This restaurant looks out over the water in Leith, and although this is an industrial area (formerly a dock) from our table we actually saw some swans swimming by when we were having lunch. This is a long way from the bucolic beauty of the setting of The Waterside Inn with its weeping willow and view over the Thames, but it was surprising to see wildlife in this gritty urban setting. The L shaped dining room seats between 40 and 50 diners depending on how the tables are configured. It is carpeted, and this feature along with the tablecloths makes for a pleasingly quiet dining room, despite it being almost full at this lunch sitting.
Two six course tasting menus were priced at £80 and £85, plus a full vegetarian tasting menu on offer at £75, and at lunch there was a three course lunch at £32 as well as a la carte choices, which are priced at £85 for four courses. We went for the seafood tasting menu. The wine list featured some excellent growers, with sample labels being JJ Prum Kabinett 2014 at £48 for a bottle that will set you back £17 in the high street, Vina Ardanza 2007 at £75 compared to its retail price of £20, and Lagrange 2011 at £90 for a wine that will set you back £32 in the shops.
Bread was made from scratch in the kitchen: a choice of white or brown rolls, served warm. These were fine albeit a little crusty (15/20). A nibble of beetroot macaron with horseradish cream was delicate, the gentle bite of the horseradish coming through nicely (16/20). This was followed by two further nibbles. A squid ink cracker was topped with rouille, salmon eggs, avocado, smoked salmon and Marie Rose sauce, but even better was a curry and saffron veloute with a mussel and pickled cucumber, the veloute having terrific depth of flavour (17/20).
The first course of the meal was a risotto with white truffles. These were from the Marche region of Italy rather than the more famous Alba, but were of good quality and had the same gorgeous aroma. The risotto itself had excellent texture and had been made with a lovely, rich chicken stock whose flavour permeated the rice nicely. This was a simple dish but a lovely one, the truffle adding its luxurious scent to the proceedings (easily 17/20). A nice theatrical touch was the serving of the truffles in a wooden cigar box prior to them being grated at the table.
Next a pair of hand-dived scallops were served with a gently spiced Sauternes and curry sauce, pumpkin purée and walnut pesto. The scallops themselves had excellent inherent sweetness and were delicately cooked, the walnuts adding a contrasting texture and the subtle spices just lifting the flavour without dominating the dish (17/20).
The star dish for me was langoustines from Kilbrannan with parsnip purée, flaked haddock, verjus and smoked butter. The shellfish were glorious, lightly cooked and with excellent flavour, working well with the earthiness of the pumpkin (18/20).
Next was squid with Lomo di Bellota (a prized cut of cured meat from the Iberico black-footed pigs of the Pyrenees that are raised on acorns), and a base of puy lentils, rouille and a squid ink sauce. The squid was tender and contrasted nicely with the silky meat, the earthy lentils and richness of the sauce providing an interesting set of flavours and textures (17/20).
The main course was monkfish, served with bomba rice, velvet crab, avocado and an intensely flavoured crab bisque. The fish was precisely cooked and its flavour came through well, the crab lovely and delicate and the rice working well as a balancing texture (a strong 17/20).
The cheese board looked tempting but we moved straight on to dessert. Pre-dessert was blackcurrant sorbet with poached pears, yoghurt mousse and a little feuilletine biscuit. The flavour of both the pears and in particular the blackcurrants were impressive, and thus was a very effective, refreshing pre-dessert (17/20). Apple mousse and compote came atop a layer of caramelised brioche, with salted caramel ice cream and apple gel. This was a pleasant dessert, though for me greater sharpness from the apples would have been an improvement (16/20). Chocolate mousse came with confit pineapple and clementine juice along with passion fruit sorbet. The mousse had good texture, though the pineapple did not seem to me to add much, whereas the clementine juice did bring acidity (15/20). Coffee was from a company called Johan and Nystrom, and was dark and rich.
Service was excellent, the staff friendly and attentive. The bill came to £95 per person with just water to drink. If you went a la carte and shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical cost per head might be around £110 or so. This was another thoroughly enjoyable meal here. The menu is appealing, the quality of the produce excellent and the technique hard to fault. There are plenty of worse two star Michelin restaurants around than this, so its single star seems quite mean to me.Book