The Mosque Kitchen

From the outside; hard to photograph due to traffic.

The menu!

The MQ does retain some of its communal charm.

Blythe’s Verdict
Over the past few years, the Mosque Kitchen has quickly grown in to an Edinburgh staple, coming in to its own during festival time. Its location, neatly placed between the seething hubs of comedy merriment that are the Pleasance and the George Square/Bristo Square nexus plays some part in that. Its well deserved reputation for no-nonsense, reasonably priced, high quality, stamina enhancing festival fuel covers the rest.

Transported from its al fresco beginnings, adjacent to the Mosque, to fresh new premises just around the corner, how has the place coped with the transition from pigeon-friendly to four-walled splendour? I think the answer is: very well.

Many elements remain: the trademark paper plates and plastic spoons; the lightening canteen-style service; and the pleasing array of richly flavoured delights, catering with consummate simplicity for vegetarians and unabashed carnivores alike.

Chicken Curry with samosa.

Meat curry (lamb perhaps?)

Daal and meat curry.

Daal and chicken curry.

What’s lost is some of the camaraderie enhancing powers of the big communal tables, previously a valuable source of festival gossip and buzz, but with a couple of ten person tables, there’s still some potential for that cultural exchange to take place.

The new place is simple, bright, and relaxed. It lacks some of the undoubted charm of the old place, for sure, but they could have really screwed things up with their move indoors and they’ve not fallen in to any of the obvious traps, so well done.

I ate a meat curry, with rice and daal. The daal was excellent – as good as you’ll find in the city – and the full-flavoured meaty chunks were supremely satisfying. Round the table, we’d each chosen something a little different, but there seemed little dissention and a lot of empty plates.

Overall, it’s an unmissable Edinburgh lunch spot that represents excellent bang for your buck. If you’ve not been there, go, and if you haven’t been for a while, go back and sample it again. You won’t be disappointed.

MJ’s Verdict

I have to admit that, not so secretly, I didn’t think there would be any dissention in the ranks when we went to the Mosque Kitchen. For a venue that serves its offerings in plastic bowls, it has remarkable consistency. 

Saag Aloo and vegetable curry.
I never went into Imans, so I can’t say how much the venue has altered since being taken over by the MQ, but over all it’s inoffensive. The food, however, fares a bit better. Like B said, we all had slightly different meals from the cafeteria style servers.  I chose saag aloo with vegetable curry on rice (I didn’t really choose the rice so much as all meals are served on a big pile  of it). The vegetables were well cooked, not overly soft and had a nice kick. The saag was well flavoured, but the mushy consistency and look makes me think of baby food; ok, Indian baby food. It’s not the best saag I’ve ever had, but it was the best damn saag I’ll likely ever taste for 4.50. And everyone else’s clear plates and thumbs up indicated a generally joyous consensus all-round.
The coffee after was ok (for an India café). But we didn’t try the desserts in the glass counter which looked to try to be something for all, and seemed likely to be brought in and not made in house (though the thought of the stoic looking men who served me saag, making dainty cupcakes, is kinda fantastic). There were massive, American-sized cupcakes which looked like at some point they were normal cupcakes that turned mutant and ate one another till they grew three times the normal size; standard size cupcakes, baklava, some sort of Danish pastry and what looked to be gajar halva.

Monster-sized cupcakes.

Gajar halva (I think)

Normal, and pretty cupcakes.

It is only right that Lunch Quest: Edinburgh, reviewed the Mosque Kitchen, not only is it a staple of Edinburgh (and especially relevant during the Fringe and term times), it is the first place B and I had lunch together many months ago, though, I prefer our current company to the pigeons we shared the table with last time.

Scores on the Doors

Out of 20 Blythe gives the Mosque Kitchen:
4/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
4/5 for service
3/5 for setting
giving an overall 15/20

Out of 20 Miriam gives the Mosque Kitchen:
3/5 for food
2/5 for presentation
3/5 for service
3/5 for setting
giving an overall 11/20

Today’s Lunch Questers were: Miriam, Gary, Grant, Toy, Blythe.

We wore: Made-to-measure dark blue suit, green floaty dress, purple hooded garment, friendly spectacles, jaguar tie pin.

We ate: A range of curries and sundries

We drank: Mecca mineral water, Espresso/Black Coffee

Total Bill: c.£40 (Curries – £5.50, Coffees – £1.50, Water – £1)

Mosque Kitchen
West Nicholson Street

Mosque Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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7 Responses to The Mosque Kitchen

  1. Lime_Smoothie says:

    Good stuff. Perhaps you could give the same treatment to that late night festival favourite Kebab Mahal?

  2. BKR says:

    The notion of going to Kebab Mahal in a fit state of sobriety is intriguing. We'll see whether we can fit it in. Certainly, we'll mention it in our Bumper Festival Bulletin, which we'll be posting towards the end of this week :-)

  3. BKR says:

    Perhaps I should explain how I can possibly justify giving a 4/5 for presentation to a place that serves its food on paper plates.

    The argument starts with this: when asked to describe the Mosque Kitchen in one sentence, I'd say "great food, much cheapness, paper plates". So, I would mention the presentation of the food in the first breath, and I would mention it as a positive thing. There aren't too many other places where I'd do that.

    I consider their paper plates akin to fish n chips wrapped in newspaper – a classic. Good presentation doesn't have to mean Welsh slate and neat towers (although the notion of serving curries in neat minarets does appeal, now I mention it!) – it can come from a much wider and unexpected range of things.

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