The units on Leith’s Commercial Quay have experienced mixed fortunes over the years. Whilst the Kitchin has flourished and expanded, many others have come and gone with the Black Pig & Oyster putting in a notably rapid recent blink-and-you’ll-miss-it performance.
One resident that’s hit upon a winning formula has been Cafe Tartine. They’ve chosen to double their pleasure by taking on a second unit, but unlike the Kitchin which spread next door to double the capacity across one site, they’ve taken the old Bond No9/Wolf & Water spot a few lots away creating a distinct bar restaurant offering called Papillon.
I visited at lunchtime so wasn’t in a boozy mood so focussed on their lunchtime food selection. This offers two courses for £12.95. Rather than a separate menu, the dishes on offer are an abbreviated selection from their a la carte.
With the soup off, I settled upon the Buffalo wings to start and followed with their fish n chips.
The wings were soon with me looking rather more stylish than you would usually expect to see them presented. The topping of microherbs felt a little out of place.
A generous portion of eight small wings, they were stickily sweet and light on spicing. A roquefort blue cheese sauce brought much needed tang. They were good eating but a little unbalanced in their flavours.
The main course featured crisply battered fish and pretty good fries. The tartare sauce was suitably piquant. And there was a rocket salad which felt slightly out of place but hey, I like rocket so fair enough.
Throughout service was attentive and they’ve certainly done a good job on revamping the place. It feels welcoming and stylish. But, there was a severe lack of customers and given the steep rent that these large units demand, I’m not convinced they’ve struck quite the same golden formula as with Tartine.
So overall, Papillon is a smart place serving well-considered, pretty good food. It’s worth a look next time you’re in these parts. There’s room for improvement but that will come in time. The issue for them is whether enough customers arrive to allow them the time they need to develop. I wish them luck but fear they will need a lot of it and soon.
Blythe scores Papillon
3.5/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
4/5 for setting
3.5/5 for service
giving an overall 14.5/20
I ate: wings, fish n chips
I drank: water
I wore: action footwear
Total bill: £12.95
Address: 84 Commercial Street, Edinburgh EH6 6LX