Hot Spanish character bursts to life in Cafe Andaluz.
Standing outside Cafe Andaluz on this rare, dare I say summery, Edinburgh afternoon, I have to say that I was feeling especially mediterranean. Maybe it was the stunning warm weather that had, rather uncharacteristically, drawn its seductive gaze upon us. Maybe it was the seemingly endless line of beautiful flowing dresses occupying every bustling street terrace. Maybe it was the previous evenings vino della casa still doing what it does best.
But with the colours of June come desires of transformation and renewal. The taste for health and vibrancy becomes intoxicating and contagious. Meal times are an event that include tomatoes, olive oil, good wine, good friends and great conversation. Life becomes, at least for a while, like a long awaited and long deserved holiday.
With that in mind, and with my family already waiting inside for me somewhere amongst the frenzied chitter chatter beyond the door, I entered this little Spanish restaurant with anticipation and smiles.
Except, of course, it's not small at all.The first thing that struck me upon entrance was the sheer scale of the interior. It's quite deceptive from the outside, giving the impression that it is far smaller than it actually is. Walking through the front door is much like walking into Dr Who's Tardis or into the wardrobe from C.S. Lewis's classic childrens fantasy novel. Except what you find here is not the snow, ice and friendly Fauns of Narnia. But the punchy, fiery, yet friendly, textures of Reino de Espana
I was immediately escorted to my table by a very friendly and happy member of staff, who practically danced to my dining destination. And why not? Everybody else seemed to be doing the same. Everybody seemed to be having so much fun. What are they putting in this food?
And then, of course, there is the most important ingredient: the food.
Now I am no expert on Tapas. I've only had the Tapas experience maybe once before in another unnamed (and Italian?) eatery in another town in another time. But if all Tapas was like this, I would eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the rest of my life.
The choice is so vast and varied that there really is something for everybody. Personally, I am of a seafood persuasion and so indulged in some mackrel and squid, which was deliciously fresh and extremely morish.
My worry about Tapas has always been, and I think this is a common misconception, that the servings tend to be too small. And, perhaps more frustratingly, too small for the price being paid.
Do not worry. Three dishes cost only £10.95 per person (Monday to Friday, 12pm to 5pm) and relatively substantial. We all took this deal and we ended up with fifteen plates on the table. It was absurd, ridiculous, mesmerizing and utterly, utterly wonderful.
The staff were really lovely, helpful throughout and all waving farewell as we made our way out to walk off our food in the blistering sunshine.
If the weather is dire and bringing you down, I highly recommend this bouncy ray of sunshine. A good restaurant should always make you feel like you are on holiday. I have already planned my return visit. Maybe you should too. A wonderful experience.