First Coast is at the top of Dalry Road, Edinburgh opposite The Good Seed and La Partenope. I’ve been going there for years, for dinner and lunch, celebrations or just when I don’t want to cook. Over the years, I have grown increasingly fond of the place. The food is consistently good and interesting. The menu offers seafood as well as steak, has good vegetarian options and are very accommodating to people with special requests. It’s a perfect neighbourhood restaurant. Yet it never seems as busy as I think it should be.
It’s not that First Coast is quiet. It isn’t. But it’s never so busy that you can’t get a table, either. This is great for locals but I cannot help but think it’s a pity for the restaurant. I think it is a great place and people should flock there. First Coast has the neighbourhood thing down pat. The interior is classy in cool, New England blues, staff is friendly and helpful, the menu is ever-changing and interesting and a night out there is not very expensive.
The last time I went to First Coast was for impromptu lunch. I started by falling in love with the bread: white, warm from the oven and densely sweet. It was the kind of bread that butter exists for. Good bread, as I’ve mentioned before, is a mark of a good restaurant.
They offer a two or three course lunch menu. I opted for a starter and a main and started with a sublime duck egg on buttered onions. The egg was just right: the whites were set and the yolk was runny and rich. The onions were a revelation. I cook with onions almost every day and forget how good they can be when treated as the main ingredient, not just a background flavour. They were sweet and rich.
My main was a barley and couscous pilaf with crunchy onions, balsamic vinegar tomatoes and soft cheese. The flavours and textures of this dish were nicely judged and both interesting and tasty. The soft cheese and the tangy tomatoes popped in the mouth and the crunchy onions gave a pleasant bite to the pilaf.
Lunch: £11 for two courses, £14 for three.