I remember Medina from when she worked in UltraComida long ago, and six months after we visited her first in Cambrian Place, she has moved to the old Talbot / Orangery site in Market Street.
We were very keen to see if the food and cheery ambience could survive the move from one of the smallest premises in town to one of the largest.
The front has been cleaned up nicely whilst retaining the character.
I was more worried about the inside – many have struggled to fill this cavernous space.
And wisely, they choose not to fill the space.
They could fit twice the tables in here, but the kitchen wouldn’t be able to cope, so they’ve wisely chosen to leave it under-utilised.
The smaller front room is currently a second hand bookshop, the larger room retains its light and bright welcome. There is also a separate side room with six or eight more tables, ideal for a quieter lunch or coffee and cake.
The only problem with old Medina was that you couldn’t book for lunch, and unfortunately this is still the case.
It’s still full, so they must know what they’re doing, and tables are only vacant for seconds.
The menu remains perfectly pitched for Aber – plenty of salads and vegetables, interesting meats, good drinks list.
Medina has clearly read her Yotam Ottolenghi cookbooks and this Mediterranean style works just as well in the light, airy rooms.
The prices have nudged up slightly too, but remain very friendly.
Nibbles, dips, salads and mezze start around £4, mains start at £8, desserts are from £4.
This combines a meat or veggie main – such as spiced chicken, whitebait or halloumi – with a choice of two of the salads.
£13.50 for lunch with a glass of wine is very fair for interesting food cooked from scratch on site.
We were happily ordered the lamb koftas, cocas and chicken bastille.
When my lamb koftas arrived, I admit I was a little disappointed.
There seemed too much salad, not enough lamb.
However, the salad is far tastier, and more filling, than that frequently abused foodstuff delivers.
The koftas were juicy and full of lamby flavour. I was pleasingly full, and smug that the meal had a better meat/veg ratio than I am used to.
Cocas are little Catalan pizzas, and Sarah enjoyed her spinach, tomato & goats cheese cocas , although I thought they looked a little stingy with the filling.
Again, this wasn’t quite right as the filling goes down deeper.
There was plenty of beetroot (each to their own) but the grilled aubergine and feta salad was just my sort of thing.
Finally, Bethan had chicken bastilles (Moroccan pie).
These were tasty, crispy bundles of subtly-spiced chicken and almonds (and got us thinking that we could do that with a bit of filo pastry).
She enjoyed the char-grilled broccoli and aubergine salads.
We also had cauliflower fritters with lime yoghurt (£5.50) and a Borek (£5.50)
The fritters were the only disappointment of the meal – they should be crispy, but were under-cooked, soft and a little greasy. Lime yoghurt wasn’t very limey either.
Tasty, mind, and I enjoyed seeing how they did them.
The Borek (not Borat) was a very posh pie.
Filo pastry with a spinach and feta filling, served with a very good (and easy) red pepper and tomato sauce.
I’ve had plenty of this sort of thing in Greece, and I loved it.
We tried the house red and white, and both were just right.
The Fordham American IPA was excellent – full of fruit and hops.
In fact, they have one of the best bottled beer and cider ranges in town, plus an extensive range of teas, the usual coffees and fruit drinks.
We couldn’t manage puddings at the time, but that didn’t mean we were going to miss out, so we had a selection of their cakes to take away.
These were simply divine.
The chocolate mouse cake was rich and gooey, the apple tart needed no dairy to soften it, and the baklava was rich and crispy.
Priced between £2 and £3 for a generous slice, I’ll be calling in here again. These are baked on site too and it really shows.
So – Medina is now a major player in the Aberystwyth food scene.
The new location has shed the claustrophobia, and gives them space to grow into if they wish.
It’s a great location for brek, lunch or dinner, or a coffee and cake anytime in between.
Just don’t annoy your fellow diners by taking ages to order like this chap.
I think the food is slightly more adventurous than Med Delight or Casablanca – maybe a little lighter and healthier, too.
There are plenty of tempting salads to choose from – and how often do you get to say that?
I urge you to go, but get there either before or after the 12.30 rush.
Telephone: (01970) 358300
Address: 14 Cambrian Place, Aberystwyth SY23 1NT