Gardener’s Cottage Restaurant, Edinburgh

Gardener's Cottage Restaurant, Edinburgh

Gardener’s Cottage Restaurant, Edinburgh

We’re delignted to report that the Gardener’s Cottage is now open. It’s a lovely warm space located just off London Road set in a burgeoning garden. The food is simple, honest and full of flavour. You’ll sit on communal tables and soak up the atmosphere – and watch the guys cook at the same time. We loved the fresh tastes including a wonderful pea and lovage cold soup and gorgeous crispy toasts with variou toppings.

Welcome to the Gardener's Cottage

Welcome to the Gardener’s Cottage

So here we’ll let you read how they started refining their menus.

It was a sunny – if brisk – April morning. In a break with tradition, I got up early and headed to the Edinburgh farmers’ market at Castle Terrace, for a 10 o’clock brunch served by The Gardener’s Cottage pop-up restaurant. The white-clothed table was set with flowers and Queen’s Green china. The sun shone on the castle cliff and serious shoppers were arriving in droves as we took our seats. Pretzels and Virgin Marys beckoned.

This is what I call cooking al fresco.

This is what I call cooking al fresco.

The Gardener’s Cottage opens in July. The owners, Dale Mailley and Edward Murray, have taken the cute-as-a-button gardener’s cottage in Royal Terrace Gardens, at the foot of Calton Hill (on the Leith side). The building  has stood empty for a long time is being refurbished before Dale and Edward can move in. Between the two, they have 15 years of experience and have worked in a number of well-known restaurants: The Kitchin, the Atrium, Blue, Café St Honoré and The Outsider. While they wait for the restoration to be finished, their practicing their skills and cooking in pop-up restaurants at the Castle Terrace Farmers’ Market, and, at the end of the May, at the Hopetoun Farm Shop.

An outdoors pop-up restaurant in Scotland doesn’t sound like the best idea ever,  but it is. Wrap up and pop along. It’s good fun as well as delicious eating. I went on my own but chatted with my fellow diners and watched the chefs cook our food on a hotplate. I also saw them start preparing lunch. Smoked pigs cheeks sound yum and the smoke smelled wonderful.

Mmm. A thing of beauty. Add butter and jam and enjoy with a cup of coffee.

Mmm. A thing of beauty. Add butter and jam and enjoy with a cup of coffee.

So what did we eat? We started with a delicious pretzel from Falko Konditormeister (where Edward was head chef). I like pretzels. I’ve only had pretzels with mustard or cheese before but can tell you that they go wonderfully with farmhouse butter and strawberry jam too. With the pretzels we had our Virgin Marys, made with the year’s first batch of tomatoes – delicate tomato and Tabasco concoctions that tasted truly virtuous. There was also organic apple juice and lashings of really nice coffee. And blankets. Tasteful black blankets that really made a difference wrapped around my knees.

It looks inviting, doesn't it?

It looks inviting, doesn’t it?

For the main attraction there was smoked haddock and poached eggs on a bed of wilted spinach. It was lovely. I have mentioned my love for a well poached egg before. These were perfect and sat on flaky smoked haddock.  It was really tasty. The smoky flavour of the haddock was enhanced by the little wafts of smoke that came from the smoking lunch. Based on what I’ve seen and tasted so far, I really look forward to visiting the restaurant when it opens.

Having eaten my full, and topped up on coffee, I shouldered my tote and went off to forage for dinner. What a perfect start to the day!

The Gardener’s Cottage
Royal Terrace Gardens, Edinburgh

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About Caroline von Schmalensee

Cooking, eating and drinking is fun as well as necessary. I do food for fun and I write for a living. Good food makes the world a more delicious and satisfying place. Good writing, meanwhile, can make the world a less confusing place.


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