Pecking proverbial milk tops from fine dining establishments across the UK

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Martin Wishart, Edinburgh

54 The Shore, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 6RA

Open for Lunch Tues-Sat 12-2pm. Three Course: £24.50.


Today we made a visit to one of the four Michelin Starred restaurants in the city of Edinburgh. Three of these, including Martin Wishart’s which was to be our destination, are based in the suburb of Leith. A deliberate attempt had been made to introduce local diners to the practices of haute cuisine dining, with, for example, the waiters explaining the concept of a tasting menu. The atmosphere was very relaxed. While this was an efficiently-run ship, the atmosphere of the restaurant was friendly and welcoming. The décor of the restaurant was clear and light. The food experience here, overall, was very good without reaching excellent. This was a good, solid haute cuisine meal with one or two highlights which were above the standard of the rest of the fare.

Bread arrived in the form of four individual bread rolls, two white and two brown, baked in the shape of a muffin. These were freshly baked on the premises and arrived comfortingly warm. The bread was golden on the outside, with good light texture on the inside. I have to admit I prefer bread to be something more than plain white or brown, but these were good (5/10). An assiette of amuse bouches arrived soon after. The first was a delightfully fresh, both in taste and its vivid light green colour, courgette and pesto soup. At the bottom was a small amount of tomato chutney, which perhaps could have done with having a more vinegary bite (7/10). Next was deep fried polenta with shrimp. This was so-so as the shrimp did not succeed in intruding on the dominant carbohydrate-y flavour of the polenta. There was even a slight hint of greasiness (3/10). Finally, a few slices of beetroot in a blood pudding sauce topped with crispy rice. This was an interesting combination of the grainy and thick sauce, the chunky beetroot and the crunch of the rice. This was K’s first experience of blood pudding, and I would have thought she would have enjoyed the similarities of the sauce with dark chocolate. In all, this was interesting more than tasty (5/10).

K’s starter was the highlight of the meal. Smoked organic Shetland salmon with a layer of pickled cucumber on the top and a foam of konbu vinegar. The salmon was gorgeous: succulent, smooth, intense salmon flavour without ever being ‘fishy’. The cucumber and vinegar added a counterpoising punch but K, desiring to enjoy the salmon in its full glory on its own, ate this separately (8/10). My duck rillettes – potted duck belly – came with a salad made up of beetroot, pickled cabbage, salad leaves and shredded carrot and with a rather pointless thin slice of toasted Polaine bread which was too thin to register any actual flavour. This was a disappointment compared to the salmon. Rillettes is perhaps not the most aesetheticaly pleasing of meat; in this case having a drab grey colour which I associate with mass produced cheap factory chicken. The acidity of the pickled cabbage added a nice contrast to the duck; the meat itself was enjoyable without being amazing (4/10)

My main course consisted of two fillets of poached sole, each wrapped around a boiled potato surrounded by a mushroom gratin and steamed spinach. The fish was succulent but, equally, rather flavourless. The softness of the fish was contrasted nicely by the al dente nature of the potatoes. The mushroom gratin was a little lifeless and, presented as a sauce around the fish and left on an extremely hot plate, had begun to develop a skin by the time it arrived at the table (4/10). K had a roast saddle of Dornoch lamb with creamed runner beans, mashed potatoes, chunks of tomato, a lattice of potato and thyme jus. Similar to the sole, the lamb was a very well cooked piece of meat but also one lacking in any strong flavour. The mashed potatoes had a wonderful earthly flavour and colour (4/10).

K’s dessert was a beautifully crafted raspberry soufflé, companioned with a raspberry granite with a raspberry sorbet foam. The soufflé was a little light on the flavour side while the raspberry foam was wonderfully intense and had a very interesting texture – half-way between a sorbet and a foam (5/10). My dessert was somewhat bizarre. A lemon tart with fromage frais foam and yuzu sorbet, but this was placed in a pool of yuzu (Japanese citron) water. As you might expect, this watery foundation led to the base of the tart itself becoming rather soggy. The tart itself was very good, though it could have done with a little more filling. The sorbet was wonderfully light (5/10).

The petit fours we finished with were great; nought, coconut and line meringues and bons bons – gleddfiddich and chocolate, raspberry and passionfruit. The nougat was soft, almost like a marshmallow, and chewy. The meringue was light on lime flavour. The bon bons were the highlight and were uniformly good. The glenfiddich was essentially a very rich chocolate truffle with a whisky kick. Both the raspberry and passionfruit bon bons were powerful in their flavours.

What did other people think?

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