The Atelier is an elegant, under-stated restaurant on Morrison Street, Edinburgh. The large glass windows that face the street hide an oasis of calm. Chairs are comfortable and the colour scheme sticks to welcoming and warm browns, reds and oranges which suits the slate wall in the main dining space. Service is friendly, attentive and unobtrusive. I already knew this because C and I went to The Atelier for my birthday last year. I also knew that the food is good so we were delighted to be invited to review.
The menu is written in a restrained style: each dish has a title followed by a list of other ingredients. It makes for evocative reading as you imagine a dish in your head. I enjoyed not knowing exactly what I was getting – what would be cooked, oiled, powdered or candied. While we studied the menu and asked questions about one or two ingredients I hadn’t come across before, we nibbled bread with home-made pesto of a wonderful, bright green. That refreshing colour became a constant throughout the meal, even my dessert had a spring-green accent on it.
To start, I had scallops (Serrano jamón, baby figs, Jerusalem artichoke, nasturtium). The scallops were hidden under nasturtium leaves, as if they were shy, and I enjoyed uncovering and devouring them. The mini figs added sweetness and crunch, the nasturtium a hint of pepper.
C, meanwhile, had a vintage Cheddar soufflé with pumpkin and sunflower pesto, and broccoli. It has a lovely light texture, moist and cheesy in equal measure.
At the table next to us sat a couple who were having the 8 Moments of Discovery Journey, The Atelier’s tasting menu, with matched wine. They enjoyed the dishes as much as we did, and took great pleasure in the wines. I enjoyed eavesdropping on their delight and peeking at the dishes. The wild trout dish, with its Scotch egg, looked gorgeous, and the pigeon looked perfectly cooked.
My main was lamb: fillet and slow-cooked shoulder, lentils, dukkha, pomegranate yogurt. It was a beautifully presented dish that offered a variety of flavours and textures. The shoulder was soft, the fillet perfectly pink and juicy. The lentils, and the roasted carrots, were rich and earthy, lifted by the acidity of yogurt and the crunch of lettuce. There was a hint of something smokey in there too. A very satisfying dish.
C had rotolo – rolls of pasta – with goats cheese, spinach, winter chanterelles, beetroot and marjoram. The plateful of delicate rolls in shades of white and green looked dramatic against a dark red beetroot puré. I enjoyed my mouthful of chanterelle and C spoke highly of the balance of beetroot and cheese.
To accompany our meal I’d chosen a grüner veltliner that had the body for lamb and the mineral accents for fish and dessert. It was delicious.
What’s in a name?
Considering the restaurant’s artistic name, it’s not surprising that each plate is a work of art. They have a variety of attractive crockery and use it to great effect. My dessert, demurely named ‘Rhubarb (blood orange, set cream, fennel, financier, roquette, rhubarb sorbet)’ was the prettiest thing I’ve eaten in a while. It was also very, very good. The rhubarb was perfectly soft in texture, a most delicious colour, and set off beautifully with green specks of rocket, tangy charred and sugared fennel, and sedate financiers. I loved every mouthful.
In our excitement, we forgot to ask detailed questions about ingredients – in particular setting agents – so I also enjoyed Cs bavarois while he enjoyed the hibiscus ice cream and caramel cream accompaniments. The bavarois itself was dense with white chocolate, not too sweet and served with a porcupine spine of crunchy parsnip crisps.
We ended our meal with espressos and petite four. The chocolate financiers were particularly good, soft and almondy with lovely cocoa nib crunch. I also enjoyed the blackcurrant jelly and was not at all sad to eat Cs too.
I have no idea what the weather had been like while we were at dinner, or what happened in the world. Our time in The Atelier was a precious bubble of calm and good food where we talked and forgot about everything else. I was refreshed and very content when we left.
159-161 Morrison Street
Edinburgh, EH3 8AG
Telephone: 0131 629 1344
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