Brunswick Street is tucked in to the area between Elm Row and London Road. The row of houses that No 11 is part of is surprisingly elegant. They break with the rest of the street: elegant pillars hold porticoes that double a balconies over the entrance. The buildings are four stories, three above ground and one below, set back from the pavement so there’s light in the basement too.
No 11 stands out even among this collection of houses. Its pillars and wall are painted a rich, clean gray. No 11 is one of Edinburgh’s newest boutique hotels. I went there for the launch of the No 11 Hotel and Brasserie.
The hotel is beautifully restored and the rooms luxurious. It’s a small hotel and each of the 10 rooms have their own individual character. I enjoyed the hallway, with its beautiful tiles floor, bowed by years of rough treatment, and the tall staircase. The room we saw was also gorgeous: deep teal walls, a four poster bed and a luxurious bath tub made it a place I’d love to stay. But of course, since this is Edinburgh Foody, we’re even more interested in the food than the rooms.
The brasserie is in the front room, a typically Georgian room with tall ceilings and elegant proportions. Diners should be comfortable here. To make it more comfortable, as well as an interesting and interactive space, it’s also a gallery. When I was there, the walls were hung with colourful pictures by Chloë Gardner. They form a conversation point as well as decoration. The brasserie aims to offer “top class food in a relaxed environment“, to quote Susan Grant, one of the two owners. Susan and husband Hamish, wants No 11 to be more than just a place where people sleep. The brasserie is open for lunch, dinner and luxury afternoon tea.
Ryan Smith is the head chef. He wants to serve healthy, delicious food. Dishes that are well cooked and shows off the ingredient’s best side. He’s working on snacks and dips that are healthy as well as delicious. He thinks food should be local and seasonal, with all the flavour and colour kept in. He works with local suppliers for everything from breads through meats, cheeses, chocolate and coffee.
Ryan wants the dining experience to be social and fluid. If you want to have several starters, or one main course, you can.
We tried some home made chips and vegetable leathers with home made dips, and a rather pleasing mackerel on crisp bread. From the main selection, I enjoyed the lamb with a young and very sharp lime pickle. The lime pickle worked well with the lamb and I enjoyed the texture and tart flavour of the peel on the generous lime wedges.
These dishes are not yet on the menu. The sample dinner stays traditional and safe with Scottish favourites like cullen skink, scallops and black pudding, wild mushroom barley risotto and smoked venison. Ryan mentioned varying portion sizes and as a meat eater with a tall vegetarian boyfriend, I know how useful that could be. The vegetarian main is often a tiny little thing, not at all sized for a regular appetite. It’ll be interesting to go back for a full meal.
11 Brunswick Street
Edinburgh, EH7 5JB
Tel: +44(0)131 5576910
Photos courtesy of The Big Partnership.