I had Our Beer Man for company and given he’s a Leith local I was relying on him for much of the direction finding. And two of our three dining locations were his choice, too. We started at the grim Ocean Terminal shopping centre, where the chains generally hold sway, but where an interesting new Greek place, Mr Nick’s, had recently taken up residence. We popped in to give it a try.
With as much of a taverna feel as can be imbued to a soulless and spirit-draining shopping mall, they’ve made a really concerted effort to break free from the constraints of their surroundings. I really liked it.
Given that this was the first stop on a tour, we were in the mood for things that gave us a decent indication of the menu’s breadth while not filling us up entirely. We ordered a pair of gyros (chicken and pork) with a little smoky aubergine and pitta to amuse our bouches.
The dip was excellent and complex in its warmth of spicing. The gyros were first class, too, with particularly fresh pitta and really good meat. We were both very pleased.
After a couple of middling ales at the Malt & Hops – great place but the beers were not really all they could have been, this evening – it was on to our main course destination, VDeep.
Formerly the home of The Vintage, VDeep is an interesting middle ground between the previous outstanding beer selection and a fresh, new Indian menu. Hardeep Singh Kohli is at the helm, bringing his patented version of…well, on this occasion front of house banter.
We’d happened upon vegan night, which is an increasingly popular event. One look at the menu revealed plenty we wanted to sample.
We settled upon the chilli tofu, a regular order for me in Chinese restaurants, immediately, then thought the pakora would be a good way to go. We added their salad of the day, which was red cabbage and orange.
When items arrived, the pakora were the most eye-catching. They proved to be the highlight with the onion variety particularly good.
However, the other two dishes reflected rather brutal application of chilli heat to bring distinctly unsubtle seasoning to proceedings.
This was a real shame as their beer offering was first class with great items sampled from Alechemy and Burning Sky.
To round things out, we popped over the road to Anfora where they were just closing up for the evening. We convinced owner Zak to let us stay for a quick port and it was to good advantage, all round.
This was a dessert of brilliant quality, with viscosity that coated the glass with silky gladness. We left sated and delighted.
So overall, we had a glorious rollercoaster of Leith food fun on our Grubcrawl. We found two really great places and one that was impressive for drinks, although their food wasn’t quite so good. We look forward to our next grubcrawl in this well-appointed neighbourhood.
Our Beer Man’s Verdict
I rather enjoy Greek cuisine, so was intrigued when Mr Nick’s opened. My expectations were low, but – assisted by the attentive service – I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The aubergine dip – although garlicky rather than smoky – with lovely warm fluffy pitta was a strong opener.
The pork gyros made for great eating. It was a fairly hefty beast – double the size of the dainty snack-sized ones I’ve enjoyed on Greek hols – but wonderfully tasty, the pitta packed with flavoursome charred pork, chips and tzatsiki.
After a couple of pints in the Malt And Hops, our next stop was VDeep, where I’ve found the food patchy – and so it proved again on the monthly vegan night. The mixed vegetable pakora was good – if seriously overpriced at £8.50 for six pieces.
The other dishes were less successful, mugged by volcanic chilli. The orange and cabbage salad was initially tasty, but killed by the chilli afterburn. The chilli garlic tofu seemed misjudged to me: the delicate little wobbly pillows of beancurd completely overwhelmed by a ferociously fiery sauce which we ended up leaving. We expected heat, of course, but this was OTT.
Luckily, the beer selection was good as usual – including beers from Alechemy and Burning Sky – to dampen the flames.
Across the way, Anfora was closing up but managed to squeeze us in for a civilised dessert digestif.
Initially hankering after a sherry, we were steered towards port instead. And I’m delighted we accepted that recommendation – this vintage port was a revelation, dark, sweet and deeply delicious.
It was the perfect ending to a grubcrawl which had delivered a few highs and, unfortunately, a few lows.
Today’s questers were: Our Beer Man, Blythe
We ate: gyros, aubergine dip at Mr Nick’s; orange and slaw salad, onion/potato/spinach pakora, chilli tofu at VDeep
We drank: beers, port
We wore: grubcrawl fatigues
Total bill: £21.45 (Mr Nick’s); £35.10 (VDeep), £14 (Anfora)