Studies have shown that listening to music increases diners’ food consumption.
I’m not sure if that applies to all genres.
At this eatery, the background tunes are like you’ve pressed the demo button on a Bontempi.
It’s manic instrumental muzak that veers into a Stranger Things-esque soundtrack, via an advert jingle for pogo sticks.
Along with the electro sax and jazz pipe, we heard what sounded like a Chinese stringed instrument. It made me wonder if the owners of this new place – the team behind Mumbai Mansion, Mithas (both now closed) and the new Mumbai Street Food in Leith – had inherited a CD from the former long term residents of this slot, China Town.
They also still have the glass room dividers printed with paper lanterns, and the light fitting that looks like the violet glowing undercarriage of a departing UFO. After a few weeks’ residence, this Indian restaurant has put its own stamp on the space too, by adding white linen tablecloths, fabric wallpaper and upholstered chairs, for a fine dining vibe.
Although we were heartily welcomed, we still felt we’d visited at a bad time.
It was a Sunday lunchtime, the day after the rugby, and they were recovering from a crazily busy night.
Pretty much all the seafood was sold out, and we were the only table in, apart from one other couple, who, distractingly, were judges for the upcoming Spice Awards.
Since there was no monkfish, we went for the lamb seekh kebab (£7.50) and venison boti (£8.95).
Before these arrived, there was an amuse bouche – a cupful of lentil soup with a chilli hit that dealt with any residual catarrh.
We were prepped for starters. The spiced and minced lamb dish was squishy and super savoury, with cheddar in the three fat pipes of meaty pulp. I couldn’t detect this cheese, but my dining partner has had micro detectors implanted in his brain, after being spliced with a mouse, and squeaked that he could. We also liked the rich and sweet tamarind sauce that came alongside.
Our other starter consisted of four hunks of game in a tangy and tomato-ey “honey and pineapple” marinade, with a hot chilli dip on the side. Pleasant enough.
One of our mains – the hake (£18.95) – was a speciality, but didn’t quite do it for us. Although it was billed as being “smoked in house”, it didn’t have any obvious smoky flavour and its meatiness had veered into fibrousness. Good velvety and clingy sauce though, with more of that tamarind and a medium heat.
Sprinkled with caraway and mustard seeds, the chicken koliwada (£12.95) was better, with a terracotta coloured gravy that was nutty with coconut milk, cashews and peanut, as well as a good hit of ginger.
They do a good pilau rice (£3.25) here too – fragrant with cardamom and toasted spice, and the peshwari (£3.25) and garlic naans (£2.95) were as steamy as hot flannels. I blame the sugary almond paste in mine for my high, which resulted in an air keyboard riff.
Once I’d come down a bit, we earwigged on the chat between the Spice Awards people and the waiter.
Apparently, their puddings include a spectacular passion fruit tart. Sold. Sadly, it turns out they don’t offer dessert on the weekend, so we picked up the bill and went to Cafe Noir (1 Palmerston Place), just down the road.
Their flat whites (£2.70 each) were great and a walnut brownie (£2.95) was even better, but a slice of baked vanilla cheesecake (£3.50) was pretty meh, with so much gelatine that it could double as a rubberised dog toy. We just ate the sharpest point of the isosceles and left the rest.
Anyway, as an addendum, I remembered that I’d reviewed the original Mumbai Mansion, way back in the autumn of 2015.
After a skim read, it turns out that I ate almost exactly the same dishes (though the monkfish tikka wasn’t sold out, and I DID have dessert), and awarded it a rather standard 7/10.
Three years down the line and, despite the change of venue, we’re all playing jazz sax to the same old tune.