On a wet Tuesday a couple of weeks ago, I ventured further afield to Portobello to the Beach House Cafe to sample their first ever pop up supper club. Despite the weather and feeling under the weather myself, it was more than worth the effort for what turned out to be wonderful Lebanese food and superb company.
The Beach House Cafe is a little gem of a place, situated on the the promenade at Portobello and really comes into its own during the spring and summer and even on a wet, windy, winter’s evening, was still warm and welcoming.
The Beach House Cafe aim to provide simple, delicious, and where possible organic, locally sourced food. They now have a small garden and are growing many of the herbs, flowers, spinach and salads that they use every day, although possibly not in the winter months.
Their breads are freshly baked daily, with no additives, no preservatives and no palm oil. East Coast Organics provides the seasonal vegetables for their soups, their eggs are local, free-range and organic, as is their milk. Their meats are from Findlay’s of Portobello: free range and naturally fed. They even make our own gelatos, ice creams and sorbets using organic milk.
Now open in the evenings, they were trialling the concept of a supper club and I was invited along to try it out. Unlike some supper clubs, diners dined with their own parties. The theme for the evening was Lebanese and Emily, the chef, had obviously been busy, slaving over a hot stove for several days preparing the food.
There was certainly a lot of food to devour and although I felt I was coming down with the lurgy, I decided to follow the expression to ‘feed a cold’.
On arrival, we were greeted with pomegranate and rose cocktails, which captured the flavours of the Middle East, served with crispy squash, goat’s cured and rose harissa parcels and Aleppo olives.
Then followed a mezze of dishes which included: smokey aubergine salad with parsley and garlic; baked marinated feta; butterbean hummus; homemade spiced and aromatic Labneh; and roast cauliflower with green chilli and coriander; served with eastern style focaccia. Everything was beautifully balanced and you could tell the food had been prepared with passion and love.
The word mezze is thought to have derived from the Persian maza meaning ‘taste’ or ‘relish’ and was designed to be savoured alongside tea, wine, beer or a yoghurt drink with the aim of pleasing the palate, not to fill the belly. It’s a relaxing custom that can be enjoyed at any time of day as an appetiser, snack or buffet spread, served in small quantities and shared at a leisurely pace.
Even though I was quite full from the mezze, then followed a main of chicken, walnut and pomegranate stew, bean kofte, zhug sweet and sour dressing with yoghurt, cucumber and mint, which was all too good to pass on; although I did only take a little plateful.
For dessert, there was a refreshing carpaccio of pineapple with mint, fragrant rose panna cotta and bite-size carrot and saffron cake. Whilst I couldn’t do justice to a big plate, I loved small mouthfuls of each, which were light enough to finish what had been an amazing feast.
I enjoyed a red Lebanese wine from Chateau Musar in the Bekaa Valley (2016) with the food, although other beers and wines were on offer. If you haven’t had this wine before, expand your horizons and try it. The first sip can be challenging but having had it before, I knew what to expect and it really does complement the style of the food.
Sara, the owner of the Beach House Cafe, is hoping the supper clubs will become a regular occurrence in the new year and they have another one scheduled for next Friday, 14 December with a game theme.
So grab some friends and venture out to Portobello. Sadly I’ve got a Swiss themed evening that night with friends and we’re having raclette, otherwise I’d happily have returned. The themed supper club is a steal at £29 per head for a four course meal. More details about the menu can be found on their website.
In the meantime, why not take a bracing walk on the beach and reward yourselves with some of the other delicious food on offer at the Beach House Cafe. You won’t be disappointed.
The Beach House Cafe
57 Bath Street
Edinburgh EH15 1HE
Tel: 0131 657 2636
Opening Hours – Mon-Sun 8:45am – 9:30pm
The Beach House Bakery
112 Portobello High Street
0131 669 9634