La Petite Mort opens a porthole on a new world of cocktails

You know the feeling? It’s raining, and windy, and your gloves got wet at the bus stop and didn’t dry on the bus. You’re running late, hareing through the city. I had that night last Tuesday. But see, I knew there was a cocktail, lovingly prepared for me (me!), waiting at La Petite Mort. It’s the kind of thing that warms you right up and keeps you smiling in the rain.

Yes, we put a light behind it so you can get the full glory of the stained glass effect of the porthole. And, in the shadows, my chin.

Yes, we put a light behind it so you can get the full glory of the stained glass effect of the porthole. And, in the shadows, my chin.


Amy reviewed La Petite Mort about 18 months ago. She really enjoyed it. She enjoyed it so much, I booked my (freelancer’s) Christmas dinner there. At the time, I meant to order a porthole to wait for us when we arrived, but I plumb forgot.

They are such a great idea: special containers into which you can put anything and La Petite Mort kindly put fruit, herbs, spices and pletny of alcohol. The concontions are then left to infuse for at least 24 hours. The result is equally good to drink and look at. I really like the idea of our-ordering your aperitif this way, the thought of it infusing, waiting for me, is really pleasing.

La Petite Mort is the only bar in Scotland where you can have a porthole cocktail. It’s worth seeking it out. We had the Basin Street, a combination of Makers Mark bourbon, triple sec, agave nectar and lemon juice. It infused with orange and lemon peel and slices of orange. It’s gloriously heady and packs a punch of orange and bourbon. Well balanced, it reminded me (unsurprisingly considering the ingredients) of a bourbon margarita.

To keep you tantalised, the cocktail menu changes every few month. This month, the Aviator looks interesting, and the Apple Cart looks scrumptious.

You can’t live on portholes alone

To ensure that we didn’t fall over on our way home, we ate as well as drank. I started with the pork belly and black pudding. Utterly delicious. The belly was soft as butter, the black pudding deep and dark in flavour. The cocktail worked perfectly with the deliciously fatty meat: a bright counterpoint.

Christopher had the courgette raviola with a Thai-spiced (really quite spicy!) cream.

The Basin Street porthole, raviolo, bavarois and sea bream with spätzle.

The Basin Street porthole, raviolo, bavarois and sea bream with spätzle.

My main was an unexpected fusion dish of sea bream, spätzle (soft German hand-shaped pasta or dumplings) in a Thai green curry sauce. It worked really well. Spätzle tend towards the bland and comforting, the sauce fought off any thoughts of beige plates. The fish was perfectly cooked.

Christopher’s beetroot risotto cakes were crispy on the outside, pleasingly pink on the inside and came served with spinach and the cutest picked veg ever. The little sparks of acidity were welcome.

Christopher opted for his standard dessert – a double espresso – and I found room for the apple bavarois. The firm mousse had a subtle apple flavour (I was back on the cocktail by now – it might have overshadowed the dessert) and came with fresh raspberries and lovely cooked apples.

Charm and style

We were the last to leave. Not because we are terrible guests but because it was a Tuesday night and we’d only sat down at half seven. We had a lovely evening. The cocktail was a fab way to start a meal, a talking point and a work-day-eraser. The food was great, the service charming and attentive.

La Petite Mort is a small, intimate restaurant. The dark blue-grey interior is calming and stylish, the feel somewhere between causal and elegant. I felt at home immediately.

The matchisticks of apples on top of the pork belly are fresh and crunchy: the black pudding below is rich and soft.

The matchisticks of apples on top of the pork belly are fresh and crunchy: the black pudding and pancetta disk below is rich and soft.

The food at La Petite Mort is interesting. Most dishes offer a twist: orange in the salmon mousse, chestnuts in the potato gratin (genius, I tell you), Asian flavours to accompany European dishes. Ingredients are carefully selected and well cooked. There’s a range of dishes, covering meat, fish and veg, so there should be something for everyone. There’s definitely something for us: we’ll be back.

La Petite Mort

32 Valleyfield Street
Edinburgh EH3 9LR
Telephone: 0131 229 3693
info@lapetitemortedinburgh.co.uk

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Caroline was invited to drink and dine by La Petite Mort.

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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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