There was plenty of hype around Aizle-offshoot Noto when it opened in August. As a long time fan of Stuart Ralston’s first venture, I was excited to visit.
Halfway along delightful Thistle Street, Noto is in a fantastic spot to attract trendy diners seeking a bite to eat and a drink. Inside, there’s a warm welcome and beautiful modern decor in shades of stone; a setting that would make Queer Eye’s Bobby proud.
Let’s tuck in: small dishes to start
The menu offered lots of small dishes, as well as a few larger ones. They arrived at different times, overlapping, giving plenty to tuck into (read: fight over) at any one time.
I love an oyster, so we had to start with those. Simple, effective and classy, the oyster with cucumber mignonette and dill was fresh and creamy with a lightly pickled crunch. They were so good we needed two more…
We continued in pursuit of seafood, following with the north sea crab, warm butter and sourdough. It actually seemed to be mostly butter with limited crab, and was served with very crisp bread – we were hoping to do more mopping. Still, the dish was widely agreed to be delicious: as we left, casting our eyes over the other tables, it looked like everyone had ordered some.
Bigger dishes, still with fishes
For me though the cured trout with mustard and apple was the fishy highlight. Thick cut, soft slices of radiant orange trout were delicately flavoured with dashi in a way that made you want to slurp them, like noodles, to get as much of that umami flavour to coat your mouth as possible. I could have eaten it for days.
By comparison, the succulent wild halibut – a ‘mains’ portion of that day’s “day boat fish” – was struggling a little under its accompanying sauce, chicken butter. It veered between being a little too salty for my tastes and fuelling a desperate need for a bread basket, so as not to waste a precious drop of the meaty, savoury, melted buttery goodness.
Our other main-sized dish was fried buttermilk chicken and kimchi mayo in a brioche bun. A playful addition to the menu, it was undeniably tasty, but… In my opinion, when you excel at beautifully plated cured trout, you should leave this sort of cuisine to the experts. If you’ve ever had a Jones and Son chicken burger or the life-changing Buffalo Truck buttermilk chicken, you’ll know what I mean. Delicious though it was, this just wasn’t crispy enough, or outrageously messy enough.
On to dessert
In some respects, this would be the real test as my dining companion for the night was herself a pastry chef. Fortunately, the chocolate mousse with miso caramel and hazelnut was all the joy you’d hope it to be. A tall, soft meringue sat on top of whipped dark chocolate, intertwined with moreish miso and a small crunch of hazelnut. Yes please.
Finally, the Scottish raspberry creme diplomat tart combined soft plump fruit, ‘proper’ custard and a delicate pastry case. I was the more impressed of the two of us, but we agreed that whilst mostly decorative, the nasturtium leaves were a nice touch both in colour and as an herbal counterpoint.
Along with wine by the glass and a beer or two from a select range, the bill came to a reasonable sum. You could go wild of a Friday night and eat many things, at least as much as we did. Or you could have a nibble or two on a post-work catch up and feel sated and sophisticated. Either way, Noto is a great addition to the Edinburgh foody landscape.
47A Thistle Street, EH2 1DY
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