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


Writer & broadcaster.

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