St Andrew Square

Dishoom: Breakfast

05/12/19

St Andrew Square, Edinburgh

We’re having breakfast out today and unusually (at least for us) we’re having it in an Indian restaurant. I’m sure I’m not the only person, who  – when the word ‘breakfast’ comes up – fails to automatically think of Bombay food, but Dishoom may be just the venue to change my mind.

Of course, we already know about this fabulous eaterie on St Andrew Square. Indeed, it’s one of our favourite places to eat dinner in Edinburgh, but lately it’s been annoyingly popular, and the last time we ‘dropped by’ for food, we were faced with the prospect of a  long wait for a table. And the problem is, Dishoom don’t take bookings (except for large groups) after 5.30pm. Then, the other day, a friend casually asked if we’d ever tried their breakfast menu. What the…? There’s a breakfast menu? How the chumping rollick did we miss that?

As you’ll no doubt have gathered, we didn’t need much persuasion.

So here we are, and actually, it’s gone 11am, so this is going to be more like brunch. There’s a convivial buzz about the place and the staff are, as ever, warm and welcoming. We take our seats, order coffees and peruse what’s on offer. Oh boy. We quickly realise that the main problem is going to be making a choice because everything sounds super-tempting but, eventually, final decisions are arrived at, and the food comes promptly on reassuringly large plates.

I’m having the wrestler’s naan roll, which is essentially a big, oven baked naan, all flakey and crispy and scrumptious, liberally stuffed with rashers of smoky bacon,  pork sausages and runny-yolked eggs. The meal comes with a little bowl of sweet chilli sauce on the side, which is particularly good on those peppery Ayrshire sausages and there’s also a scattering of fresh coriander. Umm. While this might not be the most photogenic meal I’ve had, boy is it good! I don’t so much eat it as fall upon it like a ravening wolf.

Susan’s vegan Bombay is certainly better looking than my dish and, happily, it’s equally mouth-watering. It comprises Beyond Meat sausages, vegan black pudding, tofu akuri, grilled field mushrooms, masala baked beans, grilled tomatoes and (whew!) a couple of home cooked vegan buns. The sausages and black pudding taste convincingly like meat, but the real revelation here is the tofu. I’ve eaten no end of flaccid, tasteless lumps of the stuff over the years, but this is a game-changer. It looks and tastes like spicy scrambled eggs. This may not be the point, but it certainly wins me over. (Confirmed carnivores should note that a non-vegan version of this meal is also available.)

The portions are definitely on the generous side, but I’m soon mopping my plate with the last scrap of naan, and already planning what I’m going to try next time. Finally, it would seem, Loudons has some serious competition in the breakfast/brunch arena.

If you’re bored with your morning toast and cereal options, this is a great tasting alternative and it comes at prices that won’t break the bank.

Go on. You know you want to…

5 stars

Philip Caveney

Gaucho

Gaucho looks as though it were built primarily to illustrate what the word ‘sleek’ might look like. It’s a combination of dark grey and mirrored surfaces, glitzy lights that hang low over the diners, quiet Latin American music pulsing in the background. It’s early evening in Edinburgh on a particularly dreich night, and we arrive like two half-drowned cats, dripping helplessly onto the carpet. A friendly attendant takes our coats and brings us a couple of tall glasses of Prosecco, which we consume in the upstairs bar, before descending to the dining area. Here, our waiter brings us a tray, where various cuts of meat are laid out for our inspection, so we can properly appreciate the differences between them.

We are brought a plate of bread and some herb butter. The slices of wholemeal are fine but there’s a couple of crunchy white rolls that have a satisfyingly homemade flavour to them, particularly when they’re plastered in that butter.

I start with a potato and salmon salad – the salmon flakey and perfectly poached, surrounded by crispy Ratte potatoes, endives and onion purée, the whole thing drenched in tangy lemon mayo. It’s an excellent start. Susan opts for an Empanada, a dainty pastry parcel filled with sweet corn and mozzarella. This is also nice, though I suspect mine is the more satisfying of the two

Next up, for me it has to be a steak. I choose what the Argentinians call a chorizo, which is just a succulent sirloin, served medium rare and bordered by a strip of juicy crackling. It cuts easily with an ordinary knife (always a good sign) and has a pleasing strip of crispy fat along one edge. I’ve certainly had more impressive steaks than this around Edinburgh, but I make short work of it and have no complaints. It’s accompanied by a side of chips, cooked with the skin on and there’s  a pleasantly spicy pepper sauce. There’s nothing wrong with Susan’s chicken Milanese, topped with a fried egg and garnished with rocket and Parmesan, but it’s perhaps a little too redolent of the deep fat fryer for her taste. 

We both order a side of mac’n’cheese – I know, I know, it doesn’t really go, but we’ve have a crap couple of days and we both feel like being indulgent. These are fairly hearty portions and perfectly nice in their own way, but not quite as spectacular as those offered at The Bruntsfield Chop House, where the sauce is thick and gooey and loaded with cheese. (You don’t order this dish for its health benefits.)

However, when it comes to the puddings, ‘indulgent’ is definitely the word to choose when describing them. My sticky toffee pudding comes with a generous helping of dulce de leche sauce, a dollop of clotted cream and delicious chunks of honeycomb. It’s absolutely mouthwatering. Susan’s salted dulce de leche cheesecake is also a winner, super sweet and so filling, I have to help her with the last couple of spoonfuls. (I’m useful like that).

We’re thoroughly sated and reluctantly head back out into the downpour as full as two ticks. 

3.8 stars

Philip Caveney