“Remember to post your review on TripAdvisor,” said a waiter, on our recent visit to this new Indian eatery.
Ah, yes, TripAdvisor – the Top of the Pops of restaurant review sites. There’s always a desperate race to the number one spot (at the time of going to press, Vinyasa is at number 149 of 1,272 listed restaurants in Edinburgh, courtesy of 25 reviews), even if that relies on your own mum buying up all the vinyl and fans that are tone deaf.
Anyway, I can do better than that, I thought. I shall pen a review under my own moniker, rather than a made up one like fattyarbuckle75, then the eggheads at The Scotsman will check my spelling, paying special attention to tricky words like “grate” or “delishoss”.
My aloo chop (£4.50) vegetarian starter was like two fat fish cakes without any trace of Nemo. Instead, these voluminous patties were constructed from mashed potato, onion and coriander leaves, clad in Paxo-like breadcrumbs and fried. A little bland, yes, but easily jazzed up with pots of yoghurt and a chilli-spiked chutney.
A portion of murgh chat (£5.95) featured a mound of diced chicken in a mild, ozone-fresh and tomatoey goo, with some addictively chewy pieces of bubble-surfaced puri on the side, as well as a more-interesting-than-iceberg salad of rocket, spinach and cucumber.
Macchi kebab (£4.95) was billed as featuring a “variety of fish kebabs” but, in reality, contained only one species – our ubiquitous pink buddy, the salmon. But that was okay, as there was loads of it, and the robustness of this meat worked well with the tamarindy sauce that had been slicked over its outskirts.
Everything so far had been very mild, in terms of kick. And it was the same when it came to main courses. They were people pleasers, designed not to frighten off sensitive tastebuds.
The bonaly sabzi bahar (£7.95) was billed as medium, but the pale and fragrant yellow sauce was as mild as milk. As far as ingredients go, this garlicky, mustard and fennel seed-dotted vegetarian dish was packed with nibs of cauliflower, green beans, onions, peppers, chickpeas, courgette and mushrooms.
My pillarbox-red and almondy makhani murgh (£9.95) was kind of like a chicken-riddled pudding, in that it was so sweet.
I’d chosen this dish as I’m a bit of a sucker for the billed mango chutney and lime content, but it needed more of the latter to take the edge off the sugaryness. Think of it as the tablet of curries. I kind of liked it.
One of my dining partners, Claire, is the queen of rogan josh. She’s eaten this dish endlessly, in many restaurants. Her verdict on Vinyasa’s lamb version of this gingery dish (£10.45) was that it was mellower and sweeter than others she’s tried, but also more vibrant and multi-layered, with lots of soft meat, red peppers and cinnamony spices.
As far as trimmings are concerned, we had two portions of rice (£2.95), which was just enough between three.
Desserts are kind of lame here. There are no lassis, kulfi or gulab jamun. Instead, it’s that laminated menu of funny frozen oddities, which was popular back in the 1980s. Alongside Pineapple Delight (£3.50), this one featured lobotomised plastic effigies of Looney Tunes (£3.50) cartoon characters’ heads, including one of Tweety Pie, each of which is stuffed with ice-cream.
“Oh pleeeasse,” said my dining partners. “No. I want doesn’t get, and I’m sick of this whining,” I replied, vowing to cut their pocket money.
Up until the pudding incident, we’d had a pretty good meal. Despite the smart and contemporary feel of the space, the food isn’t particularly ground-breaking, but it’s good value, hearty and, as befits a family business like this, served with enthusiasm.
“Fabulus,” as they’d say on TripAdvisor.
Vinyasa, 34 St Mary’s Street, Edinburgh (0131-556 6776, www.vinyasaedinburgh.co.uk)
How much? Lunch for three, excluding drinks, £49.65