This Eastern European  bar and grill is hidden away in a Augusta Place in the beautiful Warwickshire town of Royal Leamington Spa, but it is certainly worth finding it out for a lunchtime or an evening meal.  I went there yesterday lunchtime, attracted by the very different menu it offered and clearly displayed on the exterior of an adapted Regency building. Although principally Turkish in style, they also offer a range of Greek dishes such as  moussaka and Greek salads to complement a range of mezze platters, stuffed vine leaves, Adana Kofte (minced lamb)  and Kuzu  Pirzola (lamb chops).

I was looking for a fairly light lunch and Elma offers a limited lunchtime menu made up of six or so starters, a similar range of sharing platters and an ‘express lunch’ such as salads, stews and moussakas’, both meat and vegetarian. The wine menu is extensive; with all the well know wines from around the world, in addition to a few Greek and Turkish speciality wines.

I opted to share a mixed Mediterranean mezze with my eating partner and although when it arrived it seemed quite sparse in quantity, it turned out to be plenty for two persons. We did take a side order of Garlic Bread to add to the slice of bread that accompanied the mezze and I was glad that we did, as many of the mezze dishes are dips or spreads that are best eaten on bread. In all the mezze consisted of a selection of humus, tzatziki, borek, falafel, haloumi and feta cheese, beetroot dip, and sucuk. Everything was fresh and delicious except the two little falafels that were hard and fairly tasteless. As for the garlic bread, it was large, succulent and soft and an ideal accompaniment to the mezze variety.  Washed down with a good bottle of Italian Pinot Grigio (hardly Eastern European, as it is bottled in Trento in Northern Italy), the menu choice satisfied the taste buds and was a satisfying early lunch.

I was tempted by an Italian ice cream to finish off my meal, but sadly it was more ice than cream and I had to crunch my way through it. Even the Italians would have been embarrassed serving this in their name. Nevertheless, Elma provided a good lunchtime experience and I would now like to try its evening menu. The atmosphere in the restaurant seems ideally suited for a romantic evening meal with your lover – intimate dark corners with low lights and exotic smells. The waiter was discreet and efficient and deserved my generous tip, which was added to a final bill of £42, including wine and water. I will definitely return and recommend that you seek it out if you are ever in Royal Leamington Spa.  
Website: - http://www.elmaleamington.com


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