1 Antigua Street, Edinburgh (0131-556 8337, www.pomegran atesrestaurant.com)
Lunch for three, excluding drinks, £63
Until I realised the potential for ridicule: smoking alfresco at the top of Leith Walk, pretending I was exotic amongst the limpy, gammy-footed pigeons, with rivulets of acid rain trickling down my face.
I went inside to inhale some food instead.
This place, on a corner opposite the Playhouse, has decor that’s reminiscent of a Cadbury’s Roses box – aqua and bright pink, a combo that’s set off by crackled glass lamps the colour of Quality Street wrappers.
It’s owned by the team behind Middle Eastern and Kurdish restaurant, Hanam’s, on Edinburgh’s Johnston Terrace. The food is similar – options like qozy lamb and shawarma make an appearance at both venues – but there’s more of a focus on mezze at Pomegranate, with mini dishes from the likes of Lebanon and Morocco.
Which is, of course, dangerous, as it’s easy to go bonkers when ordering mezze. Naturally, the three of us did.
Soon, you couldn’t see our green PVC tablecloth, as it was covered in terracotta pots, each of which contained either cold (£4 each), hot (£6 each) or vegetarian mezze (£5 each).
It was a 50-shades-of-delicious feast of forest-coloured foods – mossy greens, earthy browns, coppers and maroons.
That is, apart from the cold stuff, such as pale jajic – a fresh yoghurty dip, with chopped cucumber. And, of course, baba ganoush, which wasn’t as smoky as I like but, still, lemony and thick as plaster, with a dusting of blood-red paprika on the top. Fab.
All the hot meaty offerings were as good as I’d wanted them to be.
I don’t really do light lunches, but the hummus shawarma, with a large helping of garlicky and rich hummus, topped with shavings of lamb and salty olives, would be perfect for that kind of meal (nan bread, £2, on the side, and you’d be sorted).
The discs of soujuk, or Lebanese sausage, were cuminy, with a chilli kick, and came in a pot of sweet tomato stew. Iraqi dish kubba halab featured two fig-shaped pods of butter-coloured crushed and moulded rice, each of which housed a sweet mixture of minced lamb, lentils and raisins.
Baly merishke was a burnished and fragrant lemon-scented trio of poultry wings (though, as a nibbly portion, this dish was less of a bargain than the other hot mezze).
Our vegetarian dolmas were woodlandy and ultra savoury, with a wet rice filling packed into a pair of vine leaf parcels. The perfect option for a blue caterpillar. I riddled lots of little holes into those leaves.
We also shared one of the main courses on the menu – chicken koobideh (£13.50) – or Iranian chicken kebab. It consisted of tightly packed balls of smooth minced poultry, threaded onto wooden sticks and was served on a rectangular platter of nan bread. The meat, gently flavoured with earthy turmeric and chilli, was as fluffily soft and light as cotton wool. After the savouries, we stacked up our plates, and waited (and waited), before eventually procuring a dessert menu from another table (aside from one efficient woman, most of the staff seem a bit confused about what they’re here to do, and one of them was having a wonderful time staring, glaikit, at the wall behind our heads).
The puddings are magical-sounding, with options like Turkish delight cupcake (£4.50). But they were sold out of that flavour, so we had the pomegranate and raspberry version instead (£4.50). Very nice, with a vanilla-y sponge and a trowelled-on layer of fruity butter icing. A little overpriced though, as my ceiling for cupcake outlay is probably £3, even if it is served in a restaurant and comes with a scoop of ice-cream (as this did).
A helping of icing-sugar powdered lokum, or Turkish delight (£3.50), was a tooth enamel challenge, but, still, a good sugar rush with coffee, while a sundae glass full of canary yellow Persian saffron and cardamom ice-cream (£3.95) felt unashamedly luxurious, in an marabou feather trimmed mules and silky dressing gown kind of way.
Visit this place, it’s great. Just don’t inhale (unless it’s something edible).
THREE TO TRY
192 Pitt Street, Glasgow (0141-332 5300, www.allaturca.co.uk)
This Turkish eatery offers some of the finest baba ganoush in town. Or try their special – Aberdeen Angus beef shish with chestnut casserole and beetroot relish.
Rendezvous @ Nargile
106-108 Forest Avenue, Aberdeen (01224 323700, www.rendezvousat
The signature dish at this Turkish
eatery consists of layers of pita,
aubergine and lamb, topped with halep sauce.
27 Gibson Street, Glasgow (0141-334 1414, www.falafel
For cheap and cheerful Lebanese food, head to this joint. Perfect for a lunchtime shawarma, with prices around the £4 mark.