Blythe’s Verdict
The cornerstone of the Timberyard’s menu is seasonality and local sourcing. To give our review a little more of a rounded feel, and to illustrate the menu is indeed ever-changing, we decided to visit on a couple of occasions, before delivering our verdict.

On our first visit, Timberyard was top of the list of “hot new places” in Edinburgh, closely pursued by the Galvins’ twin-pronged attack at the Caledonian Hotel, and the Gardener’s Cottage, although the latter was probably just about reaching the point where it was bedded-in.

We’d heard things ranging from the good to the spectacular, since its opening, just a few short weeks previously. So, it was with considerable relish that we pushed open their massive door and entered the overhauled premises on which Lawson’s Timberyard used to stand.



I had a small matter to attend to, upon arrival, namely paying the deposit for my next visit, which was to be with a larger group of folks. This was handled swiftly, then it was on with today’s show.

The menus (both the set and the a la carte) are structured across four courses, with “bites”, starters, mains and desserts. MJ opted for a little mix and match across the two menus, while I sampled three dishes from the daily set menu.

Following a raw beef starter, MJ opted for a main of mackerel with fennel and orange salad. I opted for a “bite” of crowdie, beetroot and seeds, then a starter of potato and fennel salad with poached duck egg yolk, and a main of slow roast lamb.

I should add that there wasn’t a soup in sight, which made me sad, as the prospect of fresh, locally sourced ingredients fashioned into hearty broths always strikes me as spectacularly appealing. But it wasn’t a direction that they’re currently exploring. I was to find soup on the agenda on my second visit, though, so I was soon much happier.

Beetroot, seeds and crowdie

First courses promptly arrived, and looked quite bonnie. The combination of my beetroot, seeds and crowdie worked nicely. MJ’s beef looked good, too. These were pleasing openers that hinted at impressive things to come.


Hot potato salad with duck egg yolk

The next course was the undoubted highlight. The dish was incredibly simple, with hot Heritage potatoes, served with some fennel fronds, and a poached duck egg yolk. The potatoes were incredibly good, and the seasoning on the dish was expertly judged. The fennel fronds brought something that was a degree too subtle for me, but that did not detract from the dish being an absolute winner. It was pretty generously sized portion, too.

The meal was heading on a really pleasing upward curve. Sadly, the main courses didn’t quite manage to continue that. The lamb was beautifully tender, but was rather dry, a fact that was less than alleviated by the crumble crust, that brought interesting sweetness and texture, but further dryness. The mash was excellent, and the gravy satisfying, but the dish lent itself to unfavourable comparison with recent lamb dishes that we’d both sampled.

They were just at the start of their journey with this place, though, so expecting perfection from the get-go was somewhat unrealistic. They are looking to define what their signature dishes will be. That potato salad is an absolute definite, and others will arrive, in their own good time.


As mentioned, my second visit involved soup, of the caramelized onion and beer variety. Sadly, over the course of my visits, this was one of the weakest dishes, as the onions were quite unevenly cooked, and although there was good bitterness from the beer, the sweetness of the onion didn’t come through strongly enough.

My “bite” course that preceded this was very good, though, as cured Pollock, radish and purslane were elegantly combined for a lovely introduction to the dining experience. It illustrated very well that their strength lies with simple dishes that showcase their excellent, sustainable ingredients.

The main of venison was the subject of a little confusion, as they had venison items on both the set and a la carte menus, that day. I was delivered the “wrong” dish, but it was a simple enough mistake to have made, on both our parts. We were charged at the set menu price for the more expensive a la carte dish that was delivered, which was very magnanimous of them.

The dish was very good, but lacked a wow factor, for me. It was a good, honest plate of grub, but lacked an element to elevate it beyond that.

Across all visits, the bread was possibly the standout item, and a model of consistency. It really is first class.

So the Timberyard was impressive. I look forward to our next visit, muchly. By that time, things will be on a surer footing, and the exceptional quality shown in some of the dishes will have hopefully permeated across the whole of the menu. They’re doing a roaring trade from their smart and airy premises, so it’s a case of “book early to avoid disappointment”. I look forward to the place going from strength to strength over the coming months and years.

MJ’s Verdict
Oh Timberyard. You are the cooler sleeker older brother of the uber-hipster-esque Brewlab. Not that I disapprove, on the contrary, I now know where to go and take my cool and discerning friends for a feast of local ingredients served well and without the palpable pretension that I was afraid would come with the look.

When we arrived, we were quickly seated and I liked the addition of blankets in case we got a bit chilly. The waitress quickly brought out some tiny homemade bread slices in a small tin, one of the many touches that add up to a nice and thoughtful experience, and it was nicely cooked with a hint of the wheat and very fresh.


Raw beef goodness

We decided to mix and match some of the menu items and when my raw beef with sea salt arrived, it was nice, but sadly, the beef itself didn’t hold a massive amount of flavour, which is something I come across too often in this country. We have some of the best beef anywhere, why can’t we make the most of it?

After our starters came and went, the mains arrived and I had envy. I almost always have envy when I have fish and Blythe has a meaty dish. It should teach me to order red meat more.

The hot potato salad was a highlight. It was simple, well seasoned, and the duck yolk really gave it a creaminess that drew all the elements together perfectly. I could eat that as my whole meal.


Mackerel with fennel and orange

My fish was nicely cooked and worked well with the fennel and orange, but it wasn’t to my taste (this is not to say it wasn’t well judged). That being said, the menu changes often to suit what is fresh and available, so this dish may not even be an option anymore.

Which gives me even more reason to go back and give it a go…that and I know from my proximity in a bookshop, that their cooking smells delicious on a daily basis, and I really want to give whatever it is they are smoking a go.

MJ scores Timberyard
4/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for service
4.5/5 for setting
giving an overall 16/20

Blythe scores Timberyard
4/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for service
4.5/5 for setting
giving an overall 16/20

Today’s questers were: MJ, Blythe

We ate: beetroot, seeds, crowdie; raw scotch beef, wood sorrel, pickled cucumber; potato and fennel salad with duck egg yolk; slow roast lamb, mustard mash; mackerel, fennel and orange. (Visit two, I ate: cured Pollock with radish and purslane; onion and beer broth; venison with red cabbage and parsnip.)

We drank: water

We wore: sparkly pony, pinstripes

Total bill: £31.50

Square Meal

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Written by BKR