The problem with being a restaurant reviewer: friends put in requests.
It goes a bit like this. “I LOVE Japanese food, so if you’re ever reviewing a sushi place, let me know”. Or, “I’m really craving lasagne, so if you’re doing an Italian write-up and need a plus one, don’t forget me”.
Occasionally, they might be less direct, and just stare imploringly into the window of a fancy looking eatery while you’re both passing by, then sigh and point at their stomach. Yadda yadda, I usually file these requests to the Least Important stack that is the messy inbox of my brain.
But then I noticed this place had sprung up, just hours after a pal had told me how much she likes eating healthily, and I thought I could matchmake them.
The spiel at Eden’s Kitchen is that they serve Mediterranean cuisine, 90 per cent of the produce they use is organic, and they aim to use healthy, seasonal and locally sourced ingredients.
I texted my buddy. Much excitement. Friend brownie points. Then I had a look at the menu online, and felt confused.
"There are Turkish, Italian and Greek bits amongst the mass feast"
There are Turkish, Italian and Greek bits amongst the mass feast, which includes 11 cold starters/mezze, 10 hot ones, 18 varieties of pizza, six pastas, four burgers, one steak, four salads, nine mains and five puddings. Yet the premises appears to have just a tiny kitchen.
There isn’t a lot of detail on the menu either, so we’re not informed about where the locally sourced organic anything comes from. Still, the interior is rather lovely, with lots of bare wood, high ceilings and bright orange vases on tables. The pretty surroundings distracted us from their ear-bothering playlist, which ranged from Whitney’s I Will Always Love You, to an instrumental cover of Don’t Worry, Be Happy.
Our three starters included the four pleasantly cheesy and crispy ended, though very oily, filo fingers that are spinach and feta borek (£4.50). I hadn’t been that keen on my buddy’s fibrous sounding choice of bulgur balls (£6.50), but these two rugby ball shaped creations were surprisingly good, with a herbal lamb mince tightly packed into its wheaty cocoon. These came with a garlicky and wet chunky tomato relish.
The Lebanese aubergine tarator (£5.90) contained roughly pulped eggplant (not smoky tasting, as billed) with additional ingredients including yogurt and tahini, lemon, garlic and olive oil. It could’ve been punchier, but was a nice enough foil to the billowy and crispy sea salted pizza bread that we’d been given, gratis.
Onto mains, and the Turkish hunkar (£13.50) wasn’t a hunka hunka burning love, but something homelier. It featured a glutinous pillow of pasty squished aubergine topped with soft shredded lamb and punctuated by bits of red pepper and chilli. There was also a pile of tomatoey short grained rice.
My friend seemed happy enough, but soon felt stumped by the filling floury-ness of the aubergine goo.
Unfortunately, my main course of grilled salmon with pomegranate molasses (£10.90) was a bit of a nonevent. The fish was rather dry, with a dribbling of sweet and acidic, though rather watery and unexciting, pan jus. It was scattered with a few pomegranate seeds and, on the side, there were some orange ovals of unseasoned sweet potato. Yawn.
Pudding was generic. The chocolate mousse (£4.95) turned out to be a disc of sponge topped with a dense sweet whipped cocoa and, on top, were those shavings that look as if you’ve sharpened your chocolate pencil. A huge portion of orangey crème brûlée (£5.50) was forgettable, and also a bit incongruous on this menu.
So, yeah, I’m a bit done with special requests from friends.
“I think I prefer Korean food anyway. Maybe next time you do a review…..” Yadda, yadda.
32c Broughton Street, Edinburgh
Lunch for two, excluding drinks £51.75