28th November 2018 6pm
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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