

Would I eat here again? Probably but I’m in no hurry

Cost £65 for 8 tapas dishes, 4 pittas, 4 poppadoms and mango chutney, two halves of Kingfisher and a Diet Coke.

Mother India's Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato