Is it possible to fall in love with a restaurant?

Proof Gursel Bahar did stand still once

A bizarre question and one I couldn’t answer until last night 6.45 pm.

Doing research for means I am stomping the streets, eating tons ( no change there) and exploring previously unchartered territory. So as the rain came battering down I phoned  to try and get a table for 6.30 ‘Can’t do 6.30’  Oh I thought they’re not open yet so as the stomachs rumbled and the idea of going somewhere else became unavoidable I called them back to cancel our 7.30 table – ‘Ooooh’ said the voice ‘I was going to call you back. A table is free – come now!’

5 minutes later we walked in. Not open? The place was jumping.  It was 6.45 pm on a Wednesday night, the worst night we have had in months. Rivers of water were running over the pavements and yet life was raging on in this warm, tinkly, wee restaurant with lots of happy, relaxed diners who knew.  The had the knowledge.  No matter what time of day or night this is where you want to be.

Looks nothing special - don't be fooled - this is super special

Spirits lifted and  smiling broadly we were shown to our table on the mezzanine level at the back  of this small room. If you could bottle an atmosphere this man would be the richest man on the planet.  Every available space is packed with stuff, high shelves house bottles of booze, wall spaces have things hanging off them not as decoration but as a means to fit everything you need to run a restaurant into this limited space.

Large mirrors reflected small twinkly lights as we sat observing the other diners, God they were a happy lot.

Seconds later a basket of warm pitta bred and olives arrived with a smiling waitress who took our drinks order. 2 glasses of red please said Dave with that ‘I’ve never had Turkish wine before look in his eye’. Well he’ll be having it again, in fact he did.

All squished in it works brilliantly

Suddenly the smiling  proprietor  was standing by our table. Dave ordered special of the day , sardines chargrilled (3.95). Teenwolf,  haloumi cheese  (4.10)  and I seared squid with walnut & rocket (4.50) . In an instant he was gone. Why?  Because he also cooks the food!

I could wax lyrical for hours about the flavours . All three dishes were wonderful. Sardines expertly filleted, on a bed of salad leaves dressed beautifully. Squid chargrilled with walnuts and rocket drizzled with delicious dressing and haloumi – often akin to  a trainer sole – chargrilled, salty and addictive.

Sitting back we watched as our  unflappable host, sped on through.

Main courses Dave and I both plumped for  kuzu shish (8.50), marinated lamb on skewer was the underplayed description. Teenwolf for Karishik Izgara (8.95),  description simply mixed grill.

On tasting the food

We sounded like When Harry Met Sally as we tasted our main courses. No one batted an eyelid – they must be used to it. The flavour was fabulous, the lamb slightly pink in the middle was completely fat free not one iota of gristle. Tender as the night,  it literally melted in my mouth. I could feel tears of joy welling in my stomach – I had come home. Served with a timbale of rice and tomato even writing this 12 hours later makes me want to go back and break in for breakfast.

The mixed grill sounds pedestrian and  consisted of chicken, lamb and garlic sausage.  Pedestrian it was not. How you can take a bit of chicken, a bit of lamb and a slice or two of sausage and infuse so much flavour and produce such tender and delicious bites I will never comprehend. Teenwolf was speechless, which as a teenager is quite normal, but coupled with a smile that broad?  A rarity indeed.

My next husband, aka the chef appeared again to clear the plates as other tables were emptying and filling up again instantly. Turning laden with plates he showed people to their tables, took orders, cooked the food without missing a beat.  All jokes prevoiusly made about men being unable to multi-task are hereby banned – this man was like a whirling dervish without any sign of stress, or grumpiness he twirled and on  hearing ‘your food is fantastic’.   He beamed ‘Thank you Campbells!’  ?? before slipping off to take care of another 5 things.

Pud. Well you have to. Teenwolf had baklava £3.85  3 pieces of honey drenched filo with nuts, scrumptious. LSH plumped for Hanedan’s mess £3.50 – Eton mess by another name but he even made this taste better than meringues, cream and strawberries have a right to do. OK this may be my entry into pseuds corner but I am in love. You will be too. Go go go go go go go go.

There. I can relax now, well once I’ve booked  table for lunch.

Hanedan, 41 West Preston Street, Edinburgh EH8 9PY  0131 667 4242

  • Elisabeth Macgregor

    Hi Alison, I sent a message in July about Hanedans having missed out after being at a very wet Rod Stewart concert. I must say I didn't get a chill. But I am writing to say we eventually got to Hanedan's on Saturday after that awful rugby debacle. I can only agree with everything you wrote. I told him it was your review which brought us there. Thank you for alerting us to here.

  • Aha. So you are the man whose number I want on speed dial. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. I will now tell the world Campbell's Prime Meat are the biz! God I'm going to have to go eat something now just the thought of it and I'm off.

  • Hi Alison – just back from holiday and catching up on your diary for food.

    The Hanedan review when Gursel says “thank you Campbells!” refers to Campbells Prime Meat Ltd.

    We supply meat and fish into a lot of your reviewed restaurants, I am always keen to read your views on these units.

    Cheers to Gursel for the shout out.

    Take care.

    Campbells Prime Meat Ltd

  • Now I am going to sound like my mother – I hope you didn't get a chill!

  • Elisabeth Macgregor

    Wish I had read this earlier just back from 3 nights staying at Pollock Halls, we could have been there. I can testify to the rain was at Rod Stewart, soaked to the skin ' literally'.

  • I almost didn't want to tell a soul it is so fab I wanted to live there myself but common sense prevailed and now I am bumping my gums about it to anyone who will listen. See you there at some point no doubt! Cheers Janet. Alison x

  • Janet Morton

    Such a wonderful place! My parents live just up the street and we have been going here for years. Mum & Dad first visited after Gursel, standing at the doorway, overheard Dad say to Mum as they passed by that he'd read a not very good review of the place not long after it opened – he charmingly asked them to come in and have a drink on the house and try it out and make their own minds up about it – we've been regular customers ever since! I had a lovely 40th Birthday dinner there and we've had many very happy family occasions as well as just popping in when good food and warm friendly service are called for. Glad you enjoyed it too – very highly recommended!

  • That made me larf. Once you go you'll be as bad as I am ! Cheers!

  • Hot Laura

    ok ok ok …. we'll go, your good at the passion writing ….

  • Martin forbes

    Looks kie you enjoyed your feast of food alison .
    Hope you are well.
    When you made you would nt believe it in 1990 with nicky cambell at Grampian did you ever visiot the in vision continuity studio some people say it si very tiny looked small on screen.
    Martin forbes

  • Do and let me know what you think!

  • Let me know what you think when you try it!

    All the best,

    Alison x

    Quoting Disqus <>:

  • Jean Dunsmore

    Hi, Alison sounds delightful My son and his family eat in Edinburgh because they live in Falkirk and they prefer Edinburgh for shopping and eating out They have 2 boys who do enjoy their food as they are both at uni and never make a decent meal so eating out is their weekend treat from mum and dad I will pass on your e-mail to them and I am sure they will try the Turkish Treat. My Niece in London married a Turkish man and he owns 3 Turkish eating houses in London and when ever we go there he treats us and I can honestly say I have never tasted nicer food in my life so Edinburgh here we come I will put the address into my sat.nav. Thanks Alison for the tip Best regards Jean

  • cathie

    God, Alison wish I'd known this on Tuesday, was in The Capital for the day, sounds heavenly will keep the info for our next visit

    Cheers, Cathie