Kuzina has opened, joining a handful of very good Greek restaurants in Edinburgh. It distinguishes itself, however, by taking the native produce of the mainland and islands of home and crafting it into high-end cuisine.
The New Town venue provides a simple, elegant setting. An appropriately amphora-shaped lamp, Poseidon sea-green banquettes, and a vase of flowers; are the features that accent the 25-ish covers.
The classical tone is also set by the fact that the owner, Konstantinos Karvelas is an opera singer and actor while Chef Konstantinos Sakellariou, who creates our meal, has worked in Michelin restaurants including Tim Aiken; at Kuzina tutelage is from Executive Chef Dimitris Dimitriadis.
We start, as every meal should start, with olive oil (golden as Jason’s fleece), rocks of sea salt, and homemade sourdough made with a trahanas (a mix of grain and fermented milk/yogurt) resulting in a moist, springy textured bread.
Much of the produce highlighted in the dishes has PDO status. Graviera, a Gruyère like cheese, is grated over Marinated Artichokes (both are from Crete) with herb pesto, almond skordalia (a dip), almond gel, and sweet firm grapes that cleanse the palate. Mr. Bite’s Confit Potatoes are served with Metsovone cheese cream, crispy trahanas, onion powder, and lovage soil.
Kostas, whose arms are inked with ancient Greek symbols, tells us that he uses lovage as a swap for wild celery as he presents Mr. Bite with his main course of Glazed Pork Cheeks ‘’prasoselino’’ risotto, celeriac, and black garlic puree. Greece has a bounty of wild greens.
By this time I have also tried a few wines from the exclusively Hellenic list. I kick off with a Brut sparkler made from Assyrtiko and Moschofilero grapes (the bottle has a fun label of a fish in a hat) and move to a dry, white, structured Assyrtiko from the Alpha Estate in NW Greece. The latter is served in a Riedel glass with a stem as skinny as a wild poppy.
To accompany my main course of Braised Lamb Shoulder and Leg is an oaky, Poultsidis Vintage 2017 Red mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Agiorgitiko, Xinomavro grapes with long tannins. The lamb has been pulled apart and reformed into a meaty puck. It is rich, tender, and as intense as the dots of sun-dried tomato pesto on the plate. I am bowled over by the wild fennel orzo that has the consistency of an oozy risotto. I could eat a barrel of it.
Desserts are the food of the gods. Kataifi, comprises a nest of shredded pastry (angel hair), ice cream, pistachio ganache, caramelized pistachios, and a forest compote (lovely sharp blackcurrants cut the cream). Of note are the pistachios (PDO status) from the arid island of Aegina. They are recognised as some of the best from around the world. Mr. Bite has “Baba” (Chocolate, “tsoureki” cream, tropical sorbet).
The food and wine at Kuzina is an odyssey of the flora, fauna, and terroir of Greece. Bitter wild greens and herbs, sour citrus, saline wines and cheeses, caramelised nuts; all the flavour profiles are present as are the various foodways that lead up to their presence on your plate.
If you are looking for a special meal in Edinburgh, add Kuzina to your shortlist.
Kuzina will be open Wednesday and Thursday 12. pm-3 pm and 5.30-9; Friday and Saturday 12 pm-
3pmand 5.30-10 pm; and Sunday 12 pm-8.30 pm
For further information or to book visit www.kuzina.co.uk or call 0131-226 1573