Our Edinburgh weekend got off to an early start, with a 6am breakfast at Le Pain Quotidian in St Pancras Station. I think that the new Eurostar terminal at St Pancras is a much nicer place to kick off a trip to Scotland that the nearby Kings Cross Station as it has a better selection of shops, places to eat and best of all free to pee toilets. It was here that we had our celebrity encounter spotting TV chef Brain Turner enjoying a Costa Coffee. I wonder where he was off to?
Thankfully our journey up arrived on schedule, so it wasn’t long before we were tucking into an excellent curry at the Mosque Kitchen (33 Nicholson Square). The Mosque Kitchen used to operate out of the Edinburgh Central Mosque (AKA the King Fahd Mosque and Islamic Centre of Edinburgh) on the other side of Nicholson Square in Potterow. There the volunteer staff had been serving up a limited selection of basic halal dishes since 2004, with all the profits going to charity. Don’t let the idea of the basic cuisine put you off though, because in 2010 it was shortlisted for the Best Indian Restaurant in the Scottish Restaurant Awards and was only pipped at he post by the quite awesome Mother India. The secret according to Mohammed Akbar is using two year old basmati rice as it cooks better.
OK it’s basic, you queue up to get served your dish on a paper plate, but the portions are generous, very tasty and incredibly cheap. I had a small mountain of rice with a chicken curry and a side dish all for £4.50, I don’t think you can knock that for value. Obviously there is no booze on sale, but that’s fine for lunch in my book. There is also an ‘eat as much as you can buffet’ offered downstairs for the bargain price of £12.
By contrast we pushed the boat out that evening with a visit to the Indian Cavalry Club (22 Coates Crescent) . I have written about this rather swanky restaurant in Edinburgh’s New Town before and as expected the food was exceptionally good. I had the subtly spiced Mulligatawny soup (yellow not the alarming orange that you get in so many restaurants) to start followed by a chicken Bori Massalum, a piquant curry cooked in yogurt. Of the side dishes the Muttar Paneer and the delicate Keema Naan certainly deserve honourable mentions in dispatches.
For the four of us the bill, complete with drinks, wine, water and coffee, came in at £157.60, but thanks to our Pukka Club membership a whopping great £31.52 (20%) was knocked off that. Definitely a must have in the Edinburgh tool kit!