‘Every time I walk down Morrison Street, it has changed completely’ a friend said the other day. It is a street of rapid change, especially in the middle. When I heard that a cocktail bar and restaurant was opening opposite EICC, I was intrigued. I was pleased to get an invite to come back to taste the menu after Amy and I attended the launch party a few weeks back.
On rainy evening – we’ve had a few of those recently – Christopher and I turned up early for a booking. I promise you that doesn’t happen when the sun is shining. We were given one of the booths so were comfortably away from the main restaurant traffic.
The interior is bright and cheerful, softly neutral walls, chalk boards, yellow and black upholstery, metal accents, shining glass. The dining room is small so tables are close together. The seating area at the back has a large window overlooking the back garden and lets in a wonderful green light on a summers evening. It’s a great place for groups.
We’ve sat at the bar before. I like a good cocktail and the ones I’ve tried here – Dawn Chorus and Femme Fatal – were tasty. Dawn Chorus is my favourite: Daffy’s Gin, sake, plum syrup and a misting of absinthe. It speaks to the Scott-goth in me. There are bar snacks – venison slider, smoked chicken, monkfish cheek scampi and more – to ensure you don’t overdo the booze. We were in for dinner so went straight for a bottle of picpoul and the main menu.
All about the fish
I decided to go all out for food from the sea, starting with gin-cured salmon served with a tomato crème fraîche and an oat biscuit. The plating was gorgeous: I enjoyed the 3D ring of biscuit almost as much as the salmon. The crème fraîche was gorgeous: sweet and savoury at the same time.
Christopher had two options to chose from, decided against soup and went for asparagus. He enjoyed the tender grilled spears with the paneer. Because he’s vegetarian, his option is often asparagus with Hollandaise sauce so he enjoyed a different take on the vegetable.
I was tempted by the pan-fried hake but was won over by the stuffed squid. It was beautifully cooked and very tasty, if a little saltier than I would have made it. There was a lot of flavour on the generously sized plate: chorizo and tomato compote, squid, stuffing and an aromatic roast garlic mayonnaise. I was very full when I’d cleaned the plate.
Christopher’s broccoli fritters were bright green and served with a deliciously savoury spelt and mushroom mixture. We had a good chat with the server about vegetarian options and restaurants in Edinburgh* as well as what was good on the menu. We had personable service all night and felt very welcome.
Rounding off the evening
My answer to the question ‘Room for dessert?’ is almost always yes. This time was no exception. We both thought the apple meringue sounded interesting but, after some swithering, Christopher went for the chocolate blackcurrant brownie and I had the passion fruit tart.
Both were very attractively presented. My tart was full of passion fruit flavour and crunchy-silky textures. The filling was softer than I think the chef wanted it, but there was nothing wrong with the flavour. The accompanying coconut ice cream was good too. The brownie was as chocolatey as you’d want it to be and the clotted cream ice cream was lush.
The other diners that night were an interesting mixture of people working in the area, couples on dates and bar flies out for a cocktail. Traffic was constant – Ishka appears to already be popular. If you like an interesting cocktail or enjoy an imaginative menu, give Ishka a go.
83 Morrison Street
Telephone: 0131 228 7517
Booking email: email@example.com
Caroline dined at the invitation of Ishka.