Owl & Deer
When I heard that Owl & Deer on Haddington Place was going to be opening as a bistro in the evenings it wasn’t a prospect that particularly thrilled me.
This site used to be home to the excellent I Heart Cafe, but over the years has diminished in quality appreciably with my trip to the Owl & Deer through-the-day cafe too underwhelming to merit writing about.
However, it’s handy for my new abode and a glance at their bistro menu piqued my interest so I gave it a go at the end of a long week.
They were doing zero business at 8pm on a Friday which didn’t seem like a good sign. I was joined by two more tables during my stay but things seem very slow for now.
Their standard menu price is two courses for £22, three for £25, but this month things are reduced to £17.95 and £21.95. Even at the lower rate this felt like quite an unusual price-point.
I opened with seasonal asparagus topped with a poached egg and parmesan shavings. This was a neat and tidy dish, cleanly executed. The accompanying olive bread was good; the accompanying white wine was not.
The main course venison loin (£3 supplement) was another piece of good quality cooking. The broccoli and stilton puree worked quite well, but the dish was unbalanced by a jus that lacked a fruity kick from the purported red wine. It could have used a good glug of port, ideally. But the loin was flavour-packed and well treated. Again the wine – a cabernet sauvignon – was weak.
I rounded things out with poor espresso which took me back to the dismal visit I’d had to their cafe.
So overall, Owl & Deer was a bit of a mixed bag. There was enough talent on show from the kitchen to please a broad range of tastes, but the price-for-quality doesn’t seem a good fit with the local restaurant ecosystem. Nearby Le Roi Fou offers a far superior pre-theatre menu at this price and the Walnut does vastly better for rather less. The Lantern Room is stronger in a similar style and again slightly cheaper. It’s a bit of a shame as what they’re doing shows some promise, but I just can’t see it connecting with enough of an audience.
I ate: asparagus with poached egg and parmesan; loin of venison
I drank: wine, water, espresso
I wore: maroon
Total bill: £29.05
Address: 26-27 Haddington Place, Edinburgh, EH7 4AF