SURROUNDED by the newly developed hotels and swanky cocktail bars of Langstane Place, the glass-fronted Eljo’s couldn’t be in a more fitting location.
Through the tapas restaurant’s windows, where modern and rustic is combined to perfection, the vibrant artwork and the intimate feel of the petite restaurant lured myself and a group of friends off the cold street.
And as we came through the door, the strong spicy aromas made it clear that my better half and I had found the right restaurant to brighten up the drab Friday night.
Katy and I decided to share a spicy chicken Moroccan kebab, patatas bravas, deep-fried squid rings, fresh bread with oil and balsamic, a combination of chorizo, asparagus wrapped in serrano ham and goats cheese smothered with balsamic vinegar and sweet chilli sauce.
When they arrived in under 15 minutes, we found the four chunks of goats cheese creamy and smooth and the combination of balsamic and sweet chilli sauce was heavenly.
The slabs of chorizo had a delicious, slightly chargrilled flavour and were not overly heavy.
While I’m not a huge fan of squid rings, Katy found them fresh-tasting and light.
My favourite Spanish dish is normally patatas bravas however I found Eljo’s version to be dry, a little cold when delivered and rather bland.
The bread was also a little disappointing as, while it was fresh, it was like a white pan loaf roughly sliced – nothing special.
While the asparagus was blanched well and the meat around it had a pleasant crispy consistency, more ham would have been welcome.
However the warm kicks of the cumin and ginger on the chicken kebab put any memories of blandness behind us.
While we were stuffing our faces, our friends, couple Charlotte and Gordon, were also tucking in.
Gordon had driven all the way up from Edinburgh and was ravenous so the pair also decided not to hold back.
They went for beef meatballs, chicken with sherry, orange, thyme and garlic, pan-fried mushrooms with garlic, white wine and parsley and chicken and vegetable paella.
They found that the mushrooms were cooked to perfection with a strong garlic tang.
The meatballs too – which were a nice soft consistency and with a strong meaty flavour – went down a treat.
The paella topped with asparagus was filling but not overly so and was piping hot.
The chicken dish tasted like it had been glazed in honey, and while some of the other flavours were absent, it was tasty nonetheless.
It all helped bring a little bit of warmth to our weekend.