I’VE lost a lot of time. Most recently, there were four hours that slipped down the back of the sofa when I was eating Minstrels and watching brain-atrophying telly.
Osteria del Tempo Perso
208 Bruntsfield Place,
(0131-221 1777, www.osteriadel tempoperso.info)
Lunch for two, excluding drinks,
Then there’s the 109 minutes of Cameron Diaz’s latest film that I’ll never get back.
At this place, whose name translates as the lost time eatery, you’re actively encouraged to forget about carpe diem, diarising or making every minute count.
There’s a display of clocks on the walls, all set to different times.
Just chillax, go with the flow. If you’ve got an appointment to meet a friend/bank manager/boss straight after lunch, stand them up, you can always make new besties/go into liquidation/sign on.
Life is good. No worries. Set the time on your phone randomly before you go. Get into the spirit of things.
This is the Mediterranean way, and this restaurant, which is backed by the owners of the osteria of the same name in Casalvieri in Lazio, is pretty authentic.
Though it’s in the former premises of the Toni Macaroni chain, which specialises in pizza, there are no stuffed crusts to be found.
There is, however, antipasti, including a huge portion of parmigiano di melanzane (£5.50). It was like Dog the Bounty Hunter (another couple of hours lost to reality TV) when it came to hunger. My rumbles were slayed by sweet tomato sugo and layers of slippery soft aubergine.
Just as splendid were the frittura di pesce mignon (£8). I don’t know what they meant by mignon, as the flour-dusted and meaty squid hoops were the circumference of earrings that might belong to a gypsy with particularly sturdy lobes. There were also huge chunks of white fish and salmon, and fat prawns, all of which came with a buttermilk-yellow aioli dip in a Kilner jar on the side.
At this point, we were presented with a freebie glass of prosecco each, and some gratis pizze fritte. There was lots of grazie-ing.
Mains were as pedestrian as Milan’s Via della Spiga (but with fewer shopping opportunities).
The fillet of pork (£13.50) cooked in red wine, tasted rich, but was pretty tight and fibrous (I’ll just come out and say it. Dry). It came with a rather feeble assembly of school-dinner style veg – a couple of puffs of boiled broccoli and three struts of carrot, as well as two wafers of chicory leaf.
My parsley-topped fish lasagne (£9.50) was slightly floury-tasting but, apart from that, it was as comforting and rustic as my starter, with liquorice confit-sized sticks of courgette and nibs of almost minced prawn, all tucked into saffron-tinged duvets of perfect pasta. Pretty decent nosh for under a tenner.
It’s probably safe to say that desserts aren’t their forte.
The “Italian warm tart with Amaretto cream” (£5.50) was like a blistered and blackened roof tile and, sadly, there was no cream provided in order to luge the vaguely almondy ashes down our oesophagi.
The chocolate cake (£5.50) was equally dry, with an absence of the billed ice-cream. There were four cubes of bog-standard brown sponge, lined up, execution-style, in a row, with a feeble smudge or two of chocolate sauce. Maybe they haven’t geared themselves up for people who can eat pudding after a giant plateful of pasta. Meet me.
Coffee here is fantastic – our macchiato doppios (£2 each) were like anti-gravity tincture.
Still, the food.
Recently, I went for dinner with someone who, whenever they had a below par course, would say it was their own fault. Bad choice, wrong decision.
I felt a bit like that, as the menu here is pretty extensive, and I’ve heard others rave about it. Maybe they’re having a few teething problems and we ordered the duds.
If that’s the case, perhaps we should give them a bit more time and hope that, unlike me, they don’t waste it.