It’s always good to welcome a new place in to the Edinburgh lunch and dining fold, particularly when it has the commendable mission statement that The Pantry, newly opened on North West Circus Place, does.
Seeking to showcase the best of the country’s produce in the heart of the city, it opened its doors on Saturday, with its formal launch taking place next week. It already seems to be packing in a nicely eclectic crowd of lunchers, and will be open for evening service, too.
Joining me for lunch, today, was renaissance woman Frances, a first time quester. As well as talking knowledgeably on wine (her profession), art and fitba (her passions), she’s in the midst of a fine piece of charity work, which entails staying off the sauce for all of December. This is no mean feat at the best of times, far less when one’s work life entails training folks in the art of the sommelier. You can sponsor her efforts, in aid of an epilepsy charity that’s close to her heart, at: http://www.justgiving.com/DryDecember
We sat at a table at the back of the main dining space, which had smart cushions made from tweed jacket off-cuts, along the banquette seat. The rest of the space was very white and minimalist. This felt alright on what was a sunny day, but some warmer touches will be needed to have the space feeling more welcoming for the winter months.
The menu offers a range of dishes to suit diverse lunchtime needs. I did enjoy the “snacks” and “not snacks” idea, to describe their smaller and larger dishes. The menu is very well written, with each dish sounding well thought out, and showcasing fresh combinations.
The soup of caramelized swede hooked me straight away. Frances liked the sounds of the “stoup”, a stew/soup of fish, smoked tomato and paprika. She followed this with sausages from Bower, the local butcher, while I opted for the burger and chips.
Soup/stoup arrived promptly and looked neat and wholesome. I had mild food envy, but my soup proved very good, so I was content enough. The soup had a nicely restrained sweetness, and the texture was very well judged.
The burger fell somewhat in to the trap of being rather too lean, so didn’t have quite the oozing moisture I’d have liked. What it did have, though, was a really good meaty flavour, so it retained a strong appeal. The bun could use a little work, as it somewhat disintegrated, making it more of a knife-and-fork beast.
The accompanying chips were as good as I’ve been served in a while. They were of the skin-on, chunky variety, combining excellent exterior crunch with lovely fluffy interior softness.
The Bower sausages and mash hit the spot for Frances. The mash could have used a little more generous seasoning, but the dish was a winning winter warmer.
So overall, The Pantry is a really welcome new addition. They’re still in their infancy, so in time they’ll make their house more of a home, but they’re starting from a really nice level, with welcoming staff, a well crafted menu, and a good, relaxed feel to the place. They have lots of nice presentational details, too, like little milk churn jugs. I look forward to further visits to the place, which will be frequent and often.
Blythe scores The Pantry
4/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for setting
4/5 for service
giving an overall 15.5/20
Today’s questers were: Frances, Blythe
We ate: soup, “stoup”, burger, sausages
We drank: water, coffees, tea
We wore: smart black dress, smart black shoes
Total bill: £28