My husband does 94 per cent of the cooking in my household.
Generally, our dinners are excellent. I try not to mark him out of ten, because it annoys him, but most are a decent seven. However, sometimes he is severely lacking in inspiration.
Recently I visited this restaurant, which had a makeover and relaunch back in the summer.
For three days before our dinner out was booked, we had cottage pie with cabbage and peas every night.
There is nothing so depressing as a mince-based meal on rotation.
Even if you’re in hospital, you get to choose something else for tea once in a while. 4/10.
I knew that the only antidote would be the South American-influenced food at this basement restaurant, where the head chef is Scott Wyse, who used to head the catering at the MTV Awards. Its refurbished sister bar, Superico Bar & Lounge at 99 Hanover Street, has also just won a Hospitality Design Award for best Bar, Club & Lounge. Both venues are managed by mixologist Mike Lynch, who’s also created the cocktail menu.
There’s nothing I wouldn’t want to try on this drinks list.
I nearly chose the Peach Negroni (£8), but went for a Pisco Punch instead (£8.50). It was a mixture of Aba Pisco, Akashi-Tai Yuzushu (made from yuzu fruit and sake), orange sherbet, pineapple sherbet and lime juice. This was a zesty and tingly spritz that purged any traces of Bisto gravy from my system. My husband had the Watermelon Sgroppino (£7.50), with Aperol, watermelon sorbet and prosecco. It was bright pink and served in a Champagne glass, with a fizzing island of sorbet. Sweet boozy juices from heaven, and we drank them alongside a disco soundtrack, which made me feel like doing the hustle.
The food is equally colourful. We’d gone for a couple of Small Plates, which are starter sized and come as they’re ready. The sea-bream tiradito, with long slices of raw fish (£9) had little jolts of intense flavour from mango cubes, blood orange tiger’s milk (made from lime, chilli and other ingredients, no tigers or their milkmaids were harmed) and herby coriander oil. There were also creamy blobs of avocado, and sprigs of cress. It woke up my palate, like the council bin lorries do to the rest of me every morning.
Another small plate - the tempura enoki mushroom (£6) was a strange-looking beast, sort of like a chunk of coral crossed with a squashed Shredded Wheat. It was made from a cluster of enoki mushrooms, deep-fried, then served with a tarragon verde and truffled pecorino. Meaty and satisfying.
We shared two Big Plates, though the best was easily the beef (£18), which featured a good fist-sized chunk of coal-coloured and gummily soft cheek, some crispy battered threads of fillet, a thick pool of smokey and nutty mole rojo, plus bitter and blistered padron peppers.
The confit chicken leg (£14) was less exciting and slightly neglected, though it was still a decent dish. There was a crispy-skinned leg, black haggis (a hybrid of black pudding and haggis) croquettes, a castle of salsa-topped sweet potato and a piquant mojo verde.
We could have probably done without the side dish of potato bravas (£5), with their roof of manchego slivers and a dollop of aioli. They had a smooth tomato sauce underneath, but it wasn’t spicy. Maybe they weren’t as bravas as they thought. These were lily-livered tatties. That’s fine, I’d rather not have my dinner squaring up to me.
There were just two sweet things for pudding. The small and fat mini cherry and chocolate eclair (£5) was back-to-front, in that the chocolate was inside, and the cream was layered onto its choux top, like an antimacassar on a mouse’s couch. The cherry element was a dried smear on the plate.
Fine, but the banana tarte tatin (£5) won. It was a cocoa-dusted, rum-laced and caramelised discus of sticky loveliness, with a fudgy textured dulce de leche ice-cream that was joy incarnate.
This is the sort of food to reawaken your jaded soul.
Sadly, after my visit, we had chilli con carne for two days running.
Thus, I held the thought of this dinner in my mind, to remember that there can be happier times.
You can survive those days of mince if there’s a Superico at the end of the tunnel.
(NB: Please don’t show this review to my husband. I know what side my bread is buttered).
83 Hanover Street
(0131 225 4862, www.superico.com)
Places to try Nearby
Superico Bar & Lounge, 99 Hanover Street, Edinburgh (0131 225 8200, www.superico.com)
This is the last weekend of Edinburgh Cocktail Week, so you have a last chance to try this bar’s limited edition cocktail for £4 (if you have an £8 wristband, see www.edinburghcocktailweek.co.uk), the Four Seasons Cobbler, which contains fino sherry, Roku Gin, grapfruit and other citrus fruits.
The Table, 3a Dundas Street, Edinburgh (www.thetableedinburgh.com)
It takes a bit of perseverance to get a spot at this restaurant, which consists of a single communal table for ten and an open kitchen. You’ll be served six courses, which may include something like squid risotto with pink Champagne.
Tantra, 15 Castle Street, Edinburgh (www.thetrantra.co.uk)
It’s the countdown to this Indian restaurant’s opening, on October 28. It’s in the former premises of Cau and promises a contemporary interior and a “progressive Indian menu”, with cocktails and dishes including a back gold gosht lamb dish and an upmarket soup, the emperor’s daal shorba.