A Greek pal told me about this place.
When I say told, I mean Demanded That I Visit. It’s the best restaurant in Edinburgh, he said.
I obediently added it to my list, then, when we eventually bagged a table on a Sunday afternoon, he – uncannily – appeared and sidled up beside my dining partner; “I’ll order for you, you’re having the vuono,” he said.
Luckily, a distraction was provided by the waiter, who escorted my bossy buddy to a newly available table on the other side of this small and steamy-windowed cafe-like space, in the former premises of My Big Fat Greek Kitchen.
Phew, as my other half wasn’t in the mood for the suggested Man vs Food meat fest, £35, which is named after a mountain in Santorini and consists of two souvlaki skewers, two pork bellies, a pair of sausages, two chicken thighs, four mpifteki (a feta stuffed burger), pita bread and chips.
Still, though we managed to dodge the challenge, I’m pretty sure that my friend went on to blow my cover.
The clue? We were very flattered by how impressed the waiter was with our ordering skills.
“Just like you’re Greek!”, “Amazing choice!”.
Mind you, it did seem that everyone else here (almost all young and Greek) were just in for coffee and casual brunchy stuff.
Meze dishes came as they were ready, so we started with a large dish of the fava santorinis (£4.90).
This salty, thick and yellow split pea purée was topped with a handful of capers, caramelised red onions and a good slosh of olive oil.
We scooped up the smooth emulsion with our spatulas of oregano-sprinkled pita bread (£3), which featured quilt-like grooves.
Next was the bougiourdi (£5.50) – a ceramic bowl full of oven baked feta, with chilli flakes, oregano and shreds of tomato.
Our waiter mashed it with a fork, for an effect like wellies sinking into marshland, with rivulets of golden olive oil rising to the surface.
Another lovely scoopable mush was the melitzana (£6.50), covered in a drift of parsley, with the decapitated stub of the aubergine at one end of the dish.
The rest of its pulpy body was mashed up, infused with garlic, and sprinkled with yet more feral feta.
The courgette fritters (£6.50) or kolokithokeftedes option consisted of five soft and smooth palm-sized pucks of minty puréed veg, with crispy, bark-coloured outers, dried herbs on the top and a paprika-sprinkled yogurt dip on the side.
Yes there’s a nymph of the same name in Greek mythology, but the only Daphne I can picture was in Scooby Doo and I’m sure her buddy Shaggy would say “zoinks!” to the keftedes tis giagias Daphne’s (£6.90) or beef and pork meatballs.
As our only meat dish, this set of five patties was texturally light and airy, like ping-pong balls rather than snooker ones, and came with another of those yogurt dips.
We also had a helping of their hand-cut (quite freeform, in case you doubt the description) oregano-topped chips (£4), so were soon flagging, even though the waiter had promised us a free aperitif if we managed to scoff everything (he definitely knew what I was up to).
No chance, but despite our fail, he still presented us with shot glasses of super sweet mahika and two icing sugar dusted cubes of gummy pink loukoumi.
For the sake of the review, we ate these, briefly paused, then ordered a dessert of ekmek kataifi (£4.50).
This thick wad of sweetness featured a base of syrupy phyllo, a thick layer of mahika injected custard, cream and a handful of crumbled pistachio nuts.
The waiter took our empty plate, with a joyous hand on heart gesture when we said we’d enjoyed it.
It’s funny how food that’s evolved in a hot country is perfect for satisfying the comfort food cravings of a cold December.
Thanks to my Greek buddy for recommending this place, though we’ll probably never be tough enough for the vuono.