Bruntsfield

Southside Scran

 

13/11/18

Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh

We can’t help but notice the smell of fresh paint as we enter Southside Scran. It’s rare that we visit such a recently-finished venue, but, over the past few months, we’ve watched with mounting excitement as Tom Kitchin’s latest project has taken shape in Bruntsfield. ‘As soon as we’ve got something to celebrate,’ we tell ourselves, ‘we’ll give this place a whirl.’ The opportunity arrives sooner than we think.

It’s clear from the outset that the venue is still going through that ‘settling in’ phase. When we arrive, the person on the front desk is locked into a long phone conversation, but a friendly waiter ushers us to the bar and supplies us with complimentary glasses of prosecco, whilst our table is ‘sorted out.’ Clearly, this man knows the quickest route to our hearts. It’s a Tuesday evening and during this bedding-in process, covers are restricted to 26 diners, so its relatively quiet tonight – but there’s a cheery wood burner on the go, a rotisserie is filling the place with the appetising aroma of cooked chicken and we’re perfectly content to sit perusing the menu and sipping our drinks.

Once at our table, we’re presented with chunks of fresh sourdough, some butter and a delicious pot of intensely flavoured chicken liver parfait. We try valiantly to hold ourselves back for the actual meal, but it’s difficult, especially when they replace the bread we’ve already eaten.

For my starter, I’ve chosen the Borders game pithivier, a delightfully crispy pie which is surrounded by a rich and fruity jus. It’s note perfect. Susan has the West coast shellfish ravioli, liberally doused in a delightful seafood bisque. In both cases the plates are virtually licked clean.

My main course is Clash Farm pork belly, with apple sauce. It’s soft, and sticky with a chewy, rather than crispy skin, good, if perhaps a little over-salted. Susan’s Orkney scallops with herb butter are nicely judged, just firm enough to offer a little ‘bite.’ For sides, we’ve chosen a bowl of macaroni cheese (I know, I know, it doesn’t really go with anything but, whenever we see it we somehow can’t resist ordering it and this is exactly as we like it, thick and gooey with a nice crispy top.) There’s also an earthy ragout of lentils and lardons and a green salad, which, in its own way, is a bit of a stand out. Perhaps you’re thinking, ‘oh, it’s just a green salad, a few leaves, a bit of cucumber, right?’ No, this is a little masterpiece, incorporating avocado, endives and pumpkin seeds, crunchy, and zesty and very nice indeed. So often, it’s the details that lift a meal above the run-of-the-mill.

We’re pretty full, by now, but the rice pudding with pumpkin, orange and salted caramel sauce sounds too good to ignore, so we opt to share a bowl – and we’re glad we do, because in many ways, this little belter is the other star of the show, so rich, so satisfying, that it makes the plate of strongly flavoured cheeses we finish up with a bit of a let down – nothing wrong with them, you understand, but that pudding is a tough act to follow, and perhaps more the kind of flavour my taste buds want to remember.

When it comes time to pay the bill our waiter informs us that because everything this evening hasn’t been ‘absolutely perfect,’ they’ve discounted the wine we ordered. It turns out that they haven’t charged us one penny for a bottle of Marlborough sauvignon blanc, which is very noble of them and a move that’s guaranteed to prompt me to return, once things are more settled. But really, I have no complaints anyway. I’m full and happy, a perfect combination.

It’s early days of course, but this first visit augers well for the restaurant’s future. Southside Scran offers really clever food, a sizeable step up from mere pub grub. The fact that the place is ten minutes walk from where we live is simply the icing on the cake – or, if you prefer, the sauce on the pudding.

4.8 stars

Philip Caveney

The Chop House

 

 

25/03/18

 Bruntsfield, Edinburgh

The Bruntsfield Chop House is new. We’ve walked past the renovations countless times, and are keen to investigate this new addition to the local restaurant scene. It certainly looks inviting enough from the outside: all trendy industrial-style decor and some appetising smoky smells. So we book in for late lunch/early dinner on Sunday afternoon, and boy, are we hungry when we arrive!

Things don’t get off to an auspicious start though. The high tables and fixed booth-style seating look fantastic, but they’re not exactly super-accessible. It’s actually a bit of a scramble to climb up there: the design doesn’t seem to take much account of human anatomy. Still, once ensconced, we’re comfortable enough, and we’re soon drinking wine and perusing the menu.

Philip has crab cakes to start. There are two of them, generously filled with tender crab meat and served with a tangy chipotle hollandaise sauce. I opt for a single scallop served with pig cheek and an apple and celery slaw (I’m saving myself for the main course); the starter is small but it’s perfectly prepared, the pig cheek in particular ticking the ‘guilty pleasure’ box.

On to the main course. We’ve opted for a sharing cut of bone-in-rib steak with Sunday dinner trimmings, and we’re relishing the thought. Just as we’re expecting to be served, however, the waiter appears to tell us that the chef has prepared the wrong meat for us – he’s prepared a porterhouse instead. He’s very apologetic, but it’s fine – we don’t really mind – and opt to take the ‘wrong’ cut rather than wait for another to be prepared.

And honestly, it’s absolutely not a problem, because the steak we’re served is the best that either of us can ever remember having. Yes, it really is that good, medium rare, as requested, and so soft and succulent, it’s almost buttery. All the beef served here is 35 day aged and cooked over an open flame charcoal grill and, my goodness, it works! We’re in meat heaven. The sides of roast potato, al dente veg and Yorkshire pudding are delicious too – but the meat is very much the star of the show. Then there are the sauces: a decent peppercorn, a tangy b√©arnaise and, best of all, a delicious bone marrow gravy that’s as dark and rich as anyone could wish.

We devour every mouthful and are consequently too full for pudding but we do have more room for wine – and find that the cost of the bottle has been deducted from our bill to make up for the chef’s ‘mistake’. It’s a lovely gesture, and one we appreciate.

Would we come back? Well, maybe. The food is absolutely spot on and the service is friendly. But they really need to do something about those seats.

4.4 stars

Susan Singfield