Dulse by Dean Banks


Queensferry Street, Edinburgh

We rarely return to a restaurant so soon after reviewing it for the first time, but when we saw that Dulse was offering a five course seafood tasting menu for just £35 per head, it was a no brainer. Besides, we wondered, could anybody do the concept proud at such a great value price? Well, the answer to that question is a resounding ‘yes!’ Little wonder that the venue has started offering the menu on more nights of the week.

We start with some oysters – is there any better way to begin a seafood medley? There are just two apiece: fine, fleshy specimens, one doused in a citrusy sea buckthorn sauce, the other in a Bloody Mary mixture. Heads back, mouths open – they slip down perfectly, refreshing, appetising and redolent of the ocean. It’s an excellent start to the meal.

Next up there’s trout pastrami, finely-sliced slivers of smoky fish, served with whipped crème fraîche and crispy rye toast that supplies a satisfying crunch. Arranged on the plate it looks disconcertingly like a smiling clown, but that’s as far as the comedy goes, because this is seriously good, perfectly prepared and absolutely mouthwatering.

The next course is a bowl of Singapore mussels. For me it’s the standout, a rich fiery broth with that tantalising catch at the back of the throat – but then I’ve always been a pushover for those Asian flavours. This is when I’m glad we’ve opted for a side order of a miniature wholemeal loaf, which is absolutely perfect for mopping up the garlic and ginger-infused liquid at the bottom of the bowl, because you don’t want to miss any of that flavour, right?

Can it get any better? Well, how about a chunk of cod, meltingly soft underneath and perfectly seared on top to provide a crispy crunch, the whole thing nestled in a vivid green wild garlic sauce? Yep, once again, this is absolutely spot on.

Any pudding that can follow this needs to be light and appetising, so a deconstructed Eton mess seems the perfect answer – and so it proves to be, with a delightfully fizzy sorbet. It provides the final piece in a faultless tasting menu.

It’s hats off, once again, to Dean Banks, who gets another five star review from us. We make a mental note to visit Haar, his restaurant in St Andrews, when an opportunity arises, because that’s where he began his career and it will be interesting to see what’s on offer there. Interested parties should note that, at Dulse, there’s also the option of adding a half lobster to the selection for just £25 per head and that last orders for this menu are at 7 pm.

So don’t hang about.

5 stars

Philip Caveney


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