It was with considerable joy that we crossed the threshold of Café Nemrut, on Leith Walk. Not only were we glad to be able to sit down, after several hours of walking around the streets of Edinburgh (we’re training for another long walk in September), but we were in celebratory mood, as our friends in Istanbul have just had a beautiful baby girl, named Ayla. It seemed only appropriate that we lunched on Turkish food to mark the occasion.
Mount Nemrut, after which the café is named, is a mountain in eastern Turkey that has some impressive statues on it, some of which have been decapitated, with the heads strewn around the place. This slightly alarming scene is captured in the notable wall art. There’s a heavy emphasis on slate in the design of the place, also, with some nice slate mirrors. It’s a little hectic eclectic, but it gives a good sense of the place being Turkish.
The menu is an evenish split between British all-day breakfast options and more traditional Turkish dishes. This is augmented by a few options on their specials board. From this array, I chose to start with spiced lentil soup, then follow with borek, a traditional stuffed pastry dish, on this occasion stuffed with feta and spinach. MJ opted for the chicken kebab from the specials board.
Our helpful waitress asked if I wanted my dishes to come together or separately. I opted for them to arrive together, so I could play “a little of this, a little of that”, which struck me as a good way to do it.
Dishes arrived promptly. My soup was reminiscent of the one I’d had in Nawroz, although this had a heartier texture. It was lovely, mint-infused, and generally very pleasing.
Borek comes in many forms, with the mince filled filo pastry cigars, and the thicker pastry layered version just a couple from the range of different types. This one was of the thick pastry variety, almost in the style of a stuffed pancake. The familiar flavours sang through, and with accompaniments of tomato rice and dill yoghurt, this was certainly reminiscent of the Turkish home-style cooking I’ve survived on during visits to Turkey.
We rounded things out with Turkish coffee, which though an acquired taste is certainly worth sampling.
So Nemrut served us pretty nicely. At this stage, I’m not sure whether their custom is favouring the Turkish or British side of the menu, so it will be interesting to see how the emphasis of their menu develops. They have plans to run an evening menu focussing on Turkish seafood, so I’m certainly looking forward to that. For sure, it whet the appetite for my visit to Istanbul, next month, when I’ll get to meet little Ayla in person.
It was good to get back into our walking on Sunday, especially since we are signing up for the (obviously piece of cake) 50k walk along the Thames Path in September.
After a brief 12 miles, we stopped by the newish Turkish café that has opened up on Leith Walk, near Lorne Street. I’ve seen it for a while on my escapades around my neck of the woods, but I had yet had cause to go in and give it a go, but today proved a perfect opportunity.
We were the only people in the place the whole time, save for a small group of Turks who came in and then left about the same time we did. The place has some odd art on the walls, and all of it is for sale (from what I could gather). But the vibe is somewhere uncertain between a takeaway café with the glass counter and drinks holder, a café with the tables and a small sofa, but doesn’t have the atmosphere quite right to make me want to spend my whole day there working and drinking Turkish coffee and tea. The menu is rather small, and the place seems to double quite well as a general breakfasty, sandwich shop. We were a bit surprised to find that the menu was about 60/40% (maybe a bit more) standard canteen fare to Turkish grub.
I had a quick conundrum about ordering the hummus and then the soup, or the daily special of chicken kebab, but ended up going with the latter. Blythe asked for all items to come out at the same time (in reference to his soup) and with just enough time for me to wash the dirt from my paws, out food arrived.
My chicken kebab was good. The flavour was nice and the onions and red peppers that were cooked with it added a sweet crispness to the dish. The chicken itself was a bit of a mixed bag. There were bits of dark meat, bits of fatty pieces, and one or two bites of white meat. All were well cooked, but felt somewhere between the kebab chunks and a stir fry. The accompanying tomato rice was nice and subtly flavoured and reminded me of one of my favourite foods while growing up.
One thing that they did very nicely was the small salad of tomato and cucumber, which was excellently seasoned with some olive oil, salt and a tiny touch of mint(?). The yogurt was a light and welcome accompaniment. Overall, it was a nice lunch and felt like I had run upstairs at our friends’ house in Istanbul for that first middle-of-the-night fridge raid in her parents’ kitchen.
The Turkish coffee that followed had the nice, distinct kick that it always does and it went down well as we waited for the rain to let up.
I look forward to seeing what Nemrut do for their dinner service, which they plan to open up before long.
MJ scores Café Nemrut:
3/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for service
3.5/5 for setting
giving an overall 13/20
Blythe scores Café Nemrut:
4/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for service
3.5/5 for setting
giving an overall 14/20
Today’s questers were: Miriam, Blythe
We ate: spiced lentil soup, borek, chicken kebab
We drank: sparkly water, Turkish coffee
We wore: sheepy jumper, pyjama shirt
Total bill: c.£25