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Edinburgh Restaurant Review: The Doric – An old haunt that’s maybe in need of a new approach…

Goats’ cheese tart, with a rocket bonnet.

Edinburgh is blessed with a plethora of great places to eat. Not only that, but – like pretty weeds poking through cracks in a garden path – new gastro-pubs, bistros and restaurants seem to appear in my home town on a monthly basis. With this constantly emerging choice it’s perhaps unsurprising that favoured old haunts sometimes fall by the wayside.

I must admit that I do feel a wee bit regretful when circumstances change, and visits to oft-frequented stomping grounds begin to tail off. On the flip side, re-acquaintance with a now neglected eatery or hostelry can be joyous, when their present offerings live up to rose-tinted memories of meals past (see my review of The Shore, as a case in point). With this in mind, when JML and I met a couple of friends for lunch the other weekend, I was both intrigued and a little trepidations when one of them suggested dining at The Doric.

Lovely lamb & Madeira sauce. As for the veg…

Situated just behind Edinburgh’s Waverley railway station (in Market Street), The Doric is housed in an architecturally-impressive 17th century tenement building, and bills itself as “Edinburgh’s oldest gastro-pub”. The bistro section of the establishment, located above a separate bar, is accessed via stairs that would not be out of place in an instalment of Harry Potter. Walking into the restaurant it seemed little had changed from the last time I dined there over four years ago – still the same primrose yellow walls punctuated with an eclectic array of prints, and dark wood floors and furniture. Except, maybe things looked a bit more down at heel than I remembered.

We joined one of our – already ensconced – lunching partners and placed our drinks order with the Maitre d’, just as the final member of our party arrived. Service was friendly and courteous. But when we were handed the menus, my immediate thought was these had seen better days – both physically and in terms of contents. And while we perused the, somewhat dog-eared and grubby, menu cards the bottles of wine and water we had ordered were literally plonked – unopened and unannounced – on our table by another member of waiting staff. The portents, to be frank, were not good…

Now I must admit, I sometimes struggle to do a review justice when there are more than two of us dining, as there are maybe too many viewpoints to take into consideration – tastes and preferences often seem to get a bit complicated. This restaurant’s menu is not short on choice either, even if many of the dishes might be considered “pub grub stalwarts”. Add to this mix the fact that one of our party was gluten intolerant – which, to give The Doric its due, it did its utmost to accommodate –I thought we might be in for some mixed opinions. However, by the time it came to don our coats, consensus reigned amongst our party that our dining experience was a bit hit and miss.

Rich chicken & chorizo with butter beans.

My starter of mussels in a white wine and cream sauce was tasty enough. The shellfish were plump, but the white granular substance covering them indicated the cream had split from the sauce during cooking.  Plus, the accompanying chunk of bread was a tad dry, as if it had been cut for a while. JML’s goats’ cheese tart was nicely presented and appetising, but was somewhat dominated by the inclusion of a whole round of baked cheese. The dishes of smoked duck, and smoked salmon seemed to be eagerly consumed across the table from us – the later accompanied by a gluten-free toast which was surprisingly tasty.

Another bottle of wine arrived – thankfully, this time opened and poured – at the same time as our mains. To be honest, my chargrilled rump of lamb was lovely. It possessed just the right level of rareness and its Madeira sauce matched it well. The accompanying Boulangère potatoes were adequate enough – though they would have benefited from some crispness to their surface, but the whole roast pepper and turned artichoke didn’t contrast the richness of the meat as much as I had hoped.

Pork two ways, with a zippy pepper sauce.

JML decided on the “home made” shepherd’s pie, which was – as the menu description suggested –homely rather than tantalisingly tasty. Our friends variously plumbed for chicken with chorizo, and the pork belly and loin. The chicken was moist and nicely accompanied by butter beans and chunks of spicy sausage, but in combination with a cream sauce maybe the sum of the dish was a little over rich. In relation to the pork-fest, the belly was very nicely cooked with a deep flavour, but the loin was slightly underwhelming, and whilst the sweet pepper coulis added tasty zippiness this highlighted that the accompanying fondant potato and honeyed carrots were a bit insipid, by comparison.

