Campbell Mickel’s Merienda – which means snack in Spanish – opened in the Stockbridge area of the city in September last year, and aims to bring together Mediterranean flavour with the “very best of Scottish produce”.
The experienced chef’s first restaurant venture offers more than 30 different dishes allowing diners to mix, choose and create their own tasting menu in a relaxed casual fine dining setting.
He said: “I would hope that people describe every plate that comes out of the kitchen as works of art. The colours and textures of each dish are designed to be rich and vibrant to encourage everyone to taste with their eyes first. My wife Giselle jokes that we aren’t just cooks but artists too.”
With only 20 covers, the intimate dining space provides what Mickel calls an ambient interior that focuses on fine dining without the need for “linen and formal attire”.
The wine list, which currently features nine options (soon to be 18) sold by the glass, is supplied by Dunfermline-based specialists L’Art du Vin and curated to complement every dish on the menu.
The restaurateur explained that he will only work with small artisan producers from across Scotland such as Campsie Glen Smokehouse and East Coast Cured, with dishes on the menu featuring the likes of Harris Crab, Highland Venison, Dornoch Salmon and Smoked Mull cheddar.
He added that he is constantly on the look out for new producers and that he wants to be able to give them a platform to showcase their wares.
Mickel said that the small plate dining allows his guests to experience a “plethora of exquisitely cooked and presented little plates” that will change every time they visit. He added: “Our diners can eat healthier, seasonal, fresher dishes with less volume and assured provenance and stunning flavours.
“The menu contains 30 to 35 small plates, and changes monthly. It is the place where you can build your own tasting menu, experience a great variety of Scottish produce, flavours, colours and textures of seasonal ingredients in every dish served, all beautifully presented in our lovely little restaurant.”
Mickel, who also owns a private corporate dining company called Exec Chef Cuisine, added that generally their clients do not want to eat big plates of food, that instead they want to “eat light”, with a “wider range of interesting flavours”.
He said: “Our diners won’t be dictated to on how many small plates they eat.
"Instead, we appreciate that clients will use our menu as a sharing menu so they can experience more flavour and more delights.
"If they really like something, they can order more of it. They make the rules, not us.”
Mickel started looking for a venue for his next venture last year, settling on 30 North West Circus Place, which he described as the “ideal place” for the casual dining venue he had in mind.
He said: “It is a fantastic location. Stockbridge just gets better and better and the location is perfect.”
Mickel is joined in the kitchen by Robbie Probert, who had previously worked with him at Exec Chef Cuisine. A Scot who grew up in France, Probert has trained in several Michelin star restaurants in France, and previously worked at 21212 before joining Merienda.
The veteran chef describes the pair’s relationship as “the old school and the new”, with his knowledge and experience “blending well” with Probert’s enthusiasm and vigour.