SLOTH. That’s my only excuse for taking so long to visit this Indian restaurant – which opened last summer.
When it’s chilly outside, and you live at the other end of the capital, it can feel as if you have to cross two time zones to get to the bottom of Leith.
That’s my defence anyway. And the fact that there’s quite a lot of good stuff on the telly. I wish I’d gone sooner.
This eatery, which, apparently, aspires to Michelin-starred status (don’t they all?), is very swish. Although there’s a regular arrangement of tables at the end of the space, we were seated in one of the private booths, which are overhung with glossy Tom Dixon pendant lights.
The owner, Islam Mohammed, proprietor of Khushi’s restaurants in Edinburgh and Dunfermline, must have really splashed out on the decor. Even the toilets are clad with more marble than all six of The Three Graces’ buttocks.
Mithas recommend their 12–piece tasting menu (£34.95 per person), but we thought we’d sample the regular à la carte.
Pre-starter, we were presented with an amuse bouche of tomato soup. Served in dollhouse crockery-sized teacups, this had an adenoid warming hit of black pepper, cinnamon and a sour tinge of tamarind.
Then along came my sigri grouper (£6.95), which consisted of two piscine lollipops, each of which held a couple of large blobs of soft fish. This sweet white meat was as soft as marshmallow, with a toasty and umami peanut marinade on its surface. Wow.
We also loved the fresh spinach and fig tikki (£5.95). This was three earthy patties, each of which was dotted with red chilli and heat-tempering nibs of soft fig.
In comparison to what had come before, the mains were slightly disappointing.
Our Peshwari lamb karahi (£10.95) was pretty forgettable. It was homely enough, with a tomato and onion sauce, but it was a bit of a one-note wonder when it came to flavour. Still, the meaty nuggets were reasonably flavoursome.
Tandoori duck (£18.95) was better. This featured a blackened drumstick and breast, both of which had been saturated with the smoky taste of the tandoor, as well as a fragrant combination of garlic, ginger and cardamom.
It was an intense protein fest but one that benefited from an accompanying portion of pilau rice (£2.95) and some moisturising pomegranate raita (£2.95), which was dotted with delicate, pearl-like garam masala dumplings.
We also tried some of their special Mithas naan (£2.95), with a variety that changes daily. It was sundried tomato and coriander on our visit. The bread was bubbly and crisp, but the flavours a little pizza-esque for me. However, my dining partner was won over by the combo.
Puddings here have a vaguely Indian slant, in their choice of spices. For example, the warm chocolate mousse (£6.95) – a steamy and satisfyingly gooey cocoa fondant, served in a little black cup – was teamed with a scoop of ginger ice-cream, drizzled with a zesty orangey syrup. Good.
Unfortunately, our passion fruit tart (£6.95) had a pastry case that was the texture of an elderly Hob Nob, but its pale contents were fruity. On the side, was a sticky, tamarind syrup-glazed strawberry, plus a tower with three levels: on the bottom deck, a honey-spiked sesame tuile, topped with a creamy white chocolate parfait, and then a cumin seed-flecked biscuit.
I like it here. Not just for the decent grub, but also because there’s a sense of occasion, what with the smart decor and five-star service. A visit is well worth the bus lag.
7 Dock Place, Edinburgh (0131-554 0008, www.mithas.co.uk)
Dinner for two, excluding drinks, £65.55
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THREE OTHERS TO TRY
109-113 Candleriggs, Glasgow (0141-552 2777, www.koolba.com)
This cosy eatery, which serves Indian food with a Persian twist, has a lunchtime or pre-theatre menu for a tenner.
5 College Street, St Andrews (01334 476666, www.maisharestaurant.co.uk)
It’s worth visiting this restaurant for the crab bhuna, which features local crab that has been marinated in spices.
98 Clerk Street, Loanhead (0131-440 3566, www.theradhuni.co.uk)
This smart venue offers specialities including chicken massaman, fish jalfrezi and methi gosht.