This being a lunch-time get together, we decided to forgo puddings, choosing instead to share a plate of “fine Scottish cheeses” with biscuits and home-made chutney, whilst we drank our coffees. The cheeses were nice enough, but I don’t recall any indication being given of what they were, or where in Scotland they hailed from. It could be that we were all a bit too busy chatting, however…

All in all, I think my re-acquaintance with The Doric left me a bit flat. It wasn’t an awful experience by any means, but in the intervening years since I regularly crossed its threshold I think the venue and its cooking has become a wee bit tired. And with the prices of some of the mains roughly comparable with those served by such trendy and celebrated newcomers as Kitchin’s The Scran and Scally and Greenaway’s Bistro Moderene, it might be high time for The Doric to contemplate a bit of a refresh.

Food – 6/10
Atmosphere -6/10
Service -6.5/10
Value – 5.5/10

Ambience – Expect a bistro/gastro-pub experience.

Doric Tavern on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

drink/ Feature/ food/ Scottish

Feature Article: Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight – celebrating Scotland’s fabulous larder

Scottish Food Fortnight Logo.

I have a soft spot for September. It marks the start of autumn – surprisingly, my favourite season. The weather in Scotland at this time of year can be glorious – if a little chilly – with clear skies producing a beautiful quality of light. And September also signals an abundance of great food. Many fruit and vegetables – brambles, apples, squash, leeks etc. – become ripe for the harvest, and game – such as pheasant – comes into season.

It’s appropriate then that September is the month when two weeks are given over to celebrating all that is great in terms of Scotland’s culinary produce, in the form of Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight. First established in 2009, this year’s Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight runs until 22 September and features nearly 230 events across Scotland. It brings producers, retailers and the public together in a range of activities that explore some of our nation’s familiar – and less familiar – culinary traditions and success stories.

Although I’m writing about the fortnight as it draws to a close, there are still a plethora of events taking place between now and Sunday, and to find out what is happening near you there is a handy “Search for an Event” facility available on the initiative’s website:

I shall be doing my bit to support Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight by posting about the fantastic spicy chutney I made last week, using some amazingly tasty plums sourced from my friend’s garden (this should be on the blog before the weekend). I’m also planning to cook with some wonderful Scottish game over the weekend, and hopefully the results will good enough to warrant a write up here, too.

Scotland produces some brilliant food and drink. Our lamb and beef are world beating. We grow some incredible fruit and vegetables. Scottish produces superlative, award-winning cheeses. Our seas team with an abundance of wonderful seafood. And we are world renowned for our beer, whisky and gin, as well as some fine non-alcoholic beverages. With all this on offer, it’s only right to be celebrating Scotland’s bountiful larder.

Bite magazine/ Edinburgh/ restaurant/ review/ Scottish

Bite Magazine review: A delicious date with The Edinburgh Larder Bistro

Chocolate & lavender torte with coffee jelly.
Chocolate & lavender torte with coffee jelly.

My third review for Bite Magazine is now published on Bite’s website and in the September print edition of the magazine.  This month, JML and I paid a second visit to The Edinburgh Larder Bistro, to find out if a recent refurbishment and appointment of a new head chef had made a difference to this classy Scottish eatery.  A taster of the article is printed below, and you can read the full version on Bite Magazine’s website.

A delicious date with The Edinburgh Larder Bistro

Second dates can be intriguing; a chance to confirm or dispel first impressions. So a couple of months on from a great first visit to The Edinburgh Larder Bistro I was keen to dine there again, not least because it has recently had a refurbishment and change of head chef.

This West End basement restaurant now has a more “nouveau rustic” feel, combining white-washed walls with tastefully weathered furniture, and trendy wicker fittings. Seated in the airy conservatory space beyond the main dining area, we were, however, pleased to see that the menu remained packed with the seasonal, locally-sourced, sometimes foraged ingredients that are the bistro’s trademark.

JML chose to open with squid with black pudding, gooseberry syrup, pickled carrots and Arran leaves (£5.95) – a great combination of seafood and meaty flavours, well balanced by acid gooseberry and sour/sharp pickle. My rabbit loin, potato purée, barley, green leaf sauce and cider butter (£6.50) comprised two moist chunks of tasty meat atop an invitingly creamy base, surrounded by pools of tangy sauce and pearls of verdant pesto. Both starters were very well composed and beautifully presented, though somewhat tepid. The wine choice of a bottle of dry, grapefruity picpoul de pinet (£20) matched them well.

Read the full review at:
Bite magazine/ Edinburgh/ Leith/ restaurant/ review/ Scottish/ Seafood

Bite Magazine review: A happy return to The Shore

Beautiful hake on courgettes, Puy lentils & pancetta.
Beautiful hake on courgettes, Puy lentils & pancetta.

