It’s sometimes rather lovely to have your comfortable assumptions blown clean out of the water, of an evening. Tonight was such an occasion, as when I entered Zucca I had two views in my head that were about to be challenged: firstly, that The Bonham serves the best risotto in Edinburgh; and secondly, that Domenico’s and Piatto Verde share the crown as the best places for Italian food in Edinburgh.
Zucca is the restaurant attached to the Lyceum Theatre. It looks quiet and unassuming as you enter, and has room for a good portion of the evening’s audience, should they choose to dine there, for either a pre or post theatre nosh.
It’s not the bonniest place I’ve ever been in, but I was warmly welcomed and quickly shown to a nice table. I had two menus to choose from, with an excellent array on a set menu, offering three courses for £17.95, as well as a full a la carte.
I could have eaten any or all of the items, so put myself in the hands of my excellent waiter. He recommended the scallops to start, with their signature squash and sage risotto to follow.
The starter arrived swiftly and looked simple and elegant. The scallops were quite small, but all the sweeter for it. Further sweetness came from the tomatoes on which the scallops sat, but bitterness from the radicchio leaves balanced things beautifully. It was a completely wonderful dish.
The risotto that followed was even better. Put simply, it was the best plate of risotto I’ve eaten in Edinburgh. Topped with lovely shavings of parmegiano reggiano, it was packed with butternut and sage goodness, wonderfully moist, with perfectly cooked rice. It was something very special, indeed.
I then indulged in a lovely cheese board, matched with a good ruby port. The espresso, which followed, was something of low-point, but when I shared this opinion with the waiter, he asked if they could have another go at it. The second attempt was decidedly better, so well done them.
I think it’s fair to say that I was extremely impressed with Zucca. I’ve actually had bookings here, on a couple of occasions in the past, but had to cancel, for one reason or another. I curse those missed opportunities. This place is right up there as one of the best Italians in the city. I’ll be back soon, and I’ll be back often.
Update – August 2013
Sadly, on a couple of return visits, things didn’t pan out quite so well, which is a shame. They’re capable of real excellence, though, so remain well worth a visit.[BKR]
Blythe scores Zucca
5/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
3/5 for setting
4.5/5 for service
giving an overall 16.5/20
Today’s quester was: Blythe
I ate: scallops, risotto, cheese
I drank: water, white wine, port, espresso
Total bill: £40