Food Review: Would you Adam & Eve it?


Posted by in August's Magazine

Pomegranates are the new black, or something. Research has shown that they can protect the heart, protect against oxidative stress such as pollution, chemicals and viruses, and consequently cardiovascular diseases and cancer, and can help bring world peace.

I made that last bit up. But pomegranates are good, apparently. Pomegranate juice contains almost three times the total antioxidant value of the same quantity of red wine, but none of the pleasure, sadly. Still, we should probably eat more of them.

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I remember eating them as a boy, with a pin. You had to pick out each individual seed and that took about an hour per pomegranate – no fun at all for a 7-year-old, so I quickly became bored and went back to Penny Dainties and Fruit Salads – the kind that didn’t contain any fruit, so doubtless very little by way of antioxidant value either.

I read on the BBC web-site that the pomegranate has been cultivated since pre-historic times, and is native to Persia. It is mentioned often in mythology, as a symbol of birth, eternal life, and death, owing to its abundance of seeds and ability to ‘bleed’.

The red skin is linked to the blood of the earth, hence the fruit’s association with forbidden desire. Iranians believe that Eve was tempted with a pomegranate in the Garden of Eden, not an apple.

No Iranian kitchen is without a bottle of pomegranate concentrate, apparently. And how many fruits do you think are likely to have been mentioned in the Book of Exodus, Homer’s Hymns and the Quran? Not many? I agree.

But the Pomegranate has. It must therefore hold some sort of special place amongst believers. I’ve never been a believer, not even in The Monkees’ hey-day, which I hope isn’t too irreverent (or should that be irrelevant?), because I know that the good people who opened Leith Walk’s newest restaurant are Muslims.

That also means they don’t have a liquor licence. But that’s good news for us sinners, because, like its sister restaurant – Hanam’s (see Leither issue 74) – it’s a BYO, without corkage charge.

Woo hoo! Alcohol – as a great man once said – the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems.

I asked Jamal, the owner, how much of the above hugely interesting pomegranate “information” influenced his decision to call his new restaurant thus – not a lot, as it happens. It was, rather, about the fresh, colourful properties which he and his wife, Lisa, wanted to create in their latest venture. Jamal’s family own a pomegranate orchard back home (I’ve seen the photos) and it’s the first place they visit when they return. They wanted the restaurant to bring healthy eating, exotic tastes, fresh colours and a wee reminder of home! – I record here Lisa’s words, and very nice they are too.

We’ve eaten in Pomegranate a couple of times now and whilst there are clear similarities to Hanam’s, it is different enough. The décor and ambiance are also different; very different – the colourful ambition has certainly been realised.

The restaurant is reminiscent of my favourite Italian ice cream parlour; the one where you don’t need to take off your sunglasses. It’s brighter than Albert Einstein running through a Smartie explosion in a Moschino body-suit.

On this visit we were greeted by Fatima, who has Leith’s widest smile (she’s sitting beside Jamal on their web-site – sorry Jamal, but no one’s looking at you in that photo…). She is also an excellent waitress who makes you want to return – and must be related to Jamal because he never stops smiling the whole time you’re in his restaurants. It’s very contagious, so much so that I very nearly offered to pay for our dining companions’ drinks in The Cask & Barrel after-dinner, but caught myself just in time.

The menu offers “delicacies from Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran, to name a few!” and it doesn’t disappoint.

We had falafel (thanks for the correct pronunciation, Fatima…) with humus (£4) and salad, and Soujuk which is spicy Lebanese sausages sautéed in tomato, green pepper, garlic and chilli (£5). Both were excellent and the sausages were not too spicy, and almost as good as Merguez sausages, which really is the boys…

For mains we had Chicken Koobideh (£13.50) – minced chicken breast, marinated in tomatoes and turmeric with green chilli & parsley which was delicious, and Gosht Barzaow Kebab (£14.50) – pieces of lightly seasoned lamb fillet which was as tender and tasty a piece of lamb as I’ve ever eaten, and I love lamb, so eat it a lot.

Both came with salad and the best flat bread this side of Kirkuk. We also had a side order of basmati rice at £2.50.

The mains were (for us) huge portions. But we’d been before and knew that doggy bags would be cheerfully provided.

We rounded off with pomegranate (what else?) ice cream which is made specially for them, as with their other delicious ice creams, and 3 scoops at £3.95 is fantastic value, and Sharia (£4.00) which has nothing to do with Islamic law and everything to do with having a sweet tooth – it’s a spiral nest of honey soaked filo pastry and nuts, a bit like baklava. It had great flavour but was a little bit dry for my taste.

So, another great meal in one of Jamal’s restaurants which I can’t recommend too warmly.

Another marvellous thing about Pomegranate is its proximity to the afore-mentioned Cask & Barrel; a paragon of Edinburgh’s real ale scene, as I may have mentioned before. On this occasion, we savoured the wonderful Young’s Special – one of my favourites.

NB Young’s is often to be found in Leith’s Bond 9 and has been very good whenever I’ve ventured there.

PS Pomegranate has a lunch deal from £7.50, or take-away from £ 6.75, which have got to be worth trying. Also, like Hanam’s, they have a decked area where you can sample a flavoured shisha pipe, and offer a loyalty card which gets you cash off your next bill.

Score:  8 out of 10

Damage: £49.40 + £22 for a lovely bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape (which was reduced from £25 at Leith’s Majestic Wine, so a bargain…)

Pomegranate
1 Antigua Street,
Edinburgh, EH1 3NH
t. 0131 556 8337
w. pomegranatesrestaurant.com

2 responses to “Food Review: Would you Adam & Eve it?”

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