After trying to get ourselves to a Pomegranate, we finally made it. I could go on and on about my verdict about the food and so forth, but in actuality, since we did a mezze style dinner, all of us tried everything and Blythe did a charming job, so I defer to his verdict below, and my contribution shall be photographical-which are sometimes blurry… I got too excited about the food to hold my hand still.
Third time’s a charm, as they say, so given this was our third attempt to pay newly opened middle eastern shisha bar Pomegranate a visit, we were hopeful of a charming evening. To an extent, that’s what we got, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Much like my Cranachan and Crowdie/Edinburgh Larder double header, today we made this a two-stop strategy. First stop was No12 Picardy Place, where we said hi to the folks at Mark Greenaway, then sampled from The Raconteur’s new cocktail menu, upstairs. The chaps are going to be in residence for the next couple of months, so it’s well worth paying them a little visit, not least to try the homemade cherry blossom mist and orange sherbert on their dacquiri.
From there, feeling a little flushed after a sensational brazil nut concoction, we headed to our main destination of the evening.
Pomegranate is a sister restaurant to the popular Johnston Terrace middle eastern spot, Hanam’s. It has been open for just a couple of weeks. We’ve been keeping track of their progress towards opening so had hoped to visit before. Sadly, we’d previously been foiled in one way or another by a kitchen fan and MJ’s parents, but tonight we were unfettered in our progress.
We were joined by MJ’s flatmate and regular questing compadre, Rachel, who most recently joined us on our spectacular re-visit to Mithas, last week. Rachel arrived a little ahead of us, and was bemused as to which name we’d booked under. MJ? BKR? Nope. It was booked under Lunchquest, as we’d arranged things via Twitter.
The welcome was friendly and cheery, and we were shown to a prime people-watching table. The menu offers a number of routes to take. Rather than starter-main-dessert, we opted to go for communal mezze, which seemed in the spirit of the place, given it seeks to showcase street food.
We were feeling peckish, so went for three options each, from the selection of hot and cold dishes. We chose (*takes deep breath*) tabbouleh, soujuk, kubba halab, hummus shawarma, kulicha, dolma, bayengaan, samboussek and halloumi.
Dishes arrived at light speed, and though portions looked quite modest, it seemed like a good array of food that would culminate in content bellies, in the fullness of time. We were light a couple of the hot mezze, but assumed these would appear, subsequently.
Of the initial dishes, the sweet lamb mince kubba halab were good, as were the stuffed baby aubergine. The rest were fine, but a trifle uninspiring. Nothing was bad, but at an hour’s remove, little stuck in the memory.
It became clear that our remaining mezze dishes weren’t going to appear, so we enquired with the smiley staff. Sure enough, they’d gone slightly astray, but they were soon produced, along with a couple of extras, by way of recompense.
These dishes were entirely more impressive. The hummus shawarma was just excellent, and the soujuk, served in a little stew, was just great. They swooped in to save the day of what would otherwise have been a rather average dining experience.
Pomegranate is new: we’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth re-emphasising. With newness comes blessings and curses. The blessings: the place looks lovely and has that fresh feel about it; and it brings a good new option to this part of town, particularly with its late weekend opening hours. The curses: the service isn’t right yet; and their dishes are decidedly hit and miss.
The front of house staff know perfectly well that the service isn’t firing on all cylinders, so I won’t labour the point. The menu weaknesses might be a wee bit more difficult to iron out, but there are ways of structuring the menu to make sure that patrons don’t miss the sure-fire winners. The psychology of ordering is a subject in and of itself, which need not be explored in depth here. Perhaps, they should offer a couple of “sample good partners” or set mezze options, to better guide people, as I’d hate people to visit and end up ordering three “misses” and think badly of what is a restaurant that can definitely deliver so much better than that. It’s much the same criticism as I initially levelled at Kim’s Mini Meals, which has grown to be quite a favourite of mine, so there’s ample precedent for remedying the situation.
Of course, once the staff are up to speed, much of this can be covered by them in their interaction with customers, rather than being written on menus, but the staff need to get the basics right, first.
With the main mezze selection negotiated, we rounded things out with nutty baklawa and typically distinctive Arabic coffee. It concluded what had been an enjoyable evening, in smart surroundings, which whilst charming and enjoyable, wasn’t completely satisfying.
So overall, Pomegranate is a new restaurant, with all thrills and spills inherent in a new venture. Even though the guys running the show are experienced restaurateurs, they are not immune from the vicissitudes of fate and fortune. It certainly fills a new niche in terms of a late place in this neighbourhood, offering a different option from the more established fare, so I’m confident the business will thrive. I’m also sure that it will find me a regular visitor when then mood takes me. But I sincerely hope that the bedding-in process ups the quality and consistency of both the dishes and the service.
Blythe scores Pomegranate
3.5/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
2/5 for service
4/5 for setting
giving an overall 13/20
MJ scores Pomegranate
3.5/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
2.5/5 for service
3.5/5 for setting
giving an overall 13/20
Today’s questers were: MJ, Rachel, Blythe
We ate: mezze; baklawa
We drank: Cobra (non-alcoholic), Tiger (BYOB), water, sparkly water, cha, Arabic coffee
We wore: black trousers, fabulous new tweed jacket, www.tieclub.co.uk tie
Total bill: £59