Praline cheesecake and vanilla icecreamMore pictures
After battling and beating my fish demons at Ondine for the second trip of my Edinburgh week I wanted something a bit more safe and with a bit more variety – an 8 course tasting menu from recent up and coming (though by now after a string of awards and an appearance on Great British Menu it’s safe to say that he has now come up?) Scottish chef Mark Greenaway sounded like plenty enough options to get a taste of some more pure Scottish ingredients.
The days amuse bouche was a delightfully airy mushroom espuma (soup delivered though a pressurised canister) given a couple of bites of sweetness from some pine-nuts. As you spooned up each mouthful you could still see the bubbles forming which I thought was rather nice, it literally must have been made the second before it arrived. I was complaining about the lack of scallop (we only got the one) at Ondine so I was happy to get one all to myself here and it once again added fuel to the already burning fire of Scottish seafood being a cut above that which I’ve become used to in London. It had the texture of a perfectly cooked steak, a sweet taste and some extra bite provided with a coral crust. The accompanying jelly was a bit weird, not sure if it was tomato or cucumber (menu says tomato) and a little awkward to get on the same fork as the rest of the dish but it did so well to clean the palate.
I had seen rabbit on a few menus while walking about town but had avoided it up to now as, hypocritically considering all things I do eat, I think of them as too cute to eat. When I saw the plate of terrine topped with a carrot being walked towards us I knew I would have to take one of the team and again I annoyingly found myself liking it. The varying cuts pressed together were rich and rather had a dark meat taste, highlighted with the varying types of cooked carrot and nuts. A smooth pea veloute was overshadowed by some deliciously meaty Scottish mushrooms as we completed the starter courses.
Heading back to the sea a thick fillet of moist halibut was topped with a gloriously crisp skin and served alongside another amazing oyster, this one poached in butter and topped with a spiced foam. The accompanying turnip felt a little bit out of place and I was a bit confused by the herb ‘crust’ as it sat underneath everything but the two main stars of the dish stood out and it was at least a tasty confusion with the other stuff as they both tasted good on their own.
For me the final main course of pork belly and spiced fillet was the star of the show. It looked a bit like a dish that I’ve had many times before – slab of pork belly, couple of slices or fillet, some mash, apple sauce and cabbage but there were a few things that stood it apart. The spice on the fillet which made it taste smoked and even more meaty than normal but the toffee apple sauce did an amazing job in tying everything together and adding in an extra layer of indulgence and enjoyment as you managed to pile mash, pork, cracking and sauce onto a fork.
After a welcome rest where I wallowed in the enjoyment of pork we got onto the desserts and were presented with a lovely combination of ice-cream (vanilla and praline cheesecake) and crisp texture from a nutty pistachio granola and a boozy kick from some rum soaked raisins; I could have eaten a lot more of this than I was given even though by this time I was starting to feel rather full.
Our main dessert was a broken down (or deconstructed) lemon tart with the rather weird inclusion of compacted watermelon, something that I would never put anywhere near a lemon tart if I was having one on it’s own. I could see what was trying to be done but while we had some extra sharpness provided by a yuzu parfait I was expecting much more of that taste to come from the actual lemon bit that I thought were rather tame. The watermelon while certainly compacted didn’t do much more than be a semi-sweet ice cube and freezing the shortbread didn’t really make it tastier than if it was left alone and served cold. A bit of a shame to end the meal like that but I’m sure on another day the dessert would be ace; I had a peak over to a nearby table to see 2012 Great British Menu dish (his entire 2012 menu is available to order) of broken down Eton Mess and it looked rather amazing.
All the staff were friendly and chatty though with two large parties in the restaurant on the night we were in all non-essential operations, like giving us the bill, felt a bit strained. The matched wines with each of the courses were each perfect choices and of a good size and highlighted the good attention to detail that I felt was prevalent across the meal which had a number of nice little touches and food additions that elevated dishes above what could have been a standard meal someplace else. I had an initial grumble of the amuse being included as part of the 8 courses but I didn’t leave feeling empty or tempted by a deep fried mars bar I saw for sale from a nearby chip shop; I think I will save such delights for another day….Tweet