My second review for Bite Magazine has just appeared on the publication’s website, and will hopefully also feature in the August print edition of the magazine.  This time JML and I had the pleasure to return to one of our old stomping grounds, The Shore Bar and Restaurant located, appropriately enough, in Leith’s Shore district. You can read a wee taster of the review below, and the full article can be found on Bite Magazine‘s website. 

A happy return to The Shore

Re-acquaintance with a lost friend can be a marvellous thing. And such was the case when I recently revisited The Shore. Previously a regular haunt of mine, walking into the elegant oak-panelled and mirror-adorned bar that adjoins the restaurant, the welcome was as warm as I remembered.

Heavenly chocolate brownie & caramelised banana.
Heavenly chocolate brownie & caramelised banana.

Looking over the menu, we enjoyed an aperitif whilst awaiting our table – nice to see a place buzzing on a dreich Tuesday. The restaurant (now part of the Fishers group) offers inventive fare featuring Scottish ingredients, with seafood at the centre of a number of dishes.

Seated beside the restaurant’s huge windows, my dining partner and I had high hopes for our starters. We were not disappointed. My squid with chorizo, chickpeas and roast peppers (£6) had a great balance of flavours. Tender seafood, moist pimentón sausage and earthy pulses worked beautifully with a fruity tang and chilli heat. Across the table was a hockey-puck of ham and potato hash cake (£5.75), crisped in breadcrumbs, and generously adorned with hollandaise and poached egg. Real comfort food!

Mains were slightly more eclectic…

Read the full review at:

The entrance to The Shore.
A ‘Shore’ welcome.

aquaculture/ environment/ fish farming/ Gigha/ halibut/ salmon/ Scottish/ Sustainable

Sustainable food news: Farmed Scottish halibut and salmon – two very different kettles of fish

Farmed Gigha halibut.
Beautiful halibut.

I adore seafood. Nothing unusual with that, you might think, many people do. However, I was brought up in the very north of Birmingham – effectively as far from the sea as it’s possible to be, in the UK. Despite being fabled to have more miles of canals than Venice, Birmingham is well and truly land locked. Yet somewhat surprisingly, “Brum” has a terrific fish market – or at least it did when I was a youngster. A sizeable section of the old Bull Ring market hall was dedicated to an impressive range of fish stalls stocking a myriad of seafood, shipped overnight from the ports where these had been landed.

I think my regular visits to the fish market had a subconscious influence upon my choosing to study marine biology at university. And although I no longer work in that particular field, I’m still fascinated by all things marine-related, especially when these also involve food. So I was naturally intrigued when I discovered that there was a Scottish company farming and smoking one of my favourite fishes, halibut.

Fish farming is nothing new, of course. Globally, aquaculture (to give fish farming its Sunday name) is increasingly significant, accounting for 64 million tonnes of the 131 million tonnes of fish and shellfish consumed around the world in 2011. And aquaculture – and salmon farming in particular – is now big business in Scotland. Of the nearly 170,000 tonnes of finfish farmed in the UK in 2010, over 154,000 tonnes of this was salmon farmed in Scotland.

It may surprise you to learn that I tend not to cook or eat Scottish farmed salmon. This is because I believe that the way the majority of salmon is currently farmed in Scotland simply isn’t environmentally sustainable, for many reasons. The fish are reared in high densities in cages mostly sighted in sheltered sea lochs. The waste these produce can smother the seabed, impacting the plants and animals naturally occurring there. Because the fish are effectively factory farmed, they are highly susceptible to diseases and parasites, resulting in the chemicals used to treat these also contaminating the environment. What’s more, significant escapes of farmed salmon are not uncommon, and these can impact wild salmon stocks through interbreeding and disease and parasite transmission. And then there is the issue of catching industrial quantities of small, South American fish to turn into feed for salmon farms. Certainly the salmon farming industry seems keen to address these substantial environmental issues, but until it does this effectively, it’s hardly surprising that Scottish farmed salmon remains off my menu.

Yet not all fish farming exacts a high price on the marine environment, which is why I was so interested to try the halibut farmed on the Hebridean island of Gigha. In the wild – the waters of the Atlantic – stocks of Atlantic halibut are dangerously low. Yet the fish is so good to eat, it remains very much in demand. This has resulted in the establishment of Gigha Halibut, a company with an approach to fish farming that appears to be (nautical) miles away from much of Scotland’s salmon farming industry.

Calm Gigha seas.
Calm Gigha seas.

