Taxidi

Edinburgh

EIGHT squid for some fried cheese, I say to the waiter with what I tell myself is a cheeky twinkle in my eye.

Tell you what, he replies, smiling and pointing at the Saganaki on the menu, if you don’t like it I’ll pay for it.

That deal done I’ll settle back in my chair at the window and watch Edinburgh life beetling by in the late afternoon sun, listen to the bantering in Greek between that waiter and the chef and watch as people step curiously off the street and through the front door that has been propped wide open.

They’ve got some dangly filament lights on the ceiling, someone has put subtle neon strips under the dado rails and though I scan the walls I can’t see a Greek flag, painting or stereotypical image anywhere.

This already has all the warmth of a tiny family-run operation. One teetering on the edge of Edinburgh’s tourist belt, with the Meadows sprawling somewhere back there behind us.

A Greek group came bustling in about five minutes ago and took that table on the other side of the tiny bar; then the father and son who were sitting here asked to move to a four-seater against the back wall for more room, and I grabbed my stuff and bolted towards their primo window perch overlooking those potted olive trees with only a nod from the waiter needed to sanction the move. Happy days.

HeraldScotland:

Honestly? I find myself at first wary of the Gigantes, a bowl of slow cooked butterbeans, with celery, carrot, tomato, onion, parsley and oregano. What is this: a bird, a plane, a spread? Should I have ordered one of those puffy pitta breads too? A tentative tablespoon reveals it tastes like a very good mashed potato with citrus sparkles. In between crunching Flogares – spring rolls with sauteed leek and feta – and cutting that Saganaki Ladotiri, and swirling big crispy triangles of it through the lemon pulp on the plate, I somehow manage to very classily tablespoon-up all six quids worth of it. Completely clearing the bowl.

Ah, I’ll need fingers to get started on the Yaourtlou, picking off one after another of these properly attractive chips, from very good potatoes, like your mum made: glistening, crisp, floury and salty, speckles from the pan still on them.

I mean to ask what potatoes they use, they’re yellowy and a little sweet like good Italian ones, whilst paying up but forget in the momentary shock of learning they don’t take cards.

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Uh? Be quicker to do a runner, I’ll say as I’m directed out and round a corner and way across that monster multi junction on Lothian Road to find a card machine.

After the fries then? Fork and knife to slice hunks of seared soutzoukaki in minced lamb, pork and beef, rolled in yoghurt and drenched in roasted cherry tomatoes. Then it’s back to fingers to wrap the remnants of the meat in that good pitta bread, slather with yoghurt and tomato, hoist towards coupon and finish it off. Oblivious, almost, to the sideways glances from tables around.

Off course I was never going to take the waiter up on that Saganaki promise, made as he switched seamlessly from Greek to the broadest Edinburgh lilt and with these words: can I make a wee suggestion? The savoury, salty, hard cheese itself is Number One comfort food anyway, teetering dangerously towards too fatty only to be caught and twirled into the arms of that sharp lemon pulp.

Nosiness alone prompts me to order both the Greek Yoghurt, served with dollops of sticky sweet quince preserve, crumbled pistachio, and the Loukamades, those tiny Greek donuts with a pot of honey and walnuts.

Somehow I end up dragging the doughnuts through the yoghurt, smearing the honey into the jammy quince and happily finish the meal convinced I’ve invented a whole new dessert.

Taxidi

6 Brougham Street

Edinburgh

0131-228-1030

Menu: Yaourtlou, Flogeres, Saganaki Ladotori. It’s Greek comfort food, pittas, kebabs, plus a few interesting little side dish options too. 4/5

Service: Warm friendly and very relaxed vibe that oozes that almost priceless, nowadays, family-run restaurant vibe. 5/5

Price: It is Edinburgh so they’re never going to be giving it away. That hand-knitted Yaourtlou was £14.50 but almost all you can eat. 3/5

Atmosphere: Front door propped wide open, maybe 20 seats in total, clean crisp interior and warm hubbub inside – I liked it. 5/5

Food: Flogeres could have done with more feta, but that was the only grumble in a succession of satisfying dishes that were cleanly executed, comforting and flavoursome. 7/10

24/30