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130 George Street,
City of Edinburgh,
0131 527 4999
Restaurant: 12 noon to 10pm; Bar: 12 noon to 1am

BABA is a Levant inspired mezze restaurant, charcoal grill and cocktail bar based in The Principal Hotel on George Street. 

It is the branchild of Ox and Finch duo Jonathan MacDonald and Daniel Spurr in collaboration with Katherine Arnold and Robbie Bargh. We met Jon and Katherine at a review night in early November and were impressed by their hospitality and enthusiasm. 

Kicking off with cocktails we sampled Bellinis, a Negroni and a Barberry Sour. The twist with the Negroni was olive oil which gave it an interesting texture whilst the ‘sour’ contained Glenkinchie 12 year old and a date and barberry syrup; sharp and fruity. 

The team have had fun with flavours more often found in an Ottolenghi cook book than on George Street. The line-up includes rose, harrissa, cardamom, dukkah, preserved lemons, pine nuts, pomegranate, mint; I could go on. 

If you love grazing and sampling BABA is the place for you. Seafood, meat and vegetable dishes are presented in abundance. 

Attention to detail is evident but the simple things are a joy too. Nuts come spiced and warmed, flatbreads are über fresh and fluffy.

A shocking pink beet with whipped feta dips sits next to the hot fierce colours of squash, chilli, toasted seeds, tahini and za’atar There are eight dips on the menu and you can have them all for £8.50 pp with pitta. We did. 

From the grill, chuck-eye steak, sumac onion salad and red pepper ketchup was juicy and very rare. Monkfish and hake dishes delighted but it was the cauliflower with its daringly charred edges and drenching of tahini, ras-el-hanout and rose that wowed our table. 

Some interesting wines were imbibed too namely a Blanc de Blanc and a Viognier from Lebanon but the list contains global faves from a number of select suppliers. 

I am pretty sure BABA is going to be a hit. And to answer a fellow diner's question asked on the night – yes Edinburgh is ready for BABA.



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