This week we reached out to friends to recommend a pizza that we might not know about, and while we were familiar with most of the responses, friend and fellow food blogger Lunchquest gave us a spot we hadn't thought of. Ransacked Black Oven is in the premises that used to be a pretty good pizzeria - WildManWood, and they've kept pizza on the menu, albeit under the guise of 'Lebanese Pizza'. Intrigued and hungry, we headed to the south side of town.
Ransacked Black Oven is on a little side street, on the precipice between the Jakey-haven Nicolson Square and the University of Edinburgh campus. Sitting outside guarantees some premium people watching, and while most of the students are off on their summer jollies we did have a burly tracksuit clad man storm past, grabbing an empty ashtray from the table next to us. Must be a collector.
The place operates a Nando's style service if you sit outside; you pay up front, grab a seat and the food is brought to you. We're not against this and it means you can leave hassle-free at the end of your meal.
With the menu in front of us it's clear there is a focus on Persian street food with salads, wraps and flatbreads dominating the offerings. The 'Lebanese Pizza' section is small but gives 8 options, some vegan friendly (a big focus throughout the menu), some with cheese and some with meat, but oddly none with both.
There's an option for mozzarella, tomato and basil (£7.50) which fits the profile of our go-to Margherita and we decided to go for a pizza topped with diced goat, pomegranate molasses, pine nuts and rocket (£8.50). We also got some 'dirty dough balls' filled with mozzarella and anchovies which were crazy good and a gram flour roti which was fairly poor but only costed a couple of quid so we weren't too bothered. We drank a house lager and a lemon and mint slushy, both which were perfectly fine.
The trip to the toilets at Ransacked Black Oven deserve a special mention, for both hilarity and ridiculousness. First you descend stairs and enter a stockroom/prep kitchen. At this point you'll immediately think you've gone the wrong way, but there's a small piece of paper blue-tacked to a cupboard door to reassure you to wander past all the fresh produce and food tins. In the next room there's two doors, both proudly proclaiming it doesn't matter which toilet you use - how very 2018. It is however, scrawled under one sign 'urinals' in hand written chalk to help the less millennial customer work out where to go. Immediately inside the door, you're greeted by a small stool for no apparent reason - perhaps it's there for the mentally exhausted to take a breather. There's no natural light in these loos, there's not even a normal light. Instead your piss is guided by a giant UV light, instantly transporting you to a German nightclub. Last, but by no means least, the soap in the sink is attached to a pole which you have no other option but to wank off in order to clean your hands. We are fans of anything that makes us laugh, and this toilet trip certainly did, so it's a yes from us.
Our pal at Lunchquest did warn us the pizza was less of a pizza and more of a cheesy flatbread. For our Margherita(ish) pizza he hit the nail on the head. There wasn't a sauce but rather diced fresh tomato, with generous amounts of mozzarella and basil. The base was crispy and a little charred with a chewy, doughy centre. Although it looked like pizza from a kid's birthday party it tasted much better; the fresh ingredients shining alongside gooey, indulgent cheese. We really enjoyed this and would definitely get again.
The second pizza was a really exciting combination of flavours. It was our first time trying goat and it's unsurprisingly lamb-like in taste, with rich depth and complexity. Combining this with the zingy pomegranate molasses and pine nuts worked amazingly. The problem here was dryness. It's a very bold claim to call something a pizza that has no cheese or sauce and there was just too many dry ingredients together here. This pizza would have really benefitted from a soft cheese like a ricotta to fix the textural issues. With jaws beginning to ache from excessive chewing, we ended up leaving our crusts - a Slice or Die first.
As a pizza blog it's a little tough to assess Ransacked Black Oven, as their offerings are difficult to call pizzas. For what it's worth, we did enjoy our trip to the restaurant and for a total of £35 including tip, it's fairly decent value too.
They are definitely children of the earth here, with tons of vegetarian, vegan, gluten free options and they use bamboo straws in their drinks. We'd recommend Ransacked Black Oven if you share such ethically concerns, or just if you're looking for something a bit different.