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Baba, Edinburgh, restaurant review

Recover from the trials of the festive season with a visit to Baba, says Gaby Soutar

Published: December 22, 2017

I lugged two giant Num Noms Lip Gloss Trucks to this restaurant.

That’s how you roll when you have two nieces and they want a dose of plastic tat for Christmas.

It could have been Glimmies or Fingerlings, their more portable second choices.

But, no, they wanted the trucks, so we schlepped two ginormous carrier bags through the fray, ensuring that the cardboard boxes inside clipped each other’s shins every 15 minutes or so.

Thus, there were many expectations placed on this restaurant – to revive me, comfort me, stop my growling (vocally and gastrically), bring down my blood pressure, raise the blood sugar and make me forget about those cumbersome pink trucks.

First impressions were promising. The interior of this place, which is from the team behind Glasgow’s Ox & Finch, features a proper distance between tables, and nice booths that you can slide your bags along.

Also, pegs to hang your coat and scarf. How very civilised. Already I was feeling more like a Whoville citizen, rather than the Grinchy one.

Our super nice waiter talked us through the Levantine-influenced offerings.

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He recommended about five things to share – three of the larger plates and maybe a couple of the dips, or a side.

We upped that recommendation by 30 per cent, and started with the haggis and harissa kibbeh (£2.75). Kibbeh is not a crunchy biscuit you feed to your cat, it’s a sort of meatball made with bulgar wheat.

This set of four spicy haggis gobstoppers were heavenly, each with a cap of slick garlicky mayo.

The two dips came next. We’d gone for a classic baba ganoush (£5.25) – cumin speckled and smokey, with a generous handful of pomegranate seeds and mint leaves on top.

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There was also a chopped egg, radish and sesame topped butterbean version with green tahini (£4.75).

We scooped it up with halves of the accompanying puffy pitta, presented in a paper bag. Gaba Banoush (me) says thumbs up.

Our bigger dish of monkfish (£12) consisted of dill-strewn chickpeas in a deep and dark red tomato sauce, then slices of white meat, with a charring that looked like snowmobile tracks, and a crumbling of light and creamy feta on top.

Joy to the world.While, the squid dish (£9.50) consisted of a batter-kissed tentacle, and some perfectly cooked tubes.

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There was also an addition of red peppery and piquant salmorejo, with its tiny cubes of fried bread, as well as halves of blistered yellow tomato, orange peppers and clods of earthy merguez sausage.

The chuck-eye steak (£12) was a decent option, with plump and pink sliced meat on a red pepper ketchup, as well as a thatch of chopped sumac-infused pickled red onions.

However, if you wanted to try just one thing, the herb topped chicken shawarma (£9.50, or £11 for lamb) is a bit of a steal, with a metal dish filled with all the lunchtime eating paraphernalia you could possibly want – charred chunks of chook, pickled red cabbage, a bolster of hummus, hot garlic tahini and pouches of pitta to stuff.

After all that, we thought we could manage one pudding – the olive oil sponge (£6), aka the antithesis to mince pies, hurrah.

It was light and fantastic, especially with a slick of sour yogurt, dates and syrup on the side.

Oh, and you must have one of the Baba signature hot drinks (£3.50), not only because they come with four pimped-up medjool dates (we had two dark chocolate covered versions with crystallised ginger and a pair topped with creamy fondant and chopped walnuts).

We ate these with the cardamom coffee from Glasgow Dear Green Coffee company, served in a French press, with a milky-ness provided by the spice.

When every dish was licked clean, there was a period of mourning for the things I hadn’t tried, especially when the waitress raved about her favourite dip (muhammara, aleppo chilli and chopped walnuts, £4).

Baba is the fairy on the top of the Christmas tree that temporarily distracts you from the Fingerlings and Glimmies at the bottom.

Go. Your blood sugar/shins will thank you.


130 George Street,  Edinburgh

(0131-527 4999,


Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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