The Riparian Rooms – leisurely, lazy, all day eating and drinking (just imagine a riverbank view)
The Riparian Rooms, 7-11 East London Street, Edinburgh EH7 4BN
http://www.theriparianrooms.co.uk; tel. 0131 556 6102
Now that the urban village of Stockbridge has become an exciting foodie destination, it was time for more Edinburgh neighbourhood districts to offer good eating and drinking venues. The opening of the Riparian Rooms has thus been warmly welcomed by local Broughton – Bellevue and New Town residents.
This exciting new venture has been a long term dream project for property entrepreneurs Neil Robb and Lynne Ritchie who searched for many years to find the right location. When the former Locanda de Gusti ristorante moved from East London Street to Dalry, Robb and Ritchie had found the ideal corner site opposite the Mansfield Traquair church.
River in Latin is Ripa and Riparian means ‘relating to or situated on the banks of a river.’ The restaurant name is inspired by the history of Broughton, originally Broc Tun, “the farm beside the brook”. This ancient brook, is now an underground river flowing from York Place down Broughton Street to the Water of Leith.
The owners’ aim is to create a restaurant that feels like a home from home …“Whether it’s breakfast at 4pm or cake and a cocktail at 1pm we want to accommodate our guests anytime of the day”
They have handpicked a professional team to be in charge – Head Chef Gary Cromie (formerly at Orroco Pier and Waldorf Astoria, New York, where Waldorf salad was invented), with managers, Stuart Thom, founder of Olive Branch bistros, and Peter Adshead, from the Pompadour, Waldorf Astoria. Edinburgh.
The place was packed on the Thursday night just after Easter, when Ken and I visited for dinner; clearly the word has spread. The spacious, light-filled Bar-Brasserie has a smart-casual ambience, fashionably industrial chic decor, stripped back stone walls, dark wood, softened with leather, velvet and patterned drapes depicting willow trees and reeds along a tranquil river.
An outdoor patio of rattan seats and tables is the ideal place for alfresco drinks and meals. Just imagine a scenic view sitting on a rural riverbank.
And so to the menu. Scottish produce – from porridge, black pudding and haggis for breakfast, to classic Cullen Skink, shellfish, beef, and Mull cheddar, the backbone of the cuisine.
To start, three Loch Fyne Oysters served with shallot and red wine vinegar. Salty-sweet and succulent, I could easily have enjoyed half a dozen. (Perhaps ring the changes and offer the option of Tabasco, a chilli or champagne dressing, gin & tonic marinated oysters ?). With this I sipped a glass of ice –cold Deutz Classic champagne.
Meanwhile Ken consumed a hearty bowl of Carrot soup. When we asked Corey, our friendly waiter, to describe it – he said, “just carrot!.” Pure, smoothly textured without thick calorific cream and very tasty.
Next, a well-presented bowl of Pan-fried Sea Bass on a nest of cherry tomatoes, green beans, sautéed baby potatoes drizzled with rocket oil. I appreciated the light, fresh simplicity of this Gluten Free fish dish, with no need to smother it in a richly flavoured sauce.
Across the table, my partner selected a layered tower of Butternut Squash, wild mushrooms, truffled potato all topped with poached duck egg. Excellent!. At last, an inventive, appetising veggie dish. Our selected wine was a bottle of Chilean Carmenere, well described as an aroma of cherries, coffee and vanilla. After this feast, just enough of an appetite to share a platter of cheese with home made crispy oatcakes.
We ended the evening downstairs in the Burrow Below, a nightclubby-cellar bar, except all very relaxed and mellow and the ideal spot for a cool Cocktail – a Martinez, (gin, triple sec, dash of bitters, lemon twist). The soft jazzy soundtrack, played upstairs and here, adds just the right background mood.
The flexible menu flows seamlessly from breakfast-brunch (served daily till 5pm – hurrah!), blending into lunch service and then flowing through to martini-time and dinner.
There’s a distinctive ambience, welcoming hospitality and fresh, seasonal, Scottish food about this carefully crafted and designed Bar and Brasserie. Riparian Rooms has clearly achieved its aim to create a meeting place for all day sociable, leisurely eating and drinking, from morning coffee to late night cocktails..
The Riverbank heritage is a subtle theme…. and could be enhanced beyond the decorative drapes, with a magical story of its quirky sense of place ….
“Never in his life had he seen a river before .. glints and gleams, rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble. The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated. He sat on the bank while the river chattered to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.”
From, The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
Kenneth Graham was born at 30 Castle Street, Edinburgh, now Castleview guest house.