Strada is a nationwide chain of Italian restaurants, with their first Scottish branch having arrived in Edinburgh, last year. Since then, I’ve been meaning to visit, but each time I’ve past it hasn’t quite enticed me to cross their threshold. After a long walk in cold and snowy conditions, I had developed a considerable appetite, so was more than pleased to take the opportunity to pop inside.
The place was sparsely populated, but that was no great surprise as it was past the lunchtime rush and into the middle part of the afternoon.
I was seated at the window, and left to contemplate the menu and the decor. I quickly settled upon the zuppa vongole (clam soup), one of their signature dishes, apparently, and pumpkin risotto, so was left with a moment or two to contemplate the surroundings.
I found the place bedecked with very odd, egg-shaped lamp-shades, with the rest a mix of dark wood, red seats and white walls. I think it was aiming for some sort of chic minimalism, but didn’t hit the mark, for me.
My soup starter soon arrived. The small, deep bowl contained rather greasy looking, scaldingly hot soup, with clams in the shells and fregola pasta buried in the depths. I quickly fished the clams out of the disappointingly thin broth, as I feared leaving them at the bottom of this watery volcano would have rubberised them entirely. The soup itself tasted of very little beyond parsley. It was a poor effort, and as for it being one of their signature dishes…
The main course risotto was a little better. It had a good ooziness to it, but the chunks of squash and pumpkin buried in the mix were inelegantly large, unevenly cooked, and tasted rather strongly of the white wine that presumably had been glugged into the risotto. The overwhelming flavour was of the pancetta, which dominated to the exclusion of the vegetables that were supposed to be the stars of the show.
Strada is priced, and the menu presented, like it is a top-end Italian restaurant. What I experienced was disappointingly mediocre. Each aspect of the Castle Street branch was below the standards that they would need to attain to merit their price-point. The food is patchy at best, the look of the soup dish had been given little consideration, the service is ordinary, and the setting soulless and sterile. Overall, there is one word that neatly sums-up the place: avoid.
Blythe scores Strada
2/5 for food
2.5/5 for presentation
2.5/5 for setting
2.5/5 for service
giving an overall 9.5/20
Today’s quester was: Blythe
I ate: zuppa vongole; risotto zucca
I drank: sparkly water
I wore: snow-wear
Total bill: £19.80