Wedgwood: sparkling service, fabulous flavours and interesting textures

Wedgwood is on the Royal Mile and when we were there, a Monday in December, it was busy if not packed out. We’d been trying to arrange a date for a while: C. really wanted to go but he’s been working down south a lot so it’s been difficult to arrange. It was a real treat when we finally went and I’m pleased that he didn’t miss out. Wedgwood may not be a big restaurant, but it is a great one.

While you choose…

That salmon and scallop tartar made me glad that C's a veggie so I got it all.

That salmon and scallop tartar made me glad that C’s a veggie so I got it all.

Great idea! As you sit down with the menu, have a glass of champagne and a tray of amuse bouches. We did. The Paul Dangin champagne was lovely: crisp and clean, with bags of apples. Our amuse bouches were a salmon and scallop tartar, a ham hock terrine and a leek velouté with curry oil. The tartare was to die for. The delicate flavours balanced each other very well and the portion sizes were perfect. It made us want more. It was decision time.

Starter: Lobster; Blue Cheese

Lobster thermidor with Bloody Mary sorbet and parmesan shortbread. Oh yes.

Lobster thermidor with Bloody Mary sorbet and parmesan shortbread. Oh yes.

Lobster thermidor crème brulee. How can you possible turn that down? It was an easy decision although there was a really good range of dishes on the menu. Strong main ingredients supported by interesting flavours and textures. Scallops and cauliflower korma, stir-fried shredded beef fillet with pear, and Lanarkshire blue cheese risotto bon bons. I loved the lobster crème brulee, It was creamy and rich but came with a Bloody Mary sorbet that helped cut through the cream and a delicious Parmesan shortbread. Hiding at the bottom of the pot were chunks of tender lobster.

Lanarkshire blue bonbon with beetroot pain and cress.

Lanarkshire blue bonbon with beetroot paint and cress.

C. meanwhile has the Lanarkshire blue risotto bonbons which not just attractive but also really good. Crunchy on the outside, soothingly creamy on the inside and with a heart of melting blue cheese, they are happy making bonbons indeed. The cheese was strong enough to be  a presence but not so strong as to drown the rice.

Between dishes we got a palate cleanser of raspberry coulis and drops of lemon sorbet in ginger beer. It was fresh, zingy and did a great job of clearing our palates and minds in preparation for the next dish.

Mains: Rabbit; Fennel

The pass. Oh, what are they preparing now?

The pass. Oh, what are they preparing now?

The restaurant is on two levels: the upstairs is the main dining room and has about 30 covers. It is open and elegant in a relaxed way. We sat where I could look through the pass into the kitchen. It was the perfect seat for a curious writer. The view was interesting: I could see hands and arms, but no faces, except when the reflections of the waiters aligned with the chef’s bodies in the dark copper mirrors of the dining room. The pass and the waiter area are on show which gives an open and friendly feeling to the restaurant. That friendliness is carried through by the staff. Everyone we dealt with was friendly and professional. We were made to feel very welcome. I rather admired the waiter’s outfits: comfortable but smart grey dresses or tunics with the restaurant’s name on the hip.

Our mains looked – and tasted – great. C. had the roast pepper, rocket, pinenut and Orkney grimbister tian, which came with a fennel gratin which I enjoyed a lot. (I always enjoy getting to taste all of C’s dishes even though he can’t taste mine. But I have to, for research.) The tian was simple and very tasty.

Rabbit wrapped in pancetta on a generous bed of wild mushroom.

Rabbit wrapped in pancetta on a generous bed of wild mushroom.

My main was rabbit wrapped in pancetta spinach and wild mushroom, carrot and vanilla puree, shallots and thyme. I’ve enjoyed having flavoured carrot purees recently and the vanilla one that came with the rabbit worked well and balanced the heavy umami flavours of the meat. Delicate pieces of rabbit, tenderly wrapped in pancetta, on a large, comfortable bed of wild mushrooms. Delicious! The mushrooms enveloped me in pangs of nostalgia: we used to go foraging when I was a child and would eat wild mushrooms on toast for weeks in the autumn. I didn’t appreciate it then, but I do now. Dotted around the rabbit were perfect pieces of potato and crunchy bonbons of dark meat. Each element was delicious and tasting them was like unwrapping an early Christmas present. They were gorgeous separately, and great together.

Desserts: Cheese; Coconut

Lanarkshire blue cheesecake and spiced poached pear.

Lanarkshire blue cheesecake and spiced poached pear.

Deciding between cheese and a sweet can be difficult, so it’s great to see a dish like the hazelnut and blue cheesecake with spiced poached pear which gives you both on the one plate. The poached pear was wonderfully seasonal – the poaching liquid was warm with spice and had a good, strong red wine flavour – and served in a separate glass, a good thing since it looked as if it might be jellied. While I ate that, C. focused on the cheesecake which was big on blue cheese flavour and fabulously smooth. Two of the staff recommendations for dessert were honey roast parsnip crème brulee which sounded lovely, and the spiced apple confit, crumble and ginger beer jelly, which also sounded fabulous. The food at Wedgwood has good flavours and interesting textures that let the ingredients shine.

Silky, elegant and perfectly balanced: coconut panacotta with sweet cicely sorbet.

Silky, elegant and perfectly balanced: coconut panacotta with sweet cicely sorbet.

Dessert was a very difficult call but I eventually decided on the coconut panna cotta with sweet cicely sorbet, pistachio crisp and sweet beetroot. The pistachio crisp was lovely and I enjoyed the crunch of it and pistachios with the silky panna cotta. Coconut isn’t usually a flavour I’d go for but I knew this one wouldn’t be overpowering, and I was right. The sweet cicely sorbet, with its clean aniseed flavours, was a perfect accompaniment. I first met sweet cicely a few weeks back when I miss-sold it to a friend by getting the flavour completely wrong. As a result I got to eat her sorbet. (Aniseed is not to everyone’s taste.) A fan of all things anise and licorice, I wish you could get tubs of sweet cicely sorbet. It’s just lovely.

Wedgwood is a great restaurant. We enjoyed everything from the menu and the wine list, to the service, the ambiance, and, of course, the food. Although the size of a neighbourhood restaurant, this is a place to go for a special meal, a place to take time over your meal and really enjoy it.

Wedgwood the Restaurant
Royal Mile, 267 Canongate
Edinburgh, EH8 8BQ
Phone:  0131 558 8737
Fax: 0560 2058978
Email: info@wedgwoodtherestaurant.co.uk

@chefwedgwood

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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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