Photo of
September 10, 2018
Pickled octopus, pistachio purée and basil oil at Merienda. Pic: Facebook

Opened in August, Merienda restaurant has been making quite a splash in the capital.

Glowing reviews are shooting up like fireworks and the careful presentation of the dishes means that many of the reviews are illustrated with eye-catching pics.

Merienda’s chef owner is Campbell Mickel. Chef Mickel spent eighteen months in the Philippines and the Stockbridge restaurant is named after the Filipino word for snack.

In other parts of Europe, merienda is taken to mean a light meal. In Edinburgh, Merienda draws on all of these interpretations.

At the North West Circus Place restaurant, the menus are based around small plates of seasonal ingredients.

‘Mediterranean-inspired small plates of the finest artisan Scottish produce’ is how the menus are billed.

New potato and pea pressé infused with mint, pea purée and shoots.

New potato and pea pressé infused with mint, pea purée and shoots. Pic: Facebook

A veteran of several notable Edinburgh restaurants, Campbell has spent the last fourteen years running a highly successful private catering company.

Exec Chef provides boardroom dining for some of Scotland’s best known companies as well as private catering for high net worth individuals.

A little over a year ago a health scare prompted Campbell to expand his ambitions and start planning Merienda.

Merienda: ‘high end but casual’

The idea was to offer an experience that was ‘high end but casual’.

There is an argument that what many people want from a contemporary restaurant is interesting food which is sourced well, cooked thoughtfully and served in a pleasant setting by friendly, knowledgeable staff. Keeping it simple isn’t vital but avoiding fuss is.

This school of thought reckons that the days are numbered for places which provide uptight fine dining with starched tablecloths and 80 page wine lists.

Instead, there is a generation of diners that want to eat well without the fol-de-rol. If the food happens to look good on your Insta feed then so much the better.

Possible examples in Edinburgh would be Six by Nico or Fhior. It will also be interesting to see what Mark Greenaway’s new venture sets out to do.

A couple of weeks back, the chef announced that he was to close his eponymous restaurant in Edinburgh city centre and launch a venture which would ‘boldly challenge the concept of fine dining’.

Beautiful presentation

Mosaic of citrus-roasted wild trout, caviar crème, chive.

Mosaic of citrus-roasted wild trout, caviar crème, chive. Pic: Facebook

Merienda is travelling in a similar direction.

Working in the kitchen alongside Campbell is Robbie Probert. Previously at the Michelin-starred 21212, Robbie has spent many a year manning the pans in top French restaurants.

The menus change on a monthly basis and each dish is beautifully presented.

As we have pointed out many a time, the 5pm Dining blog doesn’t do reviews. What we will happily say is that the dishes at Merienda are designed to taste as good as they look. From temperature to texture and from visual appeal to the layers of flavour, every aspect of each dish has been carefully considered.

We wish Merienda every success.

Chicken saltimbocca, prosciutto and sage, chicken and wine juice.

Chicken saltimbocca, prosciutto and sage, chicken and wine juice.