On the premises previously occupied by Black Bo’s, Blackfriars has quietly launched itself on the Edinburgh restaurant and bar scene. It has been building an interested following, with a growing reputation for its small menu of locally sourced dishes.
Robbie and Patrick joined for this quest, and as we sat and contemplated their menu, we had a fair degree of discussion, as the dishes all sounded rather impressive.
Eventually, my compadres both opted for the ribeye steak, with Robbie starting with the Blackfriars own black pudding, smoked tomato and fried egg starter, which I also had, while Patrick chose the courgette and leek soup. For main I went with the hake and razor clams, with salt hake fritters.
Throughout, the waitresses kept things moving along, with a bright and breezy approach to service. It was pitched very nicely, and was the highlight aspect of the overall experience.
Starters arrived promptly and met with a decidedly mixed reaction. Patrick’s soup was very good indeed, and if the seasoning had been just a little less vigorous it was in the territory of Soupquest exceptional. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t quite enough of the baby leek and pine nut topping to balance the dish, meaning it drifted to being just a little over-seasoned. It was very close, though.
The black pudding dish was a total dud, unfortunately. It’s a major plus to be making your own black pudding, so a round of applause for the notion, but it just wasn’t very good. The balance of the dish didn’t work, either, with a forkful bringing all the elements together combining to cancel the flavours out, almost entirely. The texture wasn’t the best, either.
I had much the better of the main course fortunes, although my hake dish suffered some of the same problems that the black pudding dish did, in that the elements didn’t marry together very well. The hake itself was lovely, as were the clams, but the fritters were rather ordinary. I had a dish that was not dissimilar to this, but which applied a much greater restraint on the number of elements, at Field, recently. This one paled by comparison.
Robbie and Patrick were very underwhelmed by their steaks. The cooking was accurate, but it was the balance of the dish that was their major concern. It just didn’t come together to form satisfying mouthfuls.
Robbie had to run for a train, at this point, leaving Patrick and I to play with the dessert options. Patrick was very happy with his custard tart, rhubarb and ice cream, remarking that this was clearly where the chef’s strengths lay. With my cheese, again the balance of the dish was all wrong, with the sweetness of the ale cake and the tang of the chutney completely overwhelming the Mull cheddar.
So overall, Blackfriars has some work to do to improve how the various elements of their dishes come together. There’s no reason why they can’t do that, though, given the quality of ingredients they’re sourcing, so I look forward to seeing how things progress. For now, the place is smart and the service very good, but the food is very likely to divide opinion.
Blythe scores Blackfriars
3/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
4/5 for service
3.5/5 for setting
giving an overall 14/20
Today’s questers were: Patrick, Robbie, Blythe
We ate: black pudding (2), courgette and leek soup, ribeye steak (2), hake and razor clams, mull cheddar and ale cake, rhubarb and custard tart
We drank: grillo, water
We wore: pinstripes (2), denim trousers
Total bill: £123.80