Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Restaurant Mark Greenaway, Edinburgh

When planning my trip to Edinburgh I headed to Twitter for suggestions of where to dine and I think it was the chef of Losehill House who suggested I try Mark Greenaway's restaurant. He sent me a link to this blog review which kind of sealed the deal for me and I booked us in for lunch on the Tuesday (annoyingly the last day of our holiday, which meant that we would have to set off home very shortly after eating, but it was the only time we were free).

Although I was looking forward to eating at Mark Greenaway's restaurant, Tuesday came round far too quickly, (doesn't the last day of every holiday?) and after being rudely kicked out of our self catering flat at 10am (why so early???) we had three and a half hours to kill before lunch. The rain had returned (after three really good days, it was bound to return at some point) so we decided to hit the shops, after all what better to way to whet the appetite than a tour around the food halls?!

Time for lunch and we find Mark Greenaway located at 12 Picardy Place, opposite the rather soulless Omni (a complex full of chain bars and restaurants, a gym and a cinema). Thankfully where we were headed was just a little more sophisticated. With dark grey walls, high ceilings, smart lighting and a lot of stone, the room felt cool as we were shown to our table (no bad thing; it seems that everyone else in Edinburgh thinks that us tourists can't cope with the cooler Scottish temperature, cranking the heating up to the max and leaving me in a hot pickle).

Our waiter was as equally smart and, dressed in grey, he complemented the room nicely, but under that cool exterior was a warm personality and the service was easy, chatty and comfortable from the off. And although we were sat in a large room with only one table of two joining us, some chilled out and sometimes jazzy, music softly filled the room and with this we felt free to chat rather than whisper.

With two menus on offer; the market menu and the a la carte, I really wanted to stick to the first. It's available from Tuesday to Saturday from 12-3 & 5.30- 6.45 and offers three courses for an amazing £20. There was even a paired wine flight for about the £15 mark. However with only one meat option for main, pork, and the offer of a delicious sounding beef main on the a la carte I ended up with the more expensive option... and on hearing that I was the only one drinking, our waiter suggested that he choose a glass to accompany each course, which was the perfect option for us and a really nice touch.

After a delicious amuse bouche of an espuma (or foam to you and me) my meal kicked off with a pork cheek pave. Pork cheek is a favourite of mine, it's packed with flavour and when cooked long and slow it is surprisingly tender. Here my pork cheeks were served cold, the meat packed into the cobblestone shape and wrapped in a beetroot leather. With some apple jelly on the plate the simple flavours worked nicely and although there was some sea buckthorn on there, it was served in very moderate quantities meaning that I didn't have to have a GBM moment and declare it the most vile of ingredients. As well as tasting good, the dish looked amazing with pretty edible flowers adorning the plate.

Gav was happy enough with the market menu and his starter of duck egg with duck ham (yes, you read that right, prosciutto made from duck!) and a duck croquette looked great and, he reported, tasted good too. The ham was a real revelation for him and with its salty flavours, it was perfect with the rich duck egg. Duck croquette was made up of soft and tender meat and the only complaint I heard from him was that he didn't like the pan it was served in as it made it a bit fiddly to eat (but given that this probably just meant that he couldn't eat it quickly enough, this is in turn, was actually a compliment).

My main was that ever so tempting beef dish. Thick, beautifully tender slices of sirloin were perfectly seasoned making for some really tasty meat. Served with a small piece of short rib which had been cooked away for so long it was sticky with its own juices, this really was a joy for any meat lover. And, as if my carnivorous cravings hadn't been satisfied enough, there was bone marrow 'crumble' too; slow cooked beef stuffed into a bone and topped with a crumb. Simple sides of confit potatoes (or croquettes), a horseradish cream and a rich red wine jus (which was served on the side) ensured that the focus was where it should be; on the meat. I was in heaven!

And although Gav had the slightly lighter option of the pork belly, it was perfectly satisfactory. There was a surprising amount of meat (opposed to fat) to his portion and the skin was good and crispy with a thin crackling consistency. Again, simple sides of mash and apple kept the focus on the porky star of the show and he enjoyed the comforting feel to the dish (remember, the weather was pretty vile outside).

Looking at the dessert menu, I spotted a true favourite of mine; lemon tart. In my opinion there's nothing better than a zingy, refreshing end to a meal and I tend to go for it whenever I see it. However the inclusion of ingredients such as watermelon, coconut jelly and pistachio purée in the description did concern me. Why mess around with such perfection?! My plate arrived and I was glad to see that although these ingredients were present, they didn't actually interfere with the tart itself (which came in sections scattered around the plate). It was good to see extra dollops of the citrusy yuzu sauce dotted around along with a tube of something which I can only describe as a thick and creamy lemon curd. Whatever it was, it packed a punch and really satisfied my requirement for something refreshing. Coconut jelly was pleasant enough, but not required, the watermelon added extra freshness to the plate, but I didn't 'get' the pistachio purée as it didn't seem to work with anything for me. Having said this, there was enough lemon on the plate to meet the requirement of any lemon tart and I was happy.

Gav went for peanut and caramel cheesecake. Served as a mille-feuille, with a strip of dark chocolate, salt caramel and a white chocolate tuille it was like no other cheesecake I have seen and it was stunning. First appearances would suggest that this was a dainty dish, one to be enjoyed on a hot summers day, but once the hot caramel sauce was poured, the dish transformed into one more suiting to the weather outside and one that, surprisingly, satisfied Gav's cravings for sticky toffee pudding (that's the trouble with too much fine dining; the lack of a proper pud). It's something that Gav will remember for some time; a real feat for a dessert from a lunch time offer menu.

We declined coffee, as we really did need to head back home, and left feeling perfectly satisfied. The food had been absolutely spot on (and it had been good to see that the market menu was as interesting as the a la carte), our waiter had been professional but personable and he'd shown off his skills as sommelier in every wine pairing he made. And with the bill coming in at less than £90, the wallet was happy too.

One to return to... and one for you to try...

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