It was with great enthusiasm that I read of ’s enticing January offer, where you can come and dine in one of Edinburgh’s finest restaurants, and once you’re done you can PAY WHAT YOU WANT for the food! It took little persuasion to sign-up our St Fillan’s chums and the freshly returned MJ for this merry little enterprise.
Now, I’ve reviewed this place before, when I visited a couple of months ago, so I’ll keep my contribution fairly brief, today. This visit only served to reinforce my first impressions of the place, and my scores for that review apply equally to this visit.
On this occasion, once we’d spooned down the lovely pea espuma amuse bouche, I started with a parsnip veloute with parsnip chips. Packed with flavour, and a beautiful range of textures, it was completely satisfying.
My main course of hake, accompaniment with a lovely foam topped oyster was perfectly cooked, a visual treat, and completely lovely.
Of the other dishes that appeared round the table, MJ certainly drew envious eyes with both of her courses, and all of the desserts were incredibly bonnie. My cheese board was epic and I took great pleasure in wolfing it down. I had to try a little of Susie’s chocolate fondant, of course, merely for quality control purposes. I can confirm that it was as spectacular as ever.
For me, ’s place is something special. From the stylish setting, to Nicola and her excellent team managing front of house, to the magical dishes that emerge from Mark’s brain and make their way to your table, it’s all pure quality. I was a little baffled by the background music, I have to admit, but that’s the only tiny quibble with what was an exceptionally enjoyable overall experience.
I make no disguise about how I feel regarding overly pretentious food. So it was with a tentative air that I wandered up to ’s restaurant on Picardy Place, just my second evening back in Edinburgh after a longish sojourn to Alabama for the holidays. I was directed first upstairs to the bar where I met B and passed on American presents and then we met our friends downstairs in the restaurant, which is tucked away behind heavy black curtains. The place itself is simple and elegant. I absolutely love the simplicity of the lighting on the stone walls and the ambiance of the place was friendly and classic.
When everyone arrived we perused the menu and word came from the chef that we could order from the market menu after hours and even mix and match with the January promo of ‘pay what you think it’s worth’ deal. We were given pea espuma amuse bouches, which was a bit too rich for me, but the truly sweet tastes of the pea really came through.
But, on to dinner! After much deliberation, I decided to go with the fillet of red mullet with dill, cucumber, prawn ball with a seafood broth. It came out beautifully. The fish was deliciously crisp on one side and didn’t turn soft or gooey after I poured over the broth. Prawn balls have never been something I have liked, so I ended up picking at it and not really eating it. But this dish was lovely and would be a nice main course with a side of the silky mash they serve.
For my main I opted for the lamb. Now, this is where I must give uninhibited praise to Chef Greenaway and his staff. The dish I ordered was fantastic. It was an excellent example of a fine product that was rendered with care. There was no over the top presentation (though it was beautifully plated and served), and there were no tricks of foams and veloutes to take my attention away from the fact that my three cuts and styles of lamb were excellent. The chop was perfectly pink while the belly piece was tender and flavoursome, but what was most intriguing was the last bit that I first thought was some sort of bone marrow dish in the dim light, but soon found it was an almost sausagey spiced mix of lamb wrapped in Parma ham, I believe. And the mix of basil sauce with a jus was spot on. I wish I had a copy of the menu so I could go back over it and re-live my order. It was that good.
I forwent dessert, but each one that arrived was a work of art, and judging by the clean plates, they tasted as good as they looked. One impressive element was the cheese plate. Though they didn’t roll out a cheese trolley like they do at Castle Terrace, I think the overall array of cheeses and presentation of the tray was better than that at CT. That being said, I think my experience at ’s restaurant overshadowed that of CT and The Mulroy by leaps and bounds, and I would happily return, again and again.
Not to mention that the bar upstairs is now one of my favourites in the city.
MJ scores Mark Greenaway:
4.5/5 for food
5/5 for presentation
4.5/5 for service
4.5/5 for setting
giving an overall 18.5/20
Today’s questers were: Miriam, Mary, Susie, Tracey, Blythe
We ate: scallops, red mullet, parsnip veloute, lamb, hake, skate wings, pork belly, broken lemon tart, chocolate fondant, cheese board, parfait.
We drank: rose wine, water
We wore: the smiles of ladies soon to be luxuriating on a beach in Thailand (3); tremendous sheepy sheep jumper; black, grey and red tie by www.tieclub.co.uk
Total bill: Well, we paid what we wanted