I’m on the mailing list for Edinburgh’s Quartermile area. Once in a while, I’ll get an e-mail about the latest property to hit the market. The most recent: a two-bedroom flat for £490k. Ha ha. Delete.
8 Lister Square,
Dinner for two, excluding drinks
This development is a posh kid ghetto, with modern towers that corral the remains of the tattered Royal Infirmary building, which must be as packed with ghosts as there are shadowy reflections on the glass fronts of the contemporary flats.
Enzo is on Lister Square (presumably named after Sir Joseph Lister, the pioneer of antiseptic surgery, rather than the Red Dwarf character) in the quiet epicentre, alongside Malaysian eatery Nanyang.
On Twitter, they excitedly launched the name, letter by letter, a couple of months before it opened.
But then, branding is all about hype, and this place is owned by a rather corporate-looking collective of people with lots of bar, hotel and restaurant experience.
Inside, it’s sort-of spa-like, with impossibly gorgeous staff that made us feel like a pair of uglies (mind you, there are, strangely, no mirrors in the toilets, so you don’t have to look upon your own decrepitude or spinachy teeth at any point).
Downstairs for drinks, upstairs for Italian food.
We’d booked our table online for 7:30pm, and it said they’d need it back for 9pm. It was, however, dead quiet, so we ignored their hustle.
My antipasti – brandade of potatoes and salty cod (£6), served on a slate – was a bit iffy. The rather bland mixture, topped with blobs of cuckoo spit (oh, I mean, “garlic air”) was wet and chewy, so eating it was a bit like sucking on a soggy flannel. Two shards of garlicky bread came in lieu of the croutons.
The Tropea onion tarte tatin (£7) was the proper treat. It consisted of a gloopy pool of Parmesan fondue, a disc of puff pastry, half a slightly undercooked red onion and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. Gooey, crunchy, sweet and salty, we like.
Post antipasti, and there is a selection of Primi Piatti pasta dishes. The 30-yolk tagliolini (£12) was a dreamy and neat little whorled nest of fine yellow pasta strands in a sweet ragu of beef and sausage, topped with Parmesan flakes.
Not so much that you couldn’t have space for Secondi Piatti.
From the Meat sub-section, I loved my braised rabbit Ligurian style (£16), with a soft hind leg served alongside a dark and salty pool of finely chopped pancetta, red wine, onion and olive-ish jus.
Accessories: a nugget of meat wrapped in pancetta (aka rabbit in a blanket) and some bashed-up rosemary-tinged potatoes.
“That’s what I would choose if I was eating here,” said the waiter, as he slid the bowl of Tuscan fish soup (£20) on to our table.
It was the showy glam choice, with a parsley-strewn balancing act of garlicky bread, tomato segments, a red mullet fillet, silvery-skinned sea bass, whole langoustines (with serrated claw tips and antennae keeking out of the stack) burly prawns and mussels, all in a clear, spicy, sagey and stocky tomato broth.
For dessert, I asked for the almond thuile millefoglie (£7), but was presented with chocolate and hazelnut fondant (£7).
It looked good though, so I took the hit. Poor me, having to munch my way through a soft-centred chocolate sponge and a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. Sniffle. A teeteringly tall prosecco panna cotta with a moat of strawberry coulis (£7) was nice enough, though there was no detectable prosecco ingredient.
However, added bubbles or not, I like it here. It sets itself out as a style bar with a focus on food, and, apart from a few glitches, the formula works. I’m not going to be visiting every day, but I don’t imagine I’m its target audience.
That would be the other half in the glass flats, who want to eat off slate, munch vertiginous seafood, quaff cocktails and, unlike me, would instantly recognise the name Enzo as a Ferrari reference.
Still, as proven by the fact that I haven’t yet unsubscribed to Quartermile’s newsletter, one can always dream.