Pibroch – unapologetically Scottish fare

The corner unit at 20 Holyrood Road was in a different guise the last time I was there. Gone is the Scottish barbecue restaurant with its tin trays and home-made sauces. (Best brisket ever!) Now, there’s a friendly, Scottish family restaurant. I visited between Christmas and New Year, only three weeks into service.

Duck with port and cherry sauce and dauphinoise potatoes.

Duck with port and cherry sauce and dauphinoise potatoes.

Pibroch* is a Scottish restaurant. You know that from the moment you walk in: there’s a bagpipe logo on the door, thistles on the tables and Scottish music on the sound system. The colour scheme is muted and warm in rich neutrals.

I started with kullen skink and Christopher had the tomato and red pepper soup. They were both good: the pepper flavour came through beuatifully in the tomato soup and the kullen skink was smoky and creamy. It looked a little pale but delivered flavour in buckets. Perfect comfort food on a dark, dank evening (Edinburgh in December).

Creamy and smokey, just as it should be.

Creamy and smoky, just as it should be.

For my main, I went with duck. It came with dauphinoise potatoes and a port and cherry sauce. Ever so suitable for the season. The potatoes were soft and creamy, the meat well cooked and flavoursome. I enjoyed the swetness of the sauce and the fact that there were whole cherries in it.

Christopher went traditional and had the vegetarian haggis, neeps and tatties. It’s a more difficult dishto get right than you might think: haggis easily goes dry so it needs moist mash and juicy neeps, and, ideally, lashings of sauce on the side. It’s also peppery and salty so the accompaniements don’t need as much seasoning. At least not to those of us who are habitually stingy with the salt cellar.

I drank white wine with dinner, Christopher had a half of Edinburgh Beer Factory’s latest, Bunk, a dark ale (I thought it was half-way to a porter, Christopher said it was closer to an 80:-) before joining me. The drinks list is limited – no doubt it will expand over time.

For dessert, I had the Edinburgh fog, a concoction of cream, toffee sauce and honeycomb. It was lovely and very rich. I couldn’t eat all of it: too fuil. Christopher had an equally filling frangipane apple and pear tart, the base crunchy with caramel and the filling soft.

Edinburgh fog: thick and sweet.

Edinburgh fog: thick and sweet.

We finished with coffees and whisky, enjoying petit fours of perfect short bread, tablet and coconut creams. We’d talked to the three servers about how the restaurant had been going and were interested to find that they’re getting a good amount of business from nearby hotels. Their selling point is traditional Scottish food, cooked well. It’s a good niche to be in. The night we went, there was a party in to celebrate, dressed up in their finest, cheerful and happy, as well as a family (we guessed American from his back muscles and baseball cap combo), as well as couples like us and a single or two. A delightfully mixed audience, all served with cheer and welcome.

Chewin' the fat after a good meal.

Chewin’ the fat after a good meal. Particularly fond of the short bread.

* A form of bagpipe music.

Pibroch Scottish Restaurant

20 Holyrood Road
Edinburgh, EH88AF

Telephone: 0131 629 3733

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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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