North Castle Street, Edinburgh
So, you know how it is, you’re deeply embroiled in the Edinburgh Festival, you’re running from one show to another and it’s your first wedding anniversary. Why not, we thought, eat somewhere we haven’t reviewed yet? And rather than return to Bistro Moderne in Stockbridge where we celebrated our marriage, let’s visit its sister restaurant, Restaurant Mark Greenaway, up on Castle street. A good plan, we thought and made the booking.
The restaurant is more formal than it’s relaxed sibling, with a slightly austere feel. The place is completely deserted when we arrive, at 5.30, but soon fills up with a collection of (it has to be said) rather glum-looking punters who don’t appear to have very much to say to each other; but the staff are friendly enough and service is attentive. Since we’re on a tight budget, we opt for the market menu which offers three courses for £22 with an accompanying wine ‘flight’ for £18.
The starters duly arrive and look like little works of art. Susan has the Comfit Gartmont Farm Duck Terrine, which is accompanied by gingerbread, plum gel and foraged Scottish herbs. The terrine is lip-smackingly moist and full flavoured. The idea of serving it with gingerbread is inspired. It shouldn’t really work but somehow does. I sample the Smoked Salmon Canneloni (see picture) with sauce gribiche, saffron mayonnaise and mini melba toast. The powerful salty flavour of the salmon filling is perfectly cut by the accompanying white wine, (proof once again that a good Somellier is a fine thing indeed and Restaurant Mark Greenaway has not one, but two of them, who clearly know a thing or two about their subject and are happy to share their knowledge.)
On to the main courses. Susan chose Baked Fillet of Plaice, accompanied by sweet Cicely gnocchi, clam chowder and vanilla foam. The over-abundant foam seemed to us a slight misstep, the flavour more appropriate for a pudding, but the dish was otherwise perfectly cooked, the fish melt-in-the-mouth soft and the creamy clam chowder satisfyingly sticky. I had the 11 Hour Slow Roasted Pork Belly, served with spiced fillet, savoy cabbage, pommel pureé and toffee apple jus (see picture). This was note perfect, though I fear I caused some raised eyebrows when I requested a bowl of mustard (that’s just me. To my mind, meat without mustard is like… rhubarb without custard).
Speaking of which, for my dessert, accompanied by a thick, sweet wine, I had Rhubarb and Custard with sweet granola, poached rhubarb, custard espuma and rhubarb sorbet. It was, to be honest, quite delicious, the lightly cooked chunks of rhubarb giving the meal a delightful crunch and the sorbet definitely of the ‘Mmm’ variety. I made short work of it. Susan, meanwhile had the Dark Chocolate Fondant (for which the diner must allow fifteen minutes preparation time). This came surrounded by salted caramel, coffee macaroons, burnt white chocolate and vanilla ice cream. It was every bit as delightful as it sounds though the fondant itself was of the (slightly disappointing) miniature variety. Which is not to say that we were left hungry by any stretch of the imagination. But we could have managed a bit more of that fondant. Easily.
All in all, this was a satisfying meal and if I have a criticism of the restaurant, it’s simply that its staid, rather stuffy atmosphere belongs to a bygone age. Would it harm to relax a little? Maybe even introduce some background music? Just a thought. As for the food (that slightly odd vanilla foam aside) the restaurant’s reputation is clearly well-founded.
Would we recommend it? Hell yes.