|Verdant pea and ham hough / hock soup.|
Ah, Spring is here. A week of sunshine, warmth and al fresco supping and dining is cordially welcomed. With friends coming round for dinner at the weekend, surely it is time to fire up the barbecue? Except, just as I am reaching for the charcoal, early May regresses to early March, at least in terms of the weather. So with renovations at Scrumptious Scran Villas meaning there is currently no space to entertain indoors, it’s time for plan B.
|Bread, olive, hummus, oil, Balsamic. Splendid!|
Walls have been stripped back to bare stone and brick. A couple of wood-burners have been installed to keep things cosy in winter; and in anticipation of when the sun actually does shine French doors now adorn the establishment’s front, and the walls of the yard to the rear are lined by a ring of beach huts. So that’s a Scottish spring day fully covered!
|Tempura oysters with wild garlic mayo.|
And talk of the kitchen brings me nicely on to the menu. I think it would be a bit of an injustice to describe it as “pub grub”. Certainly, there are some stalwarts on the a la carte, in the form of hamburger, fish and chips etc.. But it is the choice of ingredients and attention to detail that sets this fare a (seafront promenade) mile away from, say, that served by a pub chain with a meteorological and cutlery nomenclature (if you get me). And do keep an eye out for the inventive dishes that pop up on the specials blackboard.
|Steak, chunky chips, onion rings, tomato, bearnaise.|
Around the table, my companions were tucking into equally tasty morsels. Back to basics, but skilfully put together was a half pint of unshelled prawns, fresh crusty bread, and paprika mayo. The shellfish looked so good, I stole one – covertly dipped in the mayo it was delicious! Equally stripped down, but also very tasty, was the combination of a selection of fresh breads, homemade hummus, olives, and very good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Very appetising. Yet possibly the standout starter was something that, on the face of it, sounds quite modest – the soup of the day. The bowl of emerald-hued deliciousness that arrived at the table consisted of fresh pea and ham hough broth which was full of verdant flavours, rippled with salty pork meatiness.
|Oinkingly good braised pig cheeks.|
If our opening courses were all about variety, mains were a carnivorous binary split. After taking a fair chunk of time to peruse the menu, JML’s and my dining companions each settled on a lovely chunk of beef. 35 day aged ribeye, paired with rustic chips, onion rings, roast tomato, and a smattering of salad, all accompanied by a béarnaise sauce. There really shouldn’t be much more to say other than this was splendidly well put together pub food. Actually, it was much more than “just” pub food. One of my fellow diners – Kathrin – has a job that means she travels the world, and she has eaten a fair few steaks in countries renowned for their beef. Her reaction said how good this offering really was.
|Very sticky toffee pudding.|
JML and I both went for slow braised pork cheeks with chive mash and green beans. I adore less-used cuts of meat, especially those that require long and slow cooking, and the two savourous porcine chunks that were served certainly fitted that bill. Cliché though it maybe, they were meltingly good, surrounded by a rich stock reduction, paired with smooth mash made sprightly by the chives, and beans just the right side of al dente – that is, not too squeaky on the teeth.
|Smashing rhubarb panna cotta.|
All in all, there was practically nothing to find fault with in our visit to the Guild of Foresters. It’s a welcoming place that really delivers at what it sets out to be; a decent bar/bistro that serves a very good menu of “gastro pub” staples, and some interesting specials. The fact that one often struggles to secure a table – especially at weekends – bears testament to how popular this venue has quickly become amongst both Portobellians and those hailing from outside Edinburgh’s Riviera. So if you are looking for a good pint – and even better scran – after a bracing walk on the prom, do head for this fab wee place. But you may need to reserve your spot first!
Ambience – Expect a relaxed bar / gastro-pub.