Restaurant review: El Quijote, Brougham Street, Edinburgh
THE planet made funsize. That’s Edinburgh’s Brougham Street. For such an otherwise unremarkable thoroughfare, it’s pretty cosmopolitan as far as food is concerned.
There’s a Greek restaurant, a French one, two Indians, a Chinese, Thai, an Italian bakery and, for those with less worldly tastes, a chipper and a baked potato shop. Forget a staycation this year, you may as well bin your passport permanently.
Not, though, if you’d planned to visit Bodrum, as the Turkish place at 13a has been usurped by Spanish eatery El Quijote.This newish restaurant is owned by friends Oscar Mateos and Maria Giminez, who aim to provide an authentic Spanish eating experience, sans the ubiquitous tortilla and paella.
It seats around 20, with a bar area, and rustic decor consisting of saffron walls, cartwheels, woven stuff, wooden cruet sets, terracotta bits and a pic of a beardy Don Quixote in the window.
For starters, there are olives (gordal, manzanilla, black), meats (chorizo, salchichon, serrano) and cheeses (manchego, cabrales and los balanchares), as well as cooked tapas, some of which are also available as media or racion sizes.We went for the small, when it came to the rollito de berenjena con langostino y miel (£3.25, medium £8.50, main £14).
This offering was a trio of squishy prawns, each swaddled and skewered into a golden slanket of honey and batter-coated deep-fried aubergine. Sweet and toasty – what’s not to like?
The Andalucian-style salmorejo (£3.50) – a cool and thick purée of cream, tomato, mascerated bread and oodles of garlic pulp, all topped with grated boiled egg – was a hit. This liquid tapas was studded with cubes of ruby-coloured serrano ham, and the whole shebang tasted as fresh as ozone (until the garlic snuck up on you).
Our pair of bocadio de berenjena (£3.75) was another winner: two flattened coasters of aubergine stuffed with a creamy white cheese and a salty paprika-spiced chorizo paste, battered and deep fried, for a burly taste and texture.
We punctuated the saltiness of those starters with five triangles of nutty and milky zamorano (£3.25), which came with struts of spongy foccacia.
When it came to my main – the special dish of El Quijote (£12.95) – I had been warned that it was a big portion (“to suit two people,” said our waitress) but I had forged onwards nonetheless.
Naively, it seems, as this dish was like something a bodybuilder might eat before tanning up and clambering into their neon bikini. There were endless feathery leaves of melty jamon serrano and three fat-yolked fried eggs, all dusted with finely chopped mint. Underneath this collage of protein, was a mixture of soft pepper strips, half moons of fried potato, pinkie-nail-sized chips of garlic, chopped onions and shreds of a sparky hot chorizo. Well, hello.
So, my only criticism is that this dish was rather oily. I managed to eat half, and my dining partner was pretty chivalrous about tackling the remainder.
That is, despite the fact that his main – the bacalao frito cons salsa verde (£7.95) – was also a bit greasy. Apart from that, it was great.
There were eight chubby chunks of creamily soft cod, each of which had been fried in a haze-like dusting of flour, before being drizzled with garlic, lemon and oregano-spiked salsa verde. Underneath this collection of golden fishy dollops there was a layer of thinly sliced sautéed spud.
Onward to puddings. A polea con coscorrones (£4) was a rich and butter-coloured custard, powdered with grated nutmeg and aniseed. Topped by a handful of airy croutons and a drizzle of honey, a single star anise was suspended on its glossy surface. Good.
As was the cheesecake (£4). According to the specials blackboard, ingredients included free-range eggs, crowdie, beet sugar and bitter orange sauce. Put them in a pot, shake, and, one supposes, you’d have this rather rib-sticking dessert, with a pale and unctuous topping, plus a zesty zip from the citrus addition.
What a nice place this is. And it’s all-inclusive (if you buy the food, you also get to sit in a seat and use the cutlery, plus there are no additional charges for luggage). I shall be cancelling all my Spanish holidays forthwith.
• 13a Brougham Street, Edinburgh (0131-478 2856, www.quijotetapas.co.uk)
• How much?
Dinner for two, excluding drinks, £42.65
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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