Queensferry Street, Edinburgh

The New Year’s festivities are over, the decorations are packed away (in our case into a tiny box), and we’re into the dreary days of early January – a time when not very much happens. So aren’t we glad we took advantage of some Black Friday deals and lined up a couple of gastronomic treats for early 2023? The first of them is for a Sunday roast at Dulse. It’s here that chef Dean Banks has lined up a eclectic menu, all based around seafood. Seafood for a Sunday roast? Does this compute? More of that later.

We’ve dined in this building before, of course, back when it was L’escargot Blanc, a cosy French restaurant, all nooks and crannies, with an authentic country inn kind of feel. Now the place has been opened out and given a brighter, more contemporary look. Somehow it feels as though it’s doubled in size, which can’t be possible. We order a bottle of the house white – a lovely melon-flavoured Languedoc that rejoices under the name of Baron de Badassiere (which we inevitably dub ‘Baron Badass,’ mainly because there’s nobody to stop us). We sip our drinks and peruse the menu.

For starters we order a delightful trout pastrami – sashimi styled slices of fish bursting with flavour and served with rye bread and a dollop of Katy Rodgers creme fraiche. Each bite is a little taste of heaven, the crispy rye bread a perfect foil for the smoky, succulent slices of fish. There’s also a huge bowl of Singapore mussels, which for me are the star of the show, as they reside in a superb, spicy broth, packed with garlic and chillies, each mouthful offering that delightful catch at the back of the throat. We see now why the waitress advised us to also order the bread loaf with sustainable butter, because chunks of this fabulous grain bread dunked into the broth are just heavenly. The plates are cleared in record time and we’re already brighter than we were.

Now for the main course, the Sunday roast. Picture, if you will, the images that those two words conjure in your mind’s eye and then erase them and think again. In place of the meat course, there’s a whole slow roasted plaice, sliced down the middle but left on the bone, the flesh so delicate that it virtually melts in the mouth. I’ve had plaice many times, but this is a revelation. So too are the accompaniments, which are roast new potatoes, perfectly cooked, with a crispy exterior and soft, buttery inside. There’s a also a couple of wedges of charred hispi cabbage, deliciously crunchy and with a couple of sauces to pour over, one flavoured with saffron, the other, lemon. It’s hard to decide which is the best, but eventually we decide on the lemon. I’ve never had a Sunday roast like this before and, unlike the traditional alternative, when it’s finished I don’t feel stuffed to the gills.

Which is great because there’s a pudding (when is there not a pudding?) and, though both of them sound unprepossessing, each in its own way is quietly impressive. There’s a dulce de leche chocolate pave, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and it’s both perfectly executed and perfectly delicious. Then there’s a plum and apple crumble, which in itself seems like a reinvention, the chunks of fruit cooked al dente, the crumble topping light and (dare we use this word?) sort of… healthy. It’s all finished off with a dollop of cream.

Suddenly, January doesn’t seem quite so dreary. Anybody wishing to partake of some stunning seafood should hurry on down to Queensferry Street at their earliest opportunity. This is a game-changer.

5 stars

Philip Caveney


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