Firstly, the fish the farm produces are both organic and grown in large tanks on land, as opposed to cages floating in the sea. Flatfish, such as halibut and turbot, are ideally suited to being raised in large, flat tanks that are continually circulated with clean seawater pumped from nearby shores. This means there is practically no risk of fish escaping to the wild. Secondly, the fish are grown in comparatively low densities. As Guardian journalist, Alex Renton, found out this helps to keep them effectively disease free, negating the need to use chemicals or medicines. Thirdly all Gigha halibut are fed with a certified organic diet using 100% fish trimmings as a source of protein and organic vegetable products as a source of carbohydrate. There feed does not rely on industrial fisheries undertaken on the other side of the globe to produce fish meal.

The overall result of this approach to fish husbandry is that Gigha Halibut produces an excellent, sustainable, product. Certainly, the way the halibut is farmed, and the relatively small scale of production, means it will never be on sale for the bargain bucket price that industrially farmed Scottish salmon currently fetches. But for me – and for leading chefs such as Alain Roux, and Michael Smith from Skye’s The Three Chimneys – such is the taste and quality of Gigha Halibut’s fish, it deserves its status as a premiere product.

To discover exactly how good Gigha Halibut’s product is, be sure to check out my next recipe post, which is a capriccio featuring of their fantastic smoked fish.

Photographs courtesy of the Gigha Halibut website.

Chefs' Alliance/ Edinburgh/ review/ Scottish/ slow food

Review: West End Thrills – The Edinburgh Larder Bistro

Beetroot Soup
Beetroot and chard soup.

I have been inspired to go west. Following my recent visit to the excellent Slow Food event at Edinburgh’s Summerhall, I’ve realised I need to venture outside my east Edinburgh eatery comfort zone more often. My resolve to dine more widely stems from the realisation that Edinburgh has some great restaurants that follow the slow food ethos which I have yet to visit. So on Friday, I put my resolution into action when JML and I booked ourselves a table at The Edinburgh Larder Bistro (1a Alva Street, EH2 4PH) for dinner.

I had heard of this restaurant before, but it really popped onto my culinary radar when I had the opportunity to taste some great nibbles prepared by the establishment’s Chef – Finlay Nicol – at the Summerhall event. Nicol is a member of Slow Food’s The Chef Alliance, so it’s unsurprising to learn that the bistro serves a menu comprising of seasonal dishes, and works with local food and drink suppliers to ensure that these feature the best local, Scottish produce.

The Edinburgh Larder Bistro, occupies an expansive, slightly labyrinthine basement in Edinburgh’s West End. Unexpectedly, the venue also sports a bright conservatory area to its rear, which is where we were seated. Whilst the restaurant offers an impressive a la carte menu, we had taken advantage of a offer and therefore chose our dishes from the slightly smaller, but no less impressive, pre-theatre menu.

Smoked Haddock Pate
Smoked haddock pâté.

To start, I went for the beetroot and chard soup. This was invitingly bright purpley-pink and packed with delicious flavours of earthy sweetness from the beetroot, married with the slightly astringent kick of the chard. A generous blob of crème fraiche placed in the centre of the bowl also added a nice creamy note when mixed into the rest of the liquid, and the only slight quibble I had with the dish was that I had to use a fork to help the lengthy shreds of shard leaves onto my spoon. JML’s opening dish was the pâté of the day, which smoked haddock and spring onion. He was served two generous quenelles of pâté, accompanied by an inviting, flower-adorned organic salad and slices of wholemeal toast. The pâté was obviously made with quality ingredients, and tasted of rich, yet subtle, smokey fishiness, which was complemented by a zing from the spring onion. The speed with which it was consumed certainly suggested it was a hit.

Pork Belly
Roast pork belly.

For my main course, I was initially tempted to order the beef cheeks. I’m a big fan of under-utilised cuts of meat, and beef cheeks – and for that matter, their piggy counterparts – are delicious when slow braised. I was a little disappointed, therefore, when our waitress informed us that in this instance the cheeks had been substituted with a pork belly alternative. Any disappointment soon evaporated however, when I was presented with a beautifully succulent and tender slice of pork adorned with crispy crackling and resting on a bed of sautéed new potatoes, greens and peas., all surrounded by a light, meaty broth. The meat was perfectly cooked and worked well with the rest of dish’s ingredients. To accompany my main, I also ordered a side of seasonal vegetables, which in this case consisted of sautéed lettuce and chard. This was nice enough, but having already consumed chard in my soup, there was a wee danger of overloading on this particular veg.

Tomato Tart
Roast tomato tart.

