Broughton Street, Edinburgh
We’re here because it sounds exciting: we’ve seen Seasons advertised on Facebook and we’re intrigued by what we’ve read. Because there’s no menu here, as such, just a list of locally sourced ingredients, and the choice of a five or seven-course tasting menu. “We ask for you to put your trust in our ethos and our team,” says their website – and so we do.
We’re eating with friends and, after some discussion, we all agree to go with the seven-course option (we’re afraid of missing something spectacular if we opt for the shorter menu). We eschew the wine pairings: at £45 a head, this seems a bit much for seven (or maybe six, if tripadvisor reviews are accurate) 75ml glasses, however wonderful they are. We share a bottle of sauvignon blanc instead, although several of our refills taste suspiciously like Chardonnay; have they confused our wine with another table’s? Looking back, we realise we have probably drunk a lot more than a bottle between us, so the mix-up is in our favour – and we’re too busy enjoying ourselves to bring it up. Because the food is really rather good.
We start with an amuse bouche, quirkily presented in a ceramic egg. It’s an Arbroath smokie with dill foam, and it packs a lovely punch. It’s a good start, and sets us up nicely for the first ‘proper’ course, which is a spinach and watercress velouté,with a burnt onion oil and crumb. This is absolutely delicious: smooth and velvety and richly flavoured.
The second course consists of langoustines, served with heritage tomatoes and a tomato bisque. The langoustine tails are soft (maybe too soft?) but they taste wonderful, and the tomato bisque is inspired. So far, so good. Next up, it’s braised ox cheeks, with kohlrabi and herbs. This is perhaps the least enjoyable course of the evening: it’s all very well cooked – the tiny sweet mushrooms are a particular delight – but we all agree it lacks seasoning, and it’s a bit big and oafish in the wake of all the finery we’ve tried so far. The fourth course, plaice with samphire and a plaice tortellino, is also under-seasoned. We ask for salt, which is clearly not de rigeur, as we discover when we are given a bowl of unground rock salt and a teaspoon. This feels a bit grudging (obviously we can’t use it), but we find it funny rather than annoying, and just eat the course without. Apart from the lack of sodium, it’s delicious, especially the fish-filled pasta.
By now, we’re starting to think that five courses would have been enough: we’re getting very full. But the fifth course, lamb with peas and feta, is worth finding space for: it’s perfect. The lamb is pink and tender, and the peas enriched by the sharp salty cheese. Yum. Nevertheless, we’re relieved to see that the sixth course is a light one, a pre-dessert of strawberries, strawberry ice-cream and honeycomb. It’s light and sweet and very fresh. We all relish it.
Pudding is cherries with woodruff sponge, chocolate crumb and a cherry sorbet. It’s a fascinating combination of flavours and textures and, while it doesn’t quite elicit the lip-smacking groans of pleasure that sweet stuff often can, it certainly holds our interest, and we all clear our plates. It’s a clever dessert, and it gives us pause for thought.
Seasons is a lovely place to spend an evening with friends. It’s relaxed and convivial, with plenty of space between courses to digest what’s gone before and catch up with each other’s news. We arrive at seven and don’t leave until after ten-thirty, and we enjoy ourselves immensely. It’s a quirky, original restaurant with real daring and ambition. Well worth a visit. Give it a try!