B’est, Drummond Street, Edinburgh

A quick glance around the deceptively spacious interior of B’est leaves us feeling slightly puzzled. There’s a somewhat hokey, unfocused feel to the place. The large framed prints of The Arc De Triomphe and The Eiffel Tower, would suggest that we’re in for some French-style cuisine tonight but, if that’s the case, what are we to make of the collection of Toby jugs dotted around the shelves? What’s brought us here is not a tip-off from a friend or decent word-of-mouth, but what looks like an unbelievably good Groupon deal. And we’re not averse to using them as a way of trying out new places.

The restaurant is located on Drummond Street, a stone’s throw from the Festival Theatre and it’s been here for around a decade. During the Ed Fest it’s the regular setting for The Fawlty Towers Experience, a dining opportunity with added slapstick – although we’re hopeful there won’t be too much of that tonight. The fact that we spot one of Susan’s colleagues dining here we take as a good sign. An attentive and friendly waiter brings us the menu and we see that the concise selection of dishes on offer comes from all over Europe, with the odd dash of classic Scots thrown in for good measure.

The first starter really couldn’t be any more traditional – a Haggis and Black Pudding Tower with neeps and tatties. This turns out to be a melt-in-the-mouth savoury delight, steeped in a thick, lip-smacking gravy. Susan opts for the Goats Cheese Tartlet and this too is simply cracking, the generously sized slice of tangy cheese resting on sweet beetroot and accompanied by a salad dressed with summer fruit coulis. It’s clear that whoever’s out  in the kitchen knows a thing or three about flavours.

My main course is a Pork Valdestar with bacon and cheddar gratin, and again it’s a winner, tender enough to slice with a table knife, layered with a crispy cheese topping and smothered in a tangy sauce. It’s accompanied by al dente broccoli and a heap of tiny roast potatoes. All good stuff. Susan goes for a real classic, Beef Lasagne, which of course we’ve eaten many times before, but even this has a distinctive flavour, unlike any lasagne we’ve had elsewhere.

Have we got room for puddings? Well, the deal we’ve gone for comprises three courses for one price so that’s an automatic yes. I opt for a Crepe with raspberry filling, which is just as it should be, light as you like and tasty as anything. Susan’s Apple Pie has an unmistakably Dutch feel to it, the apple liberally mixed with raisins (which makes it a no-go area in my book) but she reports herself well pleased with it. Both desserts come with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Okay, so B’est isn’t going to win any awards for its interior design, and the look of the food may not be as stylish as it could be, but everything we try tastes way better than the average and, when the price of two three course meals comes to slightly less than the bottle of Pinot Grigio we’ve chosen to accompany them, we can hardly complain about not getting value for money. Given a bit of a makeover, B’est could be up there with the (forgive me) best of them but, as it stands, if you’re in the market for good wholesome cooking at an absolutely knock-down price, I’d advise you to walk in the direction of Drummond Street and try it for yourself.

4.2 stars

Philip Caveney

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