Mezbaan is a South Indian restaurant which has been open for business in Edinburgh’s Tollcross area for over 5 years. We’ve always had the restaurant on our “todo” list, but for one reason or another a visit has not materialised. Eating at Mezbaan today wasn’t part of our plan either. We had intended to visit El Quijote (the Spanish tapas restaurant opposite Mezbaan) - but on closer inspection we found it desolate inside and their large menu looked too confusing for our hungover minds to decipher. We will be back though as the praise for El Quijote is seemingly unanimous. Mezbaan won our wallets this time round, with a clear lunch menu of Indian tapas - each dish costing either ¬£1.99 or ¬£2.99.
Mezbaan only offer their tapas menu at lunch-time (12pm - 3pm every day) and rely on their reasonably priced a la carte menu in the evenings. Inside Mezbaan is simply decorated, although some of the walls are due a coat of paint. We started with some perfectly crisp poppadoms (¬£1.20 each) which were served with an excellent selection of accompaniments. The wait for our dishes to arrive was made even more enjoyable, by the excellent Kingfisher lager (¬£4 a pint).
Mezbaan’s tapas menu has over 25 dishes to choose from. The staple order in any South Indian tapas selection is a dosa - basically a pancake made of rice batter, with a choce of filling. Mezbaan serve this in a silver airline tray with a couple of creamy sauces - our vegetable and chicken filled dosas were delicious (¬£2.99 each). With Mezbaan serving South Indian dishes there are some unusual offerings on the menu and coconut features in several of the dishes - it’s definitely a restaurant where you can try something new, so don’t expect to find a dish of chicken tikka massala on the tapas menu.
The portion sizes of Mezbaan’s tapas dishes are generous. Indeed it was a struggle to finish our portions of chana massala (chick peas in a very pleasant sauce), lamb goan curry and bagarey baingain. The latter is chopped aubergine in a semi-spicey sauce and is apparently very popular in Hyderabad. Three different dishes for ¬£7. Outstanding value. Rice and chapathis are available too, at ¬£1.99 each.
Mezbaan offer an inventive and great value tapas menu for lunch. Many of you will know that Mother India’s Cafe is our de facto choice for Indian tapas. But Mezbaan’s lunch tapas menu makes a great alternative choice. And in a crowded sector of the market, South Indian cuisine offers something to differentiate Mezbaan from the crowd.
Mezbaan is located at 14-14A Brougham Street, Tollcross, Edinburgh EH3 9JH
Telephone: 0131 229 5578