I went to Edinburgh Larder Bistro for my birthday last year. That was my first time, but not the last. Edinburgh Larder is one of my favourite restaurants at the moment, so I was rather pleased to be asked to go there to review it. As usual, I had a glamorous companion in tow.
We were in for a treat.
Edinburgh Larder Café is on Blackfriar Street, a small, deli-style café that competes with Earthy in the salad stakes. The café caters for breakfast and lunch and then the Bistro takes over in the evening. The two places have different atmospheres but share a food ethos. The Bistro is on Alva Street, in a down-stairs unit I remember from when it was Bouzy Rouge, many years ago. The interior has been through a few changes since then but it is still a relaxed, cheerful space. We sat in the back, in what was once a tiny outside area and is now a room a little away from the hubbub of the main restaurant spaces.
I started with black pudding on brioche with a soft boiled quail’s egg on top. I’m a great fan of black pudding and it’s sturdy flavour was framed rather nicely by the creamy, yolk-rich egg and the sweet brioche. It also came with a dollop of home-made brown sauce which was wonderfully fruity. I’m not usually a fan of brown sauce but this I enjoyed.
Meanwhile, my companion had the scallop with ham hough and nettle puré. It was a really pretty dish as well as a tasty one: the bright green pure looked vibrant next to the pink ham hough and the demurely creamy scallop. Cooked to perfection it was sweet, salty and creamy all at the same time.
Moving on to Mains
Yes, I was brought up with the idea that you start with fish and move on to red meat but I usually do it the other way around. So for mains I had the fish of the day (hake) with heritage potatoes, beetroot and radishes. The fish was perfect: flaky, tender and with a crispy skin. Beetroot complements white fish well with its earthy flavour and almost crunchy texture. The radishes were a nice, refreshingly crunchy addition.
On the other side of the table was a glamorous plate of duck with a beef cheek croquette, layered potatoes and a red wine jus. It was just as yummy as it sounds.
We had a side of sweet potato chips just because. Sweet potato is soft and soothing, sweet and almost fudgy in chip form. They worked well with fish and meat both.
A Sweet End
Carrot ice cream. That swung my dessert choice. The green tea ice cream was tempting, and the cheese board looked great, but the chocolate fondant came with beetroot granita and carrot ice cream so chocolate fondant it had to be. The fondant was chocolatey and gooey in a very pleasing way. The beetroot granita refreshing. The carrot ice cream was a little more interesting on paper than it was on the plate – it was a smooth and had a lovely colour but I didn’t get quite the carrot hit I expecting. Saying that, it tasted good, and the trio of flavours were fun together.
My companion is a cheese fan (it strikes me that many of my companions are) and had the cheese board and chose Blue Monday and Morangie Brie. Both were perfectly ripe and full of flavour. The home made oatcakes were crumbly and very moreish – I could cheerfully have eaten them with a spoonful of chutney on top.
Edinburgh Larder Bistro always gives a warm welcome and interesting food from local producers. Some of the ingredients are foraged and it doesn’t get more local or seasonal than that. Foraged ingredients are used inventively – I have fond memories of a sweet cicely sorbet, and the nettle pure with the scallops added colour and flavour.
Edinburgh Larder support the Slow Food campaign. Everything they do shows their commitment to serving great food that’s seasonal, sustainable and Scottish.
1A Alva St, Edinburgh EH2 4PH