North Castle Street, Edinburgh
The last time we visited Restaurant Mark Greenaway – September 2015, as it happens… thanks for asking! – we berated it for having a ‘slightly austere feel’ and ‘glum-looking punters.’ Maybe we were just in a tetchy mood that day. At any rate, it’s time for a reappraisal and, since the restaurant is still offering an insanely good value deal (three courses with matched wines for £40 a head) and we have a visitor, now seems a propitious time to give it another try.
We’re glad to see that the dining room has had a bit of a makeover since our last visit – it looks a lot simpler and fresher – and there’s certainly nothing glum about tonight’s crowd, who are chatting happily away and tucking eagerly into their food. Like most set menus, there isn’t a great variety, but what’s on offer looks very appetising indeed, so we’re happy too.
My starter is the Loch Fyne crab cannelloni with lemon pearls, herb butter and baby coriander. Half of this is housed in a glass bowl, which covers a second bowl of cauliflower custard; this is being gently smoked even as I appraise it. It’s a neat bit of culinary showmanship, but it’s actually more than just that, because the rich smoky flavour really has permeated that custard and it’s all a delight to eat. The matched wine for this is Casa Bonita, a citrusy Spanish wine which combines chardonnay and macebeo grapes. Our visitor opts for the chicken and leek terrine which features prune compote, wild garlic mayonnaise, heritage carrots and beetroot pickled shallots. I have to say it looks pretty good too and she confirms that it tastes every bit as good as it appears.
For the main course, we all decide that we want the same, the 11 hour roasted Clash Farm belly pork, which is a bit useless in terms of a review, but we want what we want, and we’re sticking to it, so there’s nothing to be done about the situation. And none of us is disappointed with the choice because this is a regal repast, the sweet sticky pork topped with a crunchy skin. Actually, this dish has also had a bit of a makeover since I last sampled it. It’s now accompanied by a slice of blackened fillet, a pork-cheek pie, sweetcorn and a toffee-apple jus. Nothing here is as straightforward as you might expect. The fillet really does have a delightfully sooty coating, the pie’s pastry is satisfyingly crisp and even the slice of corn has been seared on a grill to maximise the flavour. All this goes perfectly with the glass of rich Casa Silva pinot noir accompanies it.
Having been unanimous about the main course, we’re equally fixed on our choice of pudding: the Great British Menu ‘knot’ chocolate tart. If you’re not mad about chocolate, this may not be the sweet for you but, to chocoholics like me, it’s a one-way ticket to heaven. The intensely flavoured chocolate (dark, milk and white varieties) comes with custard jelly, frozen cookies, creme fraiche parfait, salted caramel and kumquat parfait. My only complaint here is that it simply doesn’t last long enough, though I can’t help noticing that I finish my portion long before my companions. The accompanying wine is a thick, sherry-like Lafage Ambré, which I wouldn’t normally dream of drinking but, when matched with a dish like this, it works like a charm and makes nonsense of those people who claim that the sommeliers of the world are just making it up as they go along.
At this great value price, you’d be crazy not to nip along and give it a try – and, if money’s no object, you’ll be rewarded with some of the most adventurous and delightful cooking currently on offer in this fair city.