Scotsman Review
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  • Ambience - It's important that a restaurant is inviting. We rate the decor, comfort and atmosphere.
  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
  • Food - We judge dishes on flavour, but also use of produce, cooking skill and presentation
  • Service - The staff and pace of a meal can make or break a meal out.
  • Value - From the food on the plate to service and surroundings, we check that you get what you're paying for.
September 30, 2023

Mowgli, Edinburgh, restaurant review - it's worth the effort to get a table at Nisha Katona's Hanover Street branch

This Indian restaurant chain has opened in a former bank building

To quote the orangutan King Louie in Disney’s Jungle Book, “I’m the king of the swingers”.

That can be literal at the Indian restaurant, Mowgli, which is relatively new to Edinburgh, though Glasgow has had once since 2022.

You’ll already know this if you’ve visited any of their other 18 UK branches, where there are similar features, but about a third of the seats are strung to the ceiling by rope.

I was giggly when a member of staff led me to one of these, instead of the normal boring four-legged perches where all the proper grown-ups sit.

They must have sensed that I was an elderly youth. If they’d had a roundabout, I would’ve wanted to have my dinner on that. The same for a see-saw. No to the flying fox or slide, because that could get messy, especially if there was gravy involved.

Sadly, there is not enough room to achieve momentum on these swings.

You can only gently rock, as I did, as I checked out the listed building and former bank, with its domed ceiling that makes it feel like a giant terrarium filled with fairy lights and a tree. This is about as charming as a big brand can get. I bet it’s lovely once it's dark outside.

Mowgli’s CEO is former child protection barrister, chef and author, Nisha Katona.

I interviewed her a while ago, and she seemed like a thoroughly good egg.

So, if chain restaurants can be divided into good and bad, this is probably the former.

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They donate cash to their ‘house charity’, CHAS (Children’s Hospices Across Scotland), have been voted one of the top big companies to work for in the UK and it’s dog-friendly. 

I’ve been struggling to get a table here for a while. Although it opened relatively quietly and has an unobtrusive presence on the street, it’s always completely booked out.

The three of us snuck in for an early weekday dinner, and ordered a bunch of stuff to share.

Mowgli Edinburgh

They arrived in a stack of tiffin tins, which all looked deceptively small. Thankfully, there was more than enough to go round. Our panic was premature.

Their green ginger and rhubarb dahl (£5.50), which is one of their many low carbon footprint menu items, was a surprise - so complex, and those green mung lentils are satisfyingly meaty. I know Dishoom – another chain, except on St Andrew Square –  has a cult-like fan club for its house black dahl, but this is up there too, except it’s fruitier and you could eat a gallon of it.

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We mopped every single lentil up using a pair of small roti (£4).

Since I’m a fan of jammy meat, I monopolised the Mowgli sticky chicken (£8.50). It consisted of slightly chewy ‘chicken poppers’ in a gluten-free chickpea batter with a slick of spiced molasses that had crunchy yellow sev stuck to it.

The sugar in that dish, along with the booze in the Sweet Delhi Heights (£8.50) cocktail, with gin, raspberries, green chartreuse, ginger, lemon, passionfruit and apple juice, were making me want to swing faster. “Push me,” I asked my husband, and he pretended not to hear, as he sipped his ginger beer (£2.50) and tried to look debonair.

“Why can’t we sit on a normal seat?” he said. I’m not budging.

We all enjoyed the rich Goan fish curry (£9.25), which featured chunks of white fish in a balmy coconut sauce, with tamarind, ginger, coriander and Kashmiri red chillies.

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There was also a simple and comforting butter chicken (£9.50) that was relatively light, with yoghurt and a tomatoey sauce.

Perhaps it’s just our excellent ordering skills, but each dish had a distinct personality, so none were neglected. We also shared their steamed basmati rice (£3.95) between three, though you might need another portion to keep that many people going. Since we were eating so early, we could manage to survive on less (though we had another little dinner later).

We also skipped pudding, though it turns out that they do have gulab jamun (£7), home-made ice-cream cones (£4.50) and a chocolate brownie (£7) to choose from, should you be so inclined.

As fast as chains go, this is a more than decent one.

And I’m not just saying that because I got to have my dinner on a swing.

Mowgli Street Food, Hanover Street, Edinburgh, UK
Mowgli Street Food, Hanover Street, Edinburgh, UK, EH2 2EN
0131 560 2510
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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