February 10, 2012 Middle Eastern, Old Town, soup 4 Comments

Outside

MJ’s Verdict
I had been looking forward to our lunch at Nawroz ever since I saw that it had popped into the place near the uni where Koi used to be. So I jauntily bopped along to meet B there on Thursday. Inside the place is slick and cool, with stone tabletops and black chairs that speaks more of middle eastern simplicity of style rather than a comforting meeting place. But the smell of an open fire quickly overcame any other thoughts as I sat with the awaiting B.

The lunch menu at Nawroz is a tremendously good deal. 2 courses for £7.00. Ace.

The menu was varied enough that I was quite happy to stay with the lunch deal as opposed to going off menu. The only thing I really really wanted to try was the tabbouleh, but it turned out to be a good move to not order it.

Hummus

Within a very short period, a huge bottle of sparkling water arrived followed by B’s soup and my hummus, which was served with a large piece of something that seemed to be a cross between a nan (they called it a nan) and a lavash. Either way, it was light and perfectly fresh. The only thing I would question about the hummus was the use of a random oil on the top—I generally assume (which can be dangerous, I am well aware) the oil on the hummus to be olive oil, but this version at Nawroz had no smell or taste at all and didn’t enhance the dish, since the hummus itself was quite good.

Bread!

I tried not to fill up on the hummus and nan while I waited impatiently (it didn’t take long, but the smell of open fires and cooking over them makes my mouth water) for my main course of Mrishk Kebab, which was chicken cubes marinated in tomato sauce, olive oil and lemon juice and grilled on a skewer. When it arrived, I was impressed by the portion sizes. My chicken was slightly red from the marinade and the bits on the edges were ever so slightly charred, while the middle was moist and perfectly cooked. The two sauces it came with were not really used; one tasted like a chili sauce with a ketchup base, and the other was minty and creamy.

Chicken kebab

The chicken was served with another bit of bread and a bit of salad like stuff, which wasn’t terribly interesting, but added a nice bit of texture. I was pleased with my meal and got the added pleasure of watching B make a royal mess of his. And he looked so happy doing it!

The coffee was, er…special. It was good, mind, but I am not a huge fan of cardamom on the best of days and our espressos were thick with it. B was delighted, as you can imagine.

I was well and truly stuffed after lunch and went away knowing that I will return again for lunch, but might pop around the corner to Beirut instead for dinner.

Inside

Blythe’s Verdict
Given my unabashed adoration for Istanbul, which was multiplied yet further on a recent weekend visit, I live in fear and trepidation of visits to restaurants purporting to offer Turkish, Kurdish or Middle Eastern cuisine, because I assume I’m going to run in to mediocre versions of dishes I’ve sampled there that will leave me feeling sad. But from both perspectives, that tends to be completely wrong.

Firstly, my trips to Istanbul have ruined me for more basic things like steak and burgers (the incomparable Nusret is chiefly responsible); and secondly, I’ve had pretty good luck with restaurants of this type, including a lovely trip to Nargile, last year.

FIRE in the kitchen!

Nawroz is fairly new, having opened towards the end of 2011, following the demise of Koi, which used to occupy the premises. It was fairly sparsely populated, today, but there was plenty of lively entertainment provided by the intriguing aromas and vigorous-looking flames from the kitchen.

Once we were settled in our seats, we contemplated the short, focussed lunch menu. We quickly decided that we would stick with the offerings there, without reference to the larger a la carte menu that was also offered, not least because the lunchtime deals looked to be excellent value. It offered two courses for £7 and three for £10. Eschewing the lokum and baklava, on this occasion, we both settled upon two courses.

Our hummus and soup soon arrived, accompanied by a large, freshly made Kurdish style naan. This was a thin, lighter version of the more traditional item you run into in every Indian restaurant, and whilst it didn’t pack much flavour, it was an excellent idea to serve such a freshly created item.

My soup, listed as lentil, was really a blend of lentils, tomato and mint. I found it really interesting, with a really refreshing fragrant bite to it. The texture was good, too, so I was very pleased with it. I dunked a little of the naan in it, and also tried a little of MJ’s hummus, which wasn’t spectacular but had good enough flavour.

wrap

Our attentive waiter let us continue to play with the hummus while he brought our main courses. My shawarma looked very good, and MJ’s chicken had a very eye-catching hue to it. Tucking in, I made a right royal mess – it was completely glorious! Each mouthful was packed with flavour, moist and really satisfying. The wrap was a little on the thick side, which added to the gigantic mess I was making of things, but that didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment.

All the food!

Our dishes came with another large naan, to which we gave little justice, as we were both stuffed full. I made a few final attempts, mopping up a little of the excellent jajic dip.

We decided to finish things with a little espresso. Imagine my delight on tasting the coffee to discover it was heavily laced with cardamom, one of my favourite things in the world. I’m not sure MJ was quite so delighted, but it worked very nicely as a combination. Maybe a little throttling-back, next time, might make for a more finely balanced experience, but it provided an excellent end to what had been a very good meal.

Overall, I was impressed by Nawroz. It offered accurately prepared, well presented dishes, with good quality ingredients, for an extremely reasonable price. In fact, it was exactly what I expected I’d get from Illegal Jack’s, the other day. Funnily enough, my bill in Jack’s and the bill for the two of us, today, were almost exactly the same amount. I think we’ll be back to visit Nawroz again soon, particularly as it fits the profile for one of our Sunday refuelling stops, very nicely.

Scores
MJ scores the Nawroz:
4/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
4/5 for service
3.5/5 for setting
giving an overall 15/20

Blythe scores the Nawroz:
4/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
4/5 for service
3.5/5 for setting
giving an overall 15/20

Today’s questers were: Miriam, Blythe

We ate: lentil soup, hummus, Mrishk Kebab, lamb shawarma

We drank: sparkly water, cardamom espresso

We wore: House of Vera – Designs by Eleni jewellery, boots that apparently didn’t match my suit

Total bill: c.£20

Nawroz Restaurant
26-30 Potterrow
Edinburgh Scotland, UK

0131 667 2299
http://www.nawrozrestaurant.com

Nawroz on Urbanspoon

Written by BKR