We had a really enjoyable Total Food Geeks evening, just recently, in Hemma. Aside from meeting a number of lovely people I’d only previously chatted to on Twitter, I got a tip to visit a restaurant in Newington, of which I hadn’t previously heard.
Wild has sustainability at its heart, with a solid to commitment to local sourcing to match their home-style Italian menu, down to the point of keeping their own chickens and quails, in the garden. Their menu offers incredible cheapness, with three courses for a mere £12
The premises, with seats for around thirty, takes down-at-heel to a new level. The banquette seats radiate 70s lounge bar, the tablecloths are unironed, and it was so chilly inside that the waitress was wearing a scarf. I’d been warned not to judge things by appearances, though, and also that the service would be slow but very friendly, which it was, so I sat tight and waited for the evening to play out.
First to arrive was a little bruschetta, sent from the kitchen for me to nibble on while I waited. Sounds of chopping gave me the slight fear that my soup, ordered as a starter, was being prepared from scratch. While I prepared for this eventuality, this ridiculously simple opener kept me entirely amused.
If there’s anywhere to which I would trace my love of food, it’s to some meals I had when at university, where a friend cooked lovely, simple Italian fare for us to savour. Uppermost in my memory is the bruschetta she used to make. Tonight’s example was the first to transport me back to those heady days of academic youth.
The soup took its time, but was entirely worth the wait. Served very smartly in one of those flying saucer plates, it looked like a fresh egg yolk had been cracked on the top of the mushroom soup, from which a captivating aroma of thyme emanated. It proved to be a pumpkin topping, which brought beautiful balance to proceedings.
I’d been asked if I wanted some parmesan with the soup, shortly before it arrived. I’d expected a little shaving on top, but what I got was a few neat chunks, to match the pointy crostini. One of the spoonfuls, which brought together the parmesan, the mushroom and the pumpkin was one of the best spoonfuls of soup I’ve had in a long time.
Once the soupy joy had cleared, I noticed the smell of smoke from the kitchen. It reminded me that I’d ordered a smoked beef main. I was starting to lose sensation in my toes.
After a lengthy wait, the main course arrived with great ceremony, with a cloche lifted to release the smoky vapours that had been applied to the beef. The dish looked like it lacked a starch element, and so it proved. The beef was wonderfully smoky, but there needed to be something to balance the dish. The slightly curious “poker garnish” and pepper mosaic didn’t quite work, but it was still a very entertaining dish.
So overall, Wild is the most solidly bizarre place I’ve visited in Edinburgh. Reflecting upon the events of the evening, it’s hard to reach a firm conclusion. For sure, it has shown up our scoring system as a rather blunt instrument. Also, if I’d had my quester-in-chief MJ with me, we’d have never made it through the meal, as she would have stabbed me in the face for bringing her somewhere so cold, shortly before freezing to death. The recommendation would be to wrap up warm, bring your chattiest friend, and pay it a visit, very soon. You may not like it, or you may be icily charmed by it, as I was, but everyone (EVERYONE) must visit, at least once in their lifetime.
Blythe scores Wild
4.5/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
giving an overall 12/20
I ate: cream of mushroom and pumpkin soup; smoked beef tagliata with pepper mosaic (served with poker garnish)
I drank: chianti, water
I wore: official questing pinstripes
Total bill: £15