SLIDER. I’ll admit it, until recently, I didn’t know what one of these was. I would have guessed it was one of those lumpy, toad-faced fish that slither along the ocean floor.
Wrong. It’s a US-style mini burger.
And, over the last year or so, more eateries are serving this sort of dish as a speciality, along with other rib- sticking comfort foods such as steak, pizza or macaroni.
The theory goes, we’re all skint, and want our grub to give us a big bear hug then hold us until we fall asleep.
Amore Dogs seems to have gone along this route, with the Italian American-themed menu it’s been offering since last year (previous to this, it served a more authentic style of Italian food).
This formula must be working, as this three-year-old eatery, owned by David Ramsden, is buzzing, as is the rest of this restaurateur’s portfolio – The Dogs and his basement-level bar, Underdogs. Although he had perhaps spread himself slightly too thin, as the seafoody sister, Seadogs, is now sleeping with the fishies, after closing down in January.
On our visit to try Amore Dogs’ evening menu, things started swimmingly, with a rich tomato and fish ball soup (£4.55). It would’ve been nice if there’d been some bread on the side of this dish. Mind you, if I’d scoffed a slice of that fantasy loaf, I couldn’t have managed a main course.
That’s because this was a Schwarzeneggerian broth, with a juicy sweet tomato base that was studded with soft, gefilte-like balls of poached white fish, plus salmon and struts of celery. Smashing.
Beef carpaccio (£4.85) was another goodie, with around eight wafers of magenta meat, served with a bank of rocket, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, sea salt and Parmesan scratchings.
However, a single fish slider (also available as beef or pork varieties, £2.95 each) was barely the circumference of a Jammie Dodger, yet was presented on a comparatively expansive white dinner plate.
No salad, no frills, it was all alone, like a tumbleweed in the desert. I’d say this course, at a meagre three bites’ worth, is not quite as cost-efficient as some of the other options here. Still, it tasted decent, with its poppyseed-studded bun, a white fish patty and a blob of aioli.
When it came to the rustic ham hough lasagne (£8.95), I would’ve liked more of the meaty shreds, but it was a satisfying enough option, with cubes of pepper, celery and tomato, chunky pasta layers and a bubbly quilt of cheese.
In contrast, there was meat a-plenty in the seafood risotto (£10.55, also available as a small portion for £5.55), including dinky mussels, salmon flakes and squid hula-hoops, all accessorised by peas and chopped shallots. This seemed to be more like a fishy rice dish than a risotto, but it wasn’t lacking in flavour or content.
Same goes for the gnocchi (£11.95 for big, £6.45 for small). The potatoey dumplings were very soft and pasty – you could have spread them on toast. However, this didn’t really matter too much, as, in their thick, stocky and white wine spiked jus, they were a tonic. Plenty of big chunks of chicken too.
Puddings were a lottery. The pannacotta (£4.50) was a beauty – all milky pale and shivery, with a smattering of vanilla polka-dots; not too sweet, with a blob of blood-red strawberry compote.
The huge brick of creamy banoffee parfait (£4.25), which was studded with banana discs, was as electrifyingly sugary as it gets. This was only compounded by the addition of crumbled cinder toffee and a squiggle of toothpaste-textured caramel sauce. Farewell my precious pearly whites.
A crumbly tile of brownie, topped with a globe of dulce de leche-flavoured caramel ice-cream (£4.75) was fine, if a slightly dry example of its genre.
As one of the hipper restaurants in the city centre, where you can still find a main course for under a tenner, this place is pretty indispensable.
You’re also guaranteed to get a much-needed hug from most of its dishes (that fish ball soup is a definite, but the slider less so). Otherwise, expect the equivalent of a friendly arm around your shoulders.
That’s good enough for me.
104 Hanover Street, Edinburgh (0131-220 5155, www.amore dogs.co.uk)
How much? Dinner for three, excluding drinks, £57.30
Others to try
4-6 Ness Walk, Inverness (01463 237 377, www.rivarestaurant.co.uk)
Try spaghetti, smoked haddock risotto or sea bream with potato gnocchi at this Italian riverside eatery, where the two-course lunch menu is just £11.95.
70 Hyndland Street, Glasgow (0141-339 2000, www.delizique.com)
This cafe is open from 8am until midnight, with an affordable menu which features options such as Cumberland sausage sarnie with caramelised onions and wholegrain mustard.
33 Exchange Street, Aberdeen (01224 571 771, www.musaaberdeen.com)
There’s good bistro fare at this trendy music venue, gallery and restaurant, with dinner options such as harissa-marinated lamb chump with spiced couscous and vegetable Provençal.
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