It’s always interesting to get a reader recommendation about restaurants, so when we received a letter about Hestia in Crookes I was despatched to try it out.
The Mediterranean restaurant is run by the Tabani family.
Dad Khalid was on kitchen duties when we visited (they also have a chef) and his daughter Natasha, who was waiting on tables, explained that their interest in the region’s food came about as a sort of family compromise.
Khalid cooked Pakistani food his mum had taught him and Natasha’s mum cooked English food.
They decided the flavours of the eastern Mediterranean, which are heavily influenced by Middle Eastern cuisine, were a kind of halfway house between the two.
The food is wide-ranging – it features meat, fish, chicken and veggie options – and every so often they have a night devoted to one country’s food. The next is a Turkish night tomorrow, Friday.
The restaurant looks fairly understated but the walls are filled at the moment with the very striking work of local artist John Wilsher, who has produced fascinating portraits of famous jazz artists.
Near the counter a beautiful view of Venice was painted by Natasha’s grandad, Kenneth Harris, who was a teacher at Tapton School.
The menu changes regularly, plus there are daily specials on a blackboard.
When we visited the menu of the day was a limited choice one offering two courses for £9.95 or three for £11.95.
Customers can bring their own wine with no corkage charged, so it could be a reasonable night out.
We decided to mix and match a bit and try some dishes off the menu and some specials, which proved a rather more expensive option.
Service is very friendly – Khalid popped out several times to see that we were enjoying our food – but don’t go if you’re in a hurry, if our evening was typical.
There was a hold-up with the starters and we got a basket of flatbread and an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip while we waited.
Our starters were off the set menu. I tried some fried aubergine balls and my friend Linda had the cod goujons.
Both were delicious.
The aubergine was lightly spiced and cooked with tomato until soft and then rolled in breadcrumbs and fried.
The goujons were beautifully cooked in a light batter.
For the main course, Linda went for the lamb tagine.
Our correspondent had recommended salmon chermoula as “practically worth the booking by itself” so I ordered it fromthe specials.
It didn’t live up to that billing but was very tasty.
The fish is marinaded in a paste of spices and coriander and mine had been slightly charred around the edges, which added to the interest.
It was served with some nice spiced rice and salad.
Linda’s lamb tagine, a classic Middle Eastern stew, was lovely because such care had been taken with the meat, which fell apart.
She loved the couscous that was studded with apricots and almonds.
We finished off with nice coffee and delicious chocolate brownie sprinkled with pistachios, a great idea.
Our bill came to £46.75.
Hestia is at 190-192 Northfield Road, Crookes. Telephone 268 3131.