You know your early bird dining habit is becoming a problem when you arrive at the restaurant and they haven’t opened the doors yet, so you try to muscle in through the staff entrance.
We’d booked dinner at this new Greek place for the unfashionable time of 5.30pm and got there just before that.
Not very authentic at all.
If we were in Athens, we would probably be told to come back later, when it was cooler, and to stop being babies.
Anyway, the staff at New Town restaurant, Kuzina, didn’t make us feel embarrassed.
Instead, once they’d let us in, they led their inaugural customers of the night to a huge green velvet banquette, which was shaped a bit like a shell, so my husband resembled Botticelli's Venus, though with his clothes on, mercifully.
This place, which is owned by actor Konstantinos Karvelis – who hasn’t starred in any films I’m familiar with – has a classic vibe.
There was Edith Piaf and Pavarotti playing on the sound system, and it felt old-school. I nestled in for an anticipated pampering.
They describe the menu as an “authentic taste of Greece with a modern twist”.
I’ve been doing The Scotsman’s reviews for 16 years now, but there was nothing on this food list that I’d seen before. This is much smarter than the taverna-style fare you might get elsewhere.
After delivery, each dish was introduced by their head chef, Konstantinos Sakellariou, who works under their executive chef, Dimitris Dimitriadis.
We’d gone for their take on sushi, with the starter of nigiri (£13). This was a big and burly version, with a beetroot rice plinth then a layer of leaves and smoked pork vinaigrette, all anchored by a meaty piece of smoked eel. These bites put a few extra hairs on Venus’s chest.
Out other starter was the “feta bougiourdi” (£12). It looked beautiful, like a fillet of pale fleshed and metallic-skinned fish. The mousse-y cheese had been topped by a square of edible silver, which was the size of a folded Euro banknote, then a few confit cherry tomatoes, oregano, and a neat cucumber and red chilli brunois. These came in a pool of transparent tomato water, which made this offering as refreshing and light as a huge wad of baked cheese can possibly be.
I wouldn’t normally go for the poultry option, but I’d been seduced by the sound of the pickled mustard seeds that came with Kuzina’s chicken (£19). Indeed, they were gorgeous pops of heat alongside the golden-skin-wrapped ballotine, which had been made from oregano-threaded thigh meat. There was also a potato puree, inspired by the dish riganati, with lemon and herbs, plus thyme jus, and wedges of Jersualem artichoke as well as nibbly crispy bits - as addictive as pork crackling.
It was very enjoyable alongside our bright and fresh glasses (£6.50) of Akriotou’s The Blender Brut NV, which is the first option on their list of Greek vino.
Venus had opted for a main course of octopus “pastitsio” (£26), which was a take on the comforting pasta bake. Much fancier though. There was a ragu of braised octopus with ouzo and lots of herbs, including fennel fronds, their house-made pasta pipes, and a smooth topping of butter yellow bechamel made of pulped fava beans. For a little extra glamour, this was draped with red chard, sorrel and pink pickled onions, which were the colour of the feathers in a Harry Styles fan's boa.
There were just three desserts, and we shared the huge portion of baba (£12).
Konstantinos came out of the kitchen to tell us about it and our spoons had to be pinned to the table, since they were responding to the pudding like dowsing sticks to water.
Apparently, the bread-y base is the panetonne-ish tsoureki, which was flecked with orange zest, then there was a chocolatey piped-on layer of chocolate-y cream and cocoa crisp discs. On the side, was a tropical sorbet, which tasted mainly of intense sunshine-y mango, to give you the summer equivalent of the winter Ready Brek glow.
By the time we left, there were two other tables, but I think it deserves to be much busier here, if only because it’s so unique.
Don’t be TOO keen though.
Dinner is served from 5.30pm.
18 Howe Street
(0131 226 1573, www.kuzina.co.uk)