George Street’s Café Andaluz seemed the perfect venue to catch up with a friend who’d just returned from surfing on the Costa Daurada. In an attempt to forestall her post-holiday Spanish blues we popped in for the early evening menu, offering three tapas for £14.95.
Having spent the last week rewarding herself with freshly caught fish after a tough day on the waves, my friend was going to be a hard customer to impress. However, conversation took a back seat as she tucked in to her mejillones a la marinera (mussels cooked in white wine, garlic cream and shallots). A delicious and well-balanced dish, it left me longing – all the more so as my much anticipated pollo marinado left me disappointed. The combination of paprika, lemon and coriander should be winsome, but in reality it was tasteless. Even the lacklustre chilli yogurt couldn’t save it.
Happily, conversation and taste-buds recovered on receipt of some fabulous asparagus served with shaved manchego and capers. The asparagus was tender, despite the vegetable nearing the end of its season, while the cheese and capers complimented each other perfectly. My friend’s stuffed aubergine was tasty enough. The tortilla Española was nothing to write home about, however the chorizo y butifarra negra really saved the day. The combination of succulent chorizo with black pudding in a spicy tomato sauce was delicious.
This isn’t a mind-blowing restaurant – but it doesn’t pretend to be. The décor is fun, the service attentive and the prices reasonable. The early evening menu runs until 6.30pm, so you’ve got to get in sharpish. Then again, the regular menu is varied and will hardly break the bank, while there’s a good wine selection for those venturing beyond a beer and sangria.
• Café Andaluz, 77B George Street, 0131 220 9980, www.cafeandaluz.com