My dining companion’s main was a roasted tomato tart, with puy lentil salad and crowdie cheese. The Clyde Valley Tomatoes – which are grown just a short trip down the M8 from Edinburgh – used in the tart gave it a real richness of flavour, which was complemented by the creaminess of the crowdie cheese paired with it. The puy lentil salad was also a winner, combining seasonal leaves, earthy pulses and yet more delicious toms with a perfectly seasoned dressing. As a side, JML ordered “Beef dripping chips with Hebridean sea salt”. The golden brown chunks of potato that arrived were sensational, and amongst the best chips I have ever tasted.

Chocolate Fondant
Chocolate fondant.

Even though our dining special offer consisted of two dishes each and a bottle of house wine for £35 – which certainly represents great value – we couldn’t resist availing ourselves of the dessert menu. JML is a big fan of chocolate, so I wasn’t surprised when he ordered the chocolate fondant. This was spot on, quite literally oozing chocolaty richness. It was served with an intriguing carrot ice cream and terrific beetroot granita, which tasted “…just like frozen beetroot jam”. My espresso pecan tart with vanilla ice cream was also rich and tasty, with the flavour of the coffee coming through without overpowering that of the nuts. My only gripe was that the tart’s pastry base was bordering on being overdone, which called for some heavyweight spoon action to divide the pud into consumable segments.

Pecan Pie
Pecan & espresso tart.

All in all, we had great meal at Edinburgh Larder Bistro. The venue is relaxed and welcoming, service is very pleasant, and the food is obviously prepared with passion and attention to detail. What’s more, not only can you dine on really inviting, tasty dishes at this restaurant, but in doing so you will be supporting local producers and suppliers – the menu even lists and thanks those responsible for the ingredients the restaurant uses.

I might be an east-end boy at heart, but I shall certainly be going west again, if my initial experience of the Edinburgh Larder Bistro is anything to go by.

Food 7.5/10
Atmosphere 7.5/10
Service 8/10
Value 9/10

Ambience – Expect a venue with a bistro/brasserie ambience.

Edinburgh Larder Bistro on Urbanspoon Square Meal

Chefs' Alliance/ Feature/ food/ news/ Scottish/ slow food/ Sustainable

Sustainable food news: A quick post about Slow Food

A great slow food barley risotto.
A demo of cooking great barley risotto.

A passion about good food that is responsibly produced and sourced.  This is what has inspired me to write about the quality ingredients I buy, cook and eat. I am not alone in this dedication, I know.  Yet sometimes it can be tricky to engage with others who share a similar passion. Accosting  fellow shoppers at a farmers’ market to congratulate them on their purchases of organic rhubarb, or a sour dough bloomer risks offending middle-class sensibilities, after all. Of course, I’m parodying the image of those of us with an interest in sustainable food. However, there is definitely a need for a forum that easily allows people to exchange ideas and exuberance about the things they are growing, cooking and eating.

Yesterday I had the pleasure to participate in a great event marking the end of Slow Food Week 2013. For anyone not familiar with the slow food movement, please do have a look at their website. Fundamentally, their ethos is all about food being “good, clean and fair”. It’s an approach that encompasses care and, dare I say, passion – whether this comes from those producing the raw ingredients, or those serving the delicious dishes that are composed from these. What’s more, slow food is also about knowing the exact background of what is being served and eaten.

Let’s be honest, anonymous shopping is so easy these days. Swipe, beep, swipe, beep, goes the routine. And off home we go with our bags full of Chilean asparagus, Kenyan beans, and New Zealand hoki (it’s a fish, the stocks of which look increasingly threatened). There is usually no discussion in the generic environment of the supermarket as to the provenance or sustainability of the food we buy – bar the marketing blurb that “reassures” us that produce is “Scottish”, or “English”, or “British” – apart, of course, from when it frequently isn’t any of these things. There’s no real explanation about what’s on offer, other than a passing indication of country of origin, and maybe – if we are lucky – a diminutive name check for the producer. There certainly seems to be little genuine passion from big retailers about the produce filling the supermarkets’ aisles.  But it doesn’t have to be like this.

Mull cheese and smoked trout from Belhaven.
Cheese from Mull, smoked trout from Belhaven.

Yesterday, at Edinburgh’s Summerhall, knowledge and passion were in abundance. The event featured producers, suppliers and restaurateurs from across Scotland, each with stalls packed with (mostly) locally sourced ingredients and produce. All supporters of the slow food ethos, everyone had a story to tell, and every stall was a bit different. To be honest, such was the enthusiasm of all those involved for what they were doing, there was a danger of being slightly overwhelming – but not in a bad way. To taste such quality produce and hear about the connection those serving it had with what they were offering was inspirational. It was great to experience so much of that genuine buzz in one place, at one time.

