Scottish, fresh, seasonal food at Edinburgh Larder Bistro
Edinburgh Larder Bistro
1a Alva Street, Edinburgh EH2 4PH
t. 0131 225 4599 www.edinburghlarder.co.uk
Mon-Sat. 12 noon-2.30pm. 5.30pm-10pm. Archipelago Bakery –9am-5pm
Edinburgh Larder Bistro opened in the summer of 2012 with the serious aim to source and serve fresh, Scottish seasonal good food. It’s all about tradition too, foraging and harvesting produce in season then making pickles and preserves. The Archipelago Artisan Bakery has just opened (November 2013), within the Bistro, selling various breads and yummy cakes.
The quirky, cosy Basement bothy was previously the address of Bouzy Rouge and then Howies over recent years. Little has changed in terms of layout, with traditional flagstone floor, a row of booths in the front room, a square dining area and glass roofed conservatory. The furniture was renovated using old lobster creels, fruit crates and tables created from former scaffolding boards.
The Larder Bistro is very proud of their specialist Artisan suppliers hand picked for quality – a shame they are not credited on the menu!.
Check out the website and you’ll see that Venison comes from the Great Glen estates, beef and lamb from Peelham Farm, seafood from Welch fishmongers and Creelers’ Smokehouse, vegetables from Phantassie, cheese from St. Andrews Farmhouse Company, Beers from the Black Isle brewery, et al.
On a chilly Friday in early December I visited for lunch with my friend Fiona. We were given the A la Carte menu, which is served for Lunch and Dinner.
After studying all the (rather expensive) choices, we then noticed a tiny Asterisk symbol ** against a few dishes and down at the foot of the page, ** set menu lunch, £12 – 2 courses/ £15 – 3 courses. It’s obviously a closely guarded secret as our waitress did not let us know of this special good value offer.
After due consideration, I selected the Pan fried smoked Rainbow Trout with wild mushrooms and mixed leaves. Fiona chose the Beetroot and Crowdie cheese salad. We also ordered bread to nibble while we waited, (extra charge). The thick slices of brown bread with soft herb butter was home made but rather heavy.
And so to our two healthy Starters. My Smoked Trout was served warm, deliciously flaky, with sweet salad leaves and tiny wild mushrooms (woodland chanterelles I think), dotted around the plate. A very small portion, but exquisitely crafted with a unique earthy, smoky richness.
Fiona meanwhile was enjoying her dish of Roasted shallot, caramelised beetroot and creamy cheese winter salad: “… really delicious with good flavours and textures, and just the right amount of dressing”.
With our starters we sipped a refreshing, crisp and light Sicilian white wine, (Grillo Ca’ Di Ponti), one of the House wines (five white and red) all selected from Continental Europe.
I am a Pescatarian with a passion for all seafood and shellfish. Therefore I was disappointed that two dishes on the menu combine fish with meat. Scallops with cured ham, Mussels with smoked bacon. Carnivores have a good choice elsewhere with Slow cooked Beef cheek and Braised Goose. Even the Chips are cooked in beef dripping (vegetarian chips available on request). Please leave fish, just fishy!
And so on to the main courses. For my dining companion, Chestnut pie with barley and cabbage, while I chose the Purple Potato and Celeriac Terrine. I was intrigued by the Purple spuds which come from Carrolls Heritage Farm in Northumberland, “Potatoes like they used to taste”.
Not sure about that. The Terrine was a very small parcel of rather tasteless crunchy vegetables served with a mound of old fashioned coleslaw. Fiona’s Pie was more hearty although the nut and barley mix tasted rather dry. “If I had known that the pie was accompanied by a jug of gravy this might have helped.”
The gravy was brought, unnoticed by us, several minutes later, with our side order of Vegetables (extra charge) – uninspiring boiled potatoes, sprouting broccoli and carrots.
The range of Desserts are certainly imaginative, Christmas pudding parfait with hazelnut crumble and sheep milk ice-cream, Warm Pear and cobnut cake with marshmallow ice-cream, as well as Cheese platter with oatcakes.
We were also offered to select a cake from the new Achipelago Bakery at the front of the Bistro. This was ideal to have with our coffee. The selection is superb and suitable for all diets – gluten free Brownies, Coffee and Walnut cake, Clementine and Almond Drizzle Loaf “Gorgeous!” said Fiona.
The bakery was doing good take away business too with people calling in to buy bread, cakes and buns.
While I enjoyed my superlative starter, as someone who eats out regularly on a professional basis, I was surprised at the small portions and prices (both vegetarian main courses around £14-£15) with an extra charge for bread/vegetables.
There is no question about the quality, freshness, seasonality and specially sourced local produce at Edinburgh Larder Bistro which is an excellent name for a Restaurant which celebrates the finest of Scotland’s natural Larder, from farm, field and sea.