Shezan - going strong and welcoming diners since 1977
Shezan, meaning 'beautiful' in Urdu and Arabic, has been here for over 40 years since 1977 to be precise, and we have passed by it many times, often wondering what it’s like.
The restaurant is ideally situated at the top of Leith Walk (the official address is 25 Union Place) for pre-theatre dining before a show at the Edinburgh Playhouse or the cinema at the OMNi Centre across the road, or after shopping at the brand new St James Quarter or a full day of sightseeing if you are a tourist. The tram stops nearby on York Place and a number of buses to and from Leith and Wallyford etc. stop nearby.
As this is such a busy restaurant with a returning clientele and popularity with theatregoers, Shezan has competed for a number of awards over the years, including the British Curry Awards, the Spice awards and Curry House of the year.
And they proudly display a selection of these on the walls. Their most recent accolade was Curry Chef of the year in 2019 before Coronavirus disrupted the restaurant industry and award ceremonies.
A la carte menu
The menu has grilled and tandoori dishes, biryani, vegetable dishes, samosas and a selection of bread and two types of pakora. They also have fish & chips and a small children's menu.
Gulab jamun, kulfi, ice cream plus chocolate fudge cake and carrot cake are all available for pudding.
We had poppadoms and a pickle tray to start. Poppadom (V, VG, GF 65p each). Pickle tray (£4.95). This comes with six different ramekins of chutneys and dips which are all made in house. These are Mango chutney, Green Mint and coriander chutney, Spicy onions, Mint sauce, Chilli sauce and Tamarind sauce.
An excellent mix of flavours here, Mark picked the mint and coriander as his favourite.
Mixed kebab (GF) £6.95 - chicken tikka, seekh kebab and lamb kebab. Special mention for the seekh kebab which wasn’t overly spiced like others we have tasted so a more balanced marriage of spice and meat. The lamb was a bit dry though so needed the dip we recommend ordering a side of raita to go with this, which also goes well with biriyani or naan.
Vegetable pakora (V / VG / GF) £5.95 - dense but fluffy with a crisp coating. Not greasy at all and pleasantly spiced.
Karahi (GF) with lamb (£11.95) - flavoursome, medium spiced, tender meat topped with sliced ginger. A plentiful portion and tasty.
Masala Naan (in the background) - a spiced naan cooked in a tandoor (£4.50).
Prawn Biryani (GF) £13.95 - there’s a good kick to this biryani so Emma mixed some raita through the rice. This was another big portion that was happily scoffed at.
Tandoori paratha £3.50 - flaked bread, ideal for dipping into the biriyani sauce and scooping up the rice.
With our meal, we shared a bottle of Castelmarco Inzolia - Pinot Grigio 2018 white wine. A pale, straw colour and a sort of jam doughnut aroma (In Mr Foodie's opinion anyway!), and a light neutral - slightly acidic taste making it a wine that could probably be paired with many dishes as a result.
Gulab Jamun and vanilla ice cream £4.50
We are big fans of gulab jamun so despite being full, we made sure to order a bowl of these with vanilla ice cream, and they did not disappoint.
We also had a Pistachio kulfi for £4.99, which was light and creamy with a mild nutty taste.
Overall, our first visit to Shezan was excellent. An easy location for a couple of Glaswegians to get to with welcoming staff and delicious food delivered promptly. Highlights included the pickle selection, veggie pakora and both mains. The masala naan was a bit disappointing though as it tasted just like a plain naan to us. The only other suggestion we have is that the restaurant is brightly lit, which is good for food photography but with dimmed lights, the restaurant could be more atmospheric and thus more of a date-night location. Prices are good too for where it is, they do takeaway and can cater to dietary requirements. They also have certificates from the AA and Visit Scotland to show that they are COVID-19 compliant.
Toilet check - both male and female toilets were in good working order.
+ Big selection of homemade pickles
+ Well-executed pakora and curries
+ Good prices for central Edinburgh
+ Perfect location for dinner before the theatre or cinema or after shopping
+ Great location for bus and tram transport
- Masala naan didn't taste all that different from a regular naan
- Lighting isn't as atmospheric as it could be
25 Union Place (top of Leith Walk)
Open 7 days per week from 12 noon until 10 pm (takeaway 12 noon - 11 pm)
Steps into the restaurant. Wide door. Staff advised that they can accommodate a wheelchair (there is another door at the side of the restaurant which could be used).
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Disclaimer: we were invited to Shezan so did not pay for our meal.