Having not long returned from Turkey, we yearned for some good Turkish bites. We missed the fresh and tangy salads, their tender, moreish meat kebabs, their all-too-sugary desserts. And so, led by our stomachs, we headed to Pera.
Though quite centrally located, near Edinburgh’s entertainment centre, the Omni Centre, you could easily walk by Pera and think little of it. Pera is small and unassuming, with a café (rather than restaurant) feel. Snaking our way through the assault course of chairs and tables, we squashed into our seats. The room was nicely decorated, with Turkish lanterns hanging from the ceiling, and a buzz from the other patrons, though it’s probably not the best place to visit if you’re claustrophobic.
Service was pretty slow but very friendly, with the owner (we assumed) greeting customers enthusiastically, ready to talk about his food with a huge smile on his face. The chef also made appearances, bringing out hot plates of food or loading up sharing plates with cold mezze starters which all looked delicious.
We ordered the hot mezze platter and the special mixed grill. The hot mezzes came first: the spicy Turkish sausage with grilled halloumi was simple but addictive, with a nice level of heat and salt. A courgette and dill fritter followed, which was the highlight of our meal: fresh and invigorating, unusual but incredibly tasty. The final mezze dish was a breadcrumbed, fried pancake filled with salted meat, which was enjoyable but overly salty.
The house special mixed grill contained a range of charcoal-cooked meats which had been marinated, including chicken and lamb. These were tender and tasty, with that barbecue burn which adds smoke to the flavour. This was accompanied by a tomato and onion salad with a little hit of chilli, plus some moist and fruity bulgar on the side. We were a little disappointed that there was no bread or yoghurt served with the kebab, though, especially since it was one of the most expensive dishes on the menu.
Acquiring the bill took a very long time, but we were offered a free piece of fresh Turkish delight, which we snapped up.
In short: the food at Pera was delicious, with almost every item being a big hit with each of us. However, there’s not much room inside and if you’re in a hurry then you may need to look elsewhere.
Russell scores Pera
4.5/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for service
3.5/5 for setting
giving an overall 15.5/20
We ate: mixed hot mezze platter and special mixed grill
We drank: water
Price: £24.90 (approximately £12.50 per person)