The Honours is the casual sister of Martin Wishart’s flagship Leith restaurant and opened in 2011. There is a bar as you enter, and the dining room is on the left. It is smartly decorated, so although a brasserie in style it feels a touch more formal than, say, a pub. Paul Tamburrini is the head chef, and has been here since the restaurant opened.. He had been executive chef at One Devonshire Gardens for almost five years, and before that had been head chef at the Cameron House hotel in Loch Lomond, which ironically now houses another Martin Wishart restaurant.
The menu has lots of appealing dishes, and a wide selection of aged Scottish beef. The wine list had detailed tasting notes, and labels such as Leyda Reserve Merlot 2015 at £28.50 for a bottle that you can pick up in the high street for £10, Little Beauty Pinot Noir 2014 at £50.50 compared to its retail price of £27, and Henri Darnat Mersault 2013 at £90 for a wine whose current market price is £43.
I was intrigued to try the smoked salmon, which is smoked for the restaurant by a butcher called Campbell’s Fine Meat in Linlithgow. We had a taste as sort of amuse-bouche, served with a quail egg and chopped onion and chives. It is hard to score something like smoked salmon, but this was definitely a superior form of the breed, having excellent flavour and silky texture. This is up there with some of the very best smoked salmon that I have tried.
A signature dish of the restaurant is truffled tagliatelle with scallops. This featured hand-dived Orkney scallops excellent pasta and Italian black truffles. This was a lovely dish, the scallops top class and the hint of truffle coming through nicely (16/20). Crab with Marie rose sauce was enjoyable if not quite in the same league, the crab fresh and shell-free, served with chopped tomato, white radish, espelette pepper, the sauce, wheat cracker and a garnish of nasturtium leaf and pea shoots. For me the sauce could have been a bit more boldly seasoned, but this was certainly a good dish (15/20).
Halibut came with fennel and tapenade of black olive and pepper. The fish was accurately cooked and the tapenade worked nicely to lift the mild flavour of the halibut (15/20). Partridge was even more impressive, avoiding the rubbery tendency that this meat can have in less skilled hands than these. The bird was served with crisp and nice salted game chips and bread sauce, with a green salad on the side (16/20). Both thin chips and green beans were capably made.
Cheese was in good condition, a selection including St Maure de Touraine. For dessert we had apple tart tatin, the puff pastry here made from scratch in the kitchen and having excellent texture, the apples cooked until golden but not beyond, their sharpness nicely balancing the sugar used. This was a very fine tart tatin indeed (17/20).
Service was excellent, led by a manager who had served m six years previously when I had been to Wishart in Leith. Drinks topping up was slick, the dishes came at a steady pace and the waiters we encountered were friendly and professional. The bill came to £106 a head, but that was with copious amounts of good wine and a cheese course. If you had three courses and shared a modest bottle then a typical cost per person would be about £70. Given the high quality of the produce used here and the skill in the kitchen that seems pretty fair to me.Book