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Zanzero, Edinburgh



The slogan is slow food served quickly. Newly opened in Stockbridge, the decor is uncompromisingly modern—plenty of lime green and purple. The menu is short but tempting. Olives and caper-berries, bread, pasta salsiccia, and a slow-braised lamb shank from the list of weekly specials, all shared, made a satisfying lunch for two. £35 in total including sparkling water and coffees.

For starters, generous portion of good, black and green, olives, with plently of caper berries, to whet the appetite. Slight apprehension, as the adjacent table has a party with four under-fours, and a couple of couples. This could become noisy and distracting.

The pasta arrives in a large shallow dished plate, intended for one, but, we hope, sufficient for two. The dish is hot, the pasta bow-ties coated in cream, flecked red with chilli, and topped with slivers of parmesan. A smaller dish of normal size for one, provided to facilitate sharing, is disappointingly cold. A shriek from the next table is piercing; they are coping with the arrival of four smoothies.

Once shared, the pasta portion looks smaller; once tasted, I regret the decision to share. The cream and cheese sauce is just right: not too thick, not too thin; not over-poweringly cheesy, but not bland; not too much, nor too little—just right. The sausage is outstanding house-made from tender pork, lightly salted with a hint of fennel; delicious! The chilli gives a subtle zing. Why share this with anyone?

Pasta has also arrived at the next table. Silence reigns.

We need bread to mop up every last trace of sauce from our plates. We have to wait as this is ciabatta, freshly baked. It comes with a dish of olive oil, in which sits a slice of lemon, for dipping. Once our pasta plates are wiped-clean, it is tempting to keep dipping. After a brief struggle, we resist: we will need some bread for the lamb.

Pommes dauphinoise—potatoes, sliced and baked in cream with a cheese gratin— are one of my few weaknesses. The lamb shank, meaty and moist, came with braised florence fennel (coincidentally another weakness—this blog is full of them), and pommes dauphinoise, in another of the large dished plates intended for one. We shared it using two normal bowls, and had two servings each—an elegant sufficiency.

The fennel was braised with tomato and pancetta: a robust combination to match the complex flavours of the meat; the delicate fennel flavour somewhat overpowered in this rich setting, but contributing nonetheless. The meat was tasty, soft and tender; perfectly cooked to produce the complex flavours and gelatines that make this dish. Most of it fell from the bone. Nevertheless, the bone had to be chewed, and the marrow delicately extracted, so no scrap of flavour was wasted.

Uncontrolled squeals of ecstatic delight, from the next table, probably signalled the arrival of the final course from the children's menu: ice cream—surely ice cream is fast food? Satisfied with our slower, grown-up pleasures, we had no need to order "some of what she's having".
We settled for espresso, then left, replete.

It's slow food, served quickly. It was just what we needed.

Peploes, Dublin


I had a flight to catch, so had time for only starter and dessert.

Fois gras on toasted brioche followed by tarte au citron.

With a glass of Alsatian wine; Domaine Dussourt Reisling—divine.

16 St. Stephen's Green,
Dublin 2,
+353 (0)1 676-3144