I once ate some mozzarella in Rome that my partner long wishes I’d never ordered.
Ruth Mosalski of Wales Online reported “Ever since – and it was at least four years ago – I have brought this up probably once a month. It was so melt-in-the-mouth incredible that I consider it a disservice not to talk about it so frequently.
The broccoli dish I had at Medina in Aberystwyth will go in the same category. During the meal I raved about this vegetable dish so much that the rest of the table took a step back to leave me to it.
I already plan to dedicate quite a lot of time trying to copy it. But more of that later.
Medina isn’t new in Aberystwyth but its expansion is. It started off in a smaller venue on Cambrian Place.
In the time I’ve been going to Aber, its new home has variously been The Orangery and the Wiff Waff Bar but now it seems to have found its fit. Part of the problem it’s had is the size – it’s a huge space, two large rooms at the front, a big corridor and then the main room.
This latest – and hopefully final – incarnation has used the space incredibly well. A pantry come shop now lines the wide corridor and in one of the front rooms is a bookshop.
In the other, a good spread of tables, in contrasting, funky, colours.
The main room at the rear houses the bar and till, their spirits, cakes and more tables.
Medina the restaurant is the brainchild of Medina the woman.
She was born and raised in Aber and after heading to Manchester to manage restaurants there, she came home to The Orangery and also worked at Aber-institution Ultracomida.
Like all good restaurants it comes from a love of food, and the food she eats at home. Ottolenghi is an inspiration.
From the second you step inside, that mix of Mediterranean spices hits you and the food packs the same punch of warming flavours.
We started off sharing a mezze of starters. Roast peppers, delicious homemade houmous, the lightest falafel I’ve ever had were some of the dishes.
An intriguing whipped feta, a fruit compote and olives completed the mezze board.
They were joined by flatbreads delivered in a brown paper bag.
But don’t be distracted by a few quirky delivery options. As long as you know your company (I did) I think starters like this are a great way of getting to try a bit of everything.
For mains, I’d gone for the fish tagine. Chicken ballotine was the other choice served to our table.
My fish was epic, juicy and perfectly cooked with almond, saffron and cherry tomatoes to bite into the sweetness. The only complaint I can have with the whole meal was that my fish wasn’t as hot as I’d like, but given that it was served with a selection of either cold or warm sides, maybe a stronger contrast would have been too much.
The chicken – served two ways – also got full marks for both the meat but the accompaniment of aubergine and tomato stew.
But it’s the sides here that stole the show.
A sweet, curranty carrot dish, incredible paprika sweet potatoes and the broccoli were all served in share bowls.
When Medina’s was first described to me, I was told you pick your salads and then add.
I’ll admit now, I was a bit dubious.
Surely, I thought, the salad is the addition, not the main element. But these dishes are all so brilliant that degrading them to “sides” is unfair.
The broccoli was charred, served with chilli, garlic and charred lemons. It was crunchy, juicy and tasty. I think it was the best I’ve ever eaten.
In the way that her hero Ottolenghi has made his name, Medina and her team have brought vegetables to life and have done them wonders.
After such an aromatic meal, I’d gone for a plainer pudding. Affogato had been ordered but even that had a twist – the sesame brittle which was served with it was divine.
I’ve written before about how Aber is developing its name as a foodie destination.
Before, I named Ultracomida, Baravin and Gwesty Cymru. But that list has to include Agnelli’s, Pysgoty and now Medina’s. They are all food inspired by passion and places where you can taste great food which is treated with care and served with love.
And for me, that’s the best thing you can put on a plate.
Medina, 10 Market Street, Aberystwyth, SY23 1DL. 01970 358300″ here.