In Search of Soufflé

Last summer the Great British Bake Off contestants were challenged to bake a soufflé. Watching them attempt light and airy perfection it occurred to my friend Ciara and I that we hadn’t eaten soufflé before. (Gasp!) So not long after we launched our quest to find the best in Edinburgh, on a mission we dubbed ‘Soufflé Sunday,’ which we followed up a few months later with a second adventure, ‘March on Soufflé.’

The trickier preparation process and longer cooking time of a soufflé make it a great menu item for comparison, as it’s just rare enough to be found in some restaurants but not all. This means we had some choice with our first three restaurants and our first three soufflés, visiting David Bann, Galvin Brasserie de Luxe and the less glamorous but geographically convenient, Cafe Rouge.

As Soufflé Sunday evolved we realised strict criteria were needed to fairly assess these light eggy delights. Consequently we devised four rules. Firstly, unlike books, soufflé must be judged on their appearance. Twice. Initially, upon arrival and then subsequently after being pierced and deflating. Rule three concerned internal ooziness and last but by no means least, rule four addressed flavour. Alright then. On with the eating then.

At David Bann we enjoyed a luxuriously rich dark chocolate soufflé under a heavy snowfall of icing sugar. Not too sweet, it had the dryness of quality chocolate whilst retaining its moist sponge and was well complimented by a side of berries and vanilla ice cream. A solid 4/5 and off to a good start.

At Galvin Brasserie de Luxe the rhubarb soufflé had a foamy, candy-pink middle that contrasted well with its lip-smacking tartness. But in hindsight it was too buttery, leaving an unsatisfactory aftertaste and an oily residue. Still, 4/5.

Our experience at Cafe Rouge wasn’t great, but we’ll focus on the twice baked disappointment that was their soufflé. It was lacklustre, deflated and floppy, although it did redeem itself in its surprisingly cheesy flavour. 3/5.

Round 2 of our soufflé search, so-called “March on Soufflé,” saw visits to Contini Cannonball, Martin Wishart’s The Honours and La Garrigue. As with our first adventure, our inaugural soufflé was the strongest player that day.

At Cannonball the charming waitstaff were not only friendly and helpful but also understanding and curious about our little endeavour. That said, there were first soufflé nerves after the waitress whispered, ‘chef was having an awful time with his soufflé last night!’  

But it seemed that was all in the past now, as we were delighted with our twice baked Loch Arthur cheddar soufflé. It came with a well balanced spinach and nutmeg puree and its exterior was crisp, like a well-made Yorkshire pudding. Although there wasn’t much ooze due to its twice bakedness, we found it surprisingly light and fluffy. It was very tasty too, cheesy throughout and stimulating on the taste buds with its deep savouriness. 4/5

I wanted to eat everything on the menu at The Honours – and perhaps the staff wanted to me to as well – but we stuck to the theme of the day. They do a ‘soufflé du jour’ (amazing!) and our visit’s passionfruit with roasted pineapple and milk chocolate pieces didn’t disappoint. An incredible tower of whipped egg in shades of bronze and butter yellow, it held itself together with aplomb, despite its delicate internal constitution. The depth of flavour was impressive, especially in the pineapple, although its cocoa-coating left a slightly bitter burnt flavour. However, the way it came away perfectly from the edges of the ramekin was extremely satisfying. 3.5/5

For our last stop, we made our way across town to La Garrigue where we had a soft, plump Roquefort soufflé, not quite as airy as its predecessor, with radish and endive salad. Contrary to my expectations, the Roquefort came through mostly in the finish rather than being the protagonist of the dish. The salad was a good accompaniment though; a bright, crunchy number that provided contrast. 3/5

So where next for our soufflé quest? Well we’ve already decided to hold round 3 in May and have dubbed it “May the Soufflé Be With You.” We’ll be visiting ever-busy Michael Neave, tucked away on a lane off the Cowgate, and The Atelier, as recently reviewed by Caroline. But we’re still looking for a third outlet. Any suggestions?

(Secretly, I’m hoping we can detour to Danielle’s house and try her souffle…)

David Bann, 56-58 St Mary’s St, EH1 1SX – Facebook

Galvin Brasserie de Luxe, Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh The Caledonian, Rutland St, EH1 2AB – @galvinbrasserie

Cafe Rouge, 43 Frederick St, EH2 1EP – @caferougetweet

Contini Cannonball, 356 Castlehill, EH1 2NF – @continibites

The Honours, 58A North Castle St, EH2 3LU – @thehonours

La Garrigue, 31 Jeffrey St EH1 1DH – @lagarriguerest

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About AmyB

I gleefully work for Mara Seaweed, promoting sea vegetables via social media. As you do. I have an encyclopaedic knowledge of Edinburgh's eating options, achieved through an unrivalled dedication to consuming everything the city has to offer.

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