I’d been seeing bits about Merienda on social media for a good while before I visited and I was intrigued. The perception I got was of the finest of fine dining restaurants and that it would be expensive. We arrived on a Saturday for a leisurely lunch and I was surprised and pleased to discover that it’s pretty informal – no table cloths or stiff service – and it wasn’t nearly as expensive as I’d thought either.
Merienda is a small plates restaurant located in Stockbridge. The dishes are all Mediterranean inspired and the idea is you select the ones you want to create a bit of a tasting menu – or posh tapas.
As you can see we tried lots of dishes, I’d say the amount we had would be about the average though, and dishes are nearly all in the £7-£8 range.
I’ll take you through them all, from left to right.
Cauliflower Beignets with Spinach Emulsion & Aged Parmesan – these little fritters were tasty and the spinach emulsion helped to keep things fresh – the parmesan acted like a seasoning.
Seared Scottish Asparagus, Lemon & Honey Emulsion – the simplest of dishes but I would never have thought of putting honey with asparagus, but I was completely won over and have since made a similar dressing at home.
Seaweed Bark Hot Smoked Salmon, Avocado Emulsion, Granny Smith Apple – I am slowly becoming a fan of hot smoked salmon and this one was particularly good with a noticeable but still delicate flavour, I absolutely loved the accompaniment of Granny Smith apple with it.
We journeyed on with Seared Scallops, Chorizo in Red Wine & Pea Puree – this one was a real nod to some of the tapas dishes I’ve enjoyed. Alex has a bit of a reaction to chorizo so I got to enjoy most of it.
Aberdeen Angus Carpaccio, Aged Pecorino & Vinaigrette Raffaelli – the meat is frozen and then sliced to get the most delicate wafers of rich beef. The vinaigrette is one the chef learned in his early days working at an Italian restaurant and it went really well – it’s made with lots of ingredients but we did manage to pick out the Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce in there.
Whipped Feta, Toasted Salted Pecans, Roast Beetroot & Broad Beans – this dish looked so simple but was actually pretty technical and involved a thermamix and wine – I would never have guessed. One of my favourites from our tasting.
Garlic Crusted Sole Fillet, Spinach, Arran Mustard Sauce – this one reminded me of the classic Sole Veronique, the fish was beautifully cooked and the sauce was punchy with plenty of mustard.
Tobermory Oak Smoked Trout, Scorched Cucumber & Gel, Creme Fraiche & Dill Powder – a delicate dish with a dramatic presentation which was a lot of fun.
Red Wine Braised Ayrshire Pork Belly, Cannellini Bean & Shallot Puree – I absolutely love pork belly and it didn’t disappoint, melt in the mouth and the beans and gravy gave it that comfort food feel.
Herb Crusted Biggar Lamb, Wild Garlic – I’ve never tasted lamb this soft and was surprised to discover it had been cooked in a water bath. I could have eaten a whole rack of these with a nice glass of red.
Tarte Tatin with Cinnamon Scented Sauce Anglaise – onto desserts and Alex raved about this one, I initially wasn’t sure because of the cinnamon but it was subtle enough and didn’t overpower the dish.
Burnt Cheesecake, Caramel Grand Marnier Mandarins – there was nothing particular wrong with this but it was probably my least favourite of the day, there’s something about the texture of cheesecake with something watery that I just don’t like. I’m sure it’s a personal thing.
We loved Merienda, in particular the informal relaxed style of dining and the amount of different dishes you can try. With a menu that changes monthly, you’re never going to get bored. I urge you to visit and give it a try, it’s a lovely way to enjoy fine dining standard food.