Value for money
A recent visit to Merienda in Stockbridge proved to be a great way to chase away the Sunday evening blues with a warm atmosphere and a selection of delicious sharing dishes.
Our host for the evening, Campbell, greeted us on arrival and explained the ethos behind this relatively new eatery – a choice of Mediterranean style sharing sized dishes using fine Scottish products. Campbell describes the experience as a tasting menu where you select what you’d like, rather than him choosing for you, and what a great experience it was.
The menu is divided into sections, making choosing easy and Campbell recommended we pick six or seven dishes, each of which was served when it was ready.
From the Merienda Staples section we chose the hot parsnip and truffle air with parsnip crisps and the potatoes. I would best describe the parsnip dish as an incredibly light, smooth mousse with the sweet warmth of parsnips accompanied by delicate parsnip crisps. The earthy sweetness of baby potatoes was beautifully complemented by rosemary and aioli, and the roast tomato reduction was a perfect contrast to the lightly crisped potatoes.
With so many enticing choices from the Rivers & Seas options we asked for Campbell’s recommendations and chose the scallop and crab dishes. The scallops were served with Champagne and chive veloute, crisp leek and leek oil. The sweetness of the leek enhanced the delicate flavour of the perfectly seared scallops and the crab, with avocado and roast pimento, was cleverly lifted with lime and chilli. My dining partner for the evening loves spicy food, but I’m more of a “chicken korma” girl, so we were both delighted that the chilli was served in such a way that you could eat as much or as little of it as you liked.
From the Field & Gardens menu we ordered cauliflower and parmesan beignets with rocket pesto. The light, crisp coating of parmesan contrasted beautifully with the slightly bitter taste of the cauliflower – a dish I’ll definitely be trying to replicate at home.
Of the Farms & Pastures choices we selected veal and belly pork. I find veal somewhat overrated, but my dining partner was delighted with the tender meat served with lemon-scented spinach and ricotta and a sage infused jus. Well cooked belly pork is an absolute joy and the chef’s careful rendering of the fat produced a rich and almost creamy flavour, which converted my dubious dining partner.
On to desserts, which are the only dishes not created for sharing, but that didn’t stop my spoon dipping into my friend’s banana dish. Every element on the dish, and there were a lot of them, was well executed – the white chocolate cremeux was sweet and rich, the dulce de leche was gentle in its caramel flavours and the streusel created an added layer of texture to the caramelised banana topping.
Burnt cheesecake is an unusual dish to see on a menu and I was curious to see how the chef would handle the balance of mild charring with the richness of the cheesecake. The answer is with great skill and delicacy creating an incredibly subtle bitterness, which served as the perfect foil to the rich flavour of the cheesecake, all accompanied by the freshness of caramel Grand Marnier mandarins.
Campbell is passionate about his wine list and explained that he’d rather sacrifice profit than the quality of the wines. We chose a very reasonably priced Viognier and were delighted with it.
The atmosphere at Merienda is relaxed and welcoming, the staff are knowledgeable and enthusiastic without being intrusive and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the dining style.
30 North West Circus Place
Tel: 0131 220 2020
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Value for money
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