I asked Neil Forbes – Chef/Proprietor of Edinburgh brasserie, Café St Honore – why he was at the event. “My gran’s soup”, he replied, somewhat enigmatically. He went on to explain that she used the best, freshest – and often home-grown – ingredients when she cooked it. That has influenced Neil’s take on food ever since. What’s not inspirational about those values?

Equally, chatting to Sascha Grierson about the organic meat company she, and her husband Hugh, run provided me with an interesting insight. “Sometimes, people ask about our marketing ‘department'” she laughingly said. “That would be me. And the accounts department, and I’m often the person on the stall at the farmers’ markets, too” Sascha explained. This emphasised that more often than not the organisations involved in the slow food movement are comparatively modest in size, and operate without the resources and infrastructure available to the large-scale food conglomerates. But speak to anyone involved in slow food and it’s apparent that they are people with a real devotion to what they produce and sell, and a genuine interest in the people they sell it to.  This is what drives their success.

Scottish Café & Restaurant produce & sustainability award.
Scottish Café & Restaurant produce & sustainability award.

I’d like to add how great it was to also speak to proprietors and staff from: Centotre, and the Scottish Café & Restaurant ; the Stockbridge Restaurant; the Cumberland Bar; the Edinburgh Larder; Mara Seaweed; 63 Tay Street Restaurant; The Monachyle Mhor Hotel; and the Roost; as well as representatives from Slow Food UK. Thank you all for putting on a truly inspirational event. It’s a pleasure to write about it and, in doing so, to try and inspire others to think about how and where the food they eat is produced and prepared. 

bistro/ Edinburgh/ French/ restaurant/ review/ Scottish/ slow food

Review: Café St Honoré – A French gem with a Scottish Twist

Front of Cafe Saint Honore.
A wee bit of Paris, in Thistle Street Lane.

We visited Café St Honoré on a freezing spring evening, having been keen to experience this French-influenced exponent of “slow food” for a while. Despite the cold weather, the welcome was immediately warm as we stepped into the restaurant which, if you forget it is hidden just of Edinburgh’s Thistle Street, would be entirely at home in Paris’s Latin Quarter.

Café St Honoré specialises in using seasonal, locally-sourced produce to create bistro-style cuisine, and the passion of it’s chef-director Neil Forbes with this regard has lead to the establishment being rated as Scotland’s most sustainable eatery in 2012. As already mentioned Whilst the ambience of the restaurant is very obviously French, its insistence on using – wherever possible – Scottish ingredients creates an ‘Auld Alliance’ of classic cuisine français in combination with quality Scot’s flavours.

From the several alternatives available, we decided to go with the ‘café classics’ menu which provides diners with a choice from two options for each course and offers great value at £22.50 for starter, main and pudding. My partner opened proceedings with a dish of potato and herb dumplings with Highland Crowdie cheese which were, as anticipated, satisfyingly both herby and cheesy and provided a good balance of flavours. The real star of our first course, however, was my cullen skink which was packed with delicious smoked haddock and potatoes, all bathed in a luxurious creamy sauce that had assumed the smokiness of the fish during cooking.

Our mains were equally good, and whilst I again choose a very palatable fish-based dish of pan-fried coley with sautéed pink fir potatoes and greens, I almost wish I had joined my partner in sampling the venison casserole. This consisted of meltingly tender meat and vegetables cooked in a satisfyingly rich and flavoursome wine sauce.

For pudding we were unanimous in choosing the crème fraiche and sea buckthorn mousse, which was exceptional. The richness of the mousse was beautifully countered by the tartness of the sea buckthorn sauce with which it was topped, and the spring rhubarb jus in which it sat.

Add to the excellent food excellent service – which was extremely friendly, knowledgeable and attentive without being over-bearing – and a good wine list – we chose a very satisfying South American cabernet sauvignon – overall, we had a wonderful dining experience for a very reasonable £70 (excluding gratuity).

So if you are in Edinburgh and crave well cooked, French-inspired food that comes packed with local and seasonal flavours, you would be well advised to seek out Café St Honoré.

Food – 8/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Service -8/10
Value – 8/10

Ambience – Expect a venue with a brasserie, to quality restaurant ambience.

[This review is based on one posted on Tripadvisor in March 2013]

Cafe St Honoré on Urbanspoon Square Meal

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