It’s just gone 8.40pm on a Saturday evening in August. We’re in Edinburgh helping launch a US outdoors clothing brand from the heart of the beautiful Meadows, on the outskirts of the Fringe festival.
We’re hungry, and a little tired and in need of rejuvenation, but without a reservation for dinner, resort to TripAdvisor and Googling ‘places to eat near me’. Luckily for us our Airbnb is located in a very nice area called Morningside, within easy reach of Bruntsfield Place.
It’s an upmarket side of town, Edinburgh’s elegant townhouses and well kept gardens, neatly organised into quiet rows of sleepy streets, with boutiques, restaurants and smart bars. The brief tonight for food was ‘nothing too fussy’. And for a change, no need for steak on the menu (we’ve been on a bit of a ribeye mission of late). But it’s festival season and it’s Saturday night and we haven’t booked a table yet!
Tempo Perso bubbles up to the surface of our search results, and after a quick call, they confirmed they could squeeze us in at 9pm. A table for three. No problem. Phew.
The owner himself took the call. Deep, authentic Italian accent. A good sign in itself.
The restaurant is located on a corner, the entrance lit up and confidently beckoning us in as we jump out of our Uber. We venture through the arch doorway and are met with a sea of people, bustle, the smell of sweet garlic and great decor including ceiling tiles to die for, but no free seats in sight.
The owner is clear to see, resting behind the bustling bar where his team dip and bend politely in and out carrying plates of hearty looking food.
He notes our arrival with a smile and nod, and shrugs as if to say, I know, I know, but don’t worry. It’ll be fine.
For our minimal inconvenience for the ten minute delay he offers us each a drink on the house while we wait, stood, squeezed in by the counter, glancing at the menu and peering over shoulders to admire plates of food.
Luci, Paul and I are the sharing type when we dine together. I say this as this approach isn’t for everyone, but it does add a different dimension to ordering food.
It makes for a meze or tapas approach to starters. A selection of breads, antipasti, and a half portion of pasta ragu from the mains. Tubes of al dente pasta, dressed with a thick tomato sauce oozing extra virgin olive oil and a bite of chilli with ground sausage.
In authentic Italian salumerias or Osteria a half portion of pasta before your main meat or fish course is par for the course.
In my case it was more than enough and didn’t spoil my main, a selection from the specials, rolled seabream with mussels and octopus. The fish lightly fried in breadcrumbs, the mussels fresh and succulent.
Paul went for pollo (chicken) stuffed with haggis, a great combination of dark oats and herbs, rolled inside the delicately poached breast of chicken.
Luci, a vegetarian, chose the spinach and ricotta ravioli in a butter and sage sauce with walnuts, and asked for toasted pine nuts to be added as an extra twist.
The owner paused, checked he had some in, and heartily agreed on the enhancement to his dish. I wouldn’t be surprised if Luci’s pine nuts addition becomes a permanent fixture.
The mains arrived and did not disappoint. Slowed by the weariness of a long day and the deliciousness of the fare we all took our time, savouring every bite.
Dessert menus were perused, out of duty, but we decided more cheese was required.
I retold a story of a visit to France a decade or so ago, and a visit to the village of Sauternes. Roquefort cheese is a must, accompanied by a chilled glass of sweet white wine known by the same name as the village. Once sampled together, the salty vein of blue cheese is never quite the same again. The gloopy thickness of the wine balancing the rusty kick in the soft creamy cheese.
So we asked if we could double up on blue cheese and have an Italian dessert wine to match.
The waiter wasn’t sure, but he checked and was reassured by the owner the combination was ideal.
It’s fair to say that we lost ourselves and track of time in Tempo Perso, so much so we didn’t notice the entire place empty around us. It literally lived up to its name.
We laughed, we ate, we appreciated the simplicity and perfection of authentic Italian cuisine. Prepared beautifully and served with plenty of love and very little fuss.
So much so, it has inspired a Baldhiker trip to Italy together in Spring.
Tempo Perso was Bellisimo. Highly recommend.