Ahh! Bistro | Bistro Moderne, 15 North West Circus Place, Edinburgh EH3 6SX
It was our last day in the beautiful, if slightly damp city of Edinburgh and we only had one more restaurant to tick off our list. That restaurant was Bistro Moderne, the new launch by Mark Greenaway (of Great British Menu fame) of which we’d been invited. Mark received nationwide acclaim following the opening of his self titled restaurant in Edinburgh in February 2011 and followed that up with 3 AA Rosettes for his outstanding cooking.
Well that’s Mark covered, what about the restaurant and his menu? Set in a beautiful old bank building in North West Circus Place at the heart of Edinburgh’s leafy Stockbridge. The area is fast becoming a foodie magnet, with Tom Kitchen’s new gastro-pub and speciality shops bringing in the crowds. The ceilings are high and the decor simple yet elegant, lots of dark paneling and polished brass. Parquet flooring with clean cream and ‘heritage green’* walls add to this refined feel (*if this green was a Farrow and Ball paint, it would be called Dusty Under Doormat Mould).
The restaurant was deceptively large with loads of different seating options too. You can sit at the granite bar at high bistro style tables or on more regular tables on the most comfortable looking tartan backed chairs. We were sat at a table for two in a heavily framed dark wood alcove that was half confession box, half lift lobby in appearance. It was a little cosy but in a prime position to watch the room and to get a sneaky peek of chef Mark working his magic in the open kitchen. Yes, yes, I know a ‘TV chef’ who actually works in one of his restaurants!
This is definitely the most opulent restaurant that we’d eaten at in Edinburgh. The glasses were polished to within an inch of their lives, the plates and cutlery glistened and the table was set millimeter perfect. We had high expectations of Mark’s cooking (especially his desserts) and as he uses only the very best local produce we knew we’d be in for a treat. And when he says local, he means local, they buy their bread from the baker down the road and cheese from their neighbour, Iain Mellis.
We sipped some cocktails whilst we studied the menu, a Smoked marmalade old fashioned £7.50 for me and an Apricot and ginger negroni £8.50 for her. These were certainly made with love and attention, Saff loved their take on the traditional negroni. As this was a Sunday, 90% of the food coming over the pass were the incredible looking Sunday roasts (£25 for two). A wooden board piled high with a choice of roasted meat, potatoes and Yorkshire puds, served with a bowl of vegetables – easily enough for two to share. We were so tempted to go down the roast route but the dishes on the a la carte menu sounded too good to miss. I really was torn on what to order, it was a three way tie between the Ham hough ballontine £8, the Soft shell crab £8, or the Soup.
The Pumpkin parmesan and chestnut soup £5 served with a cheese straw was the winner. Yes I know you think that I was playing safe, but you get a good feel for the standard of cooking from a humble bowl of soup and this soup screamed quality. Anyone can purée a squash, grate in some cheese and stir in some mashed up chestnut, but Mark isn’t just anyone. It was thick, creamy and had that roasted depth of flavour that a tin of Baxters can only fantasize about.
Saff’s starter was the culinary equilivant to a trip down memory lane. Roasted Cod, “Boil in the Bag” with parsley sauce £8. The delicate while flaky cod came in its own sealed bag and a pair of scissors. Very cute, it made Saff smile with a huge wave of nostalgia for the Young’s variety from her childhood, it was certainly tastier than the original, a nice little idea.
Main course was a much easier choice. My Braised pork neck with sweet potato, pickled plum, baby leeks and puffed crackling £14, was everything I’d wished for, except for the missing puffed crackling. To be honest I was enjoying the dish so much that I didn’t even realise it was missing until I looked at the picture on the train back to London. Cooked to perfection, the meat was balanced by the sweet yet sharp acidity of the pickled plum. The leeks added some freshness whilst the small balls of sweet potato and the taragon granola some extra texture, what a great mix.
Saff was still wandering down the lane of memories and ordered the Pot roasted free range chicken with bacon waffle, braised lentils, cabbage and pancetta £16. The waffle itself was pretty bland but the chicken juicy with a wonderful thick crust, she lapped up the lentil, cabbage and pancetta in its bold broth, so incredibly flavoursome. She was either trying to recreate the amazing fried chicken and waffles we shared at Home in LA or sending me subtle hints the I still haven’t taken her to Duck and Waffle [yes, I have been wondering when that’ll be…]
The dessert list caused me yet more indecion, the Jam Jar caught my eye, not literally of course, that would hurt. Or maybe the Toffee, quince and vanilla bread & butter pudding. No, my mind was made up and in honour of Saff’s Dad’s granita and snowball cocktail obsession, I ordered the Snowball – cherry, white chocolate, granita £7. This dessert looked as stunning as it tasted, a super sweet and creamy ice cream ball with a core of frozen cherries, rolled in grated white chocolate and sat upon a sharp cherry granita. You can’t get better than that!
Saff’s dessert tried to beat it but failed, just. Her Chocolate tasting plate £7, looked stunning too – scatterings of chocolate in varying textures and depths. The mystery white powder the most intriguing, was it simply white chocolate ‘snow’ or maybe Nigella had been helping out in Mark’s kitchen? [erm, isn’t that libellous?]
Our lunch at Bistro Moderne was a fab end an incredible long weekend away in Edinburgh. The staff were attentive yet not overbearing and coped extremely well on this very, very busy sitting. Clientele was mixed and the atmosphere had a real buzz of excitement. But the main reason for its popularity, as it should be, was the standard and quality of the cooking. Mark has taken the classic concept of bistro dining and given it a real shake-up with some imaginative dishes that he is so well known for. The only downside – the nine-hour round trip on East Coast trains is just a little too much.
Open 7 days a week
Breakfast: 8 – 11am (Fri and Sat)
Breakfast: 9 – 12.30pm (Sun)
Lunch: 12 – 2.30pm
Dinner: 5.30 – 10pm
Sunday lunch and dinner: 12.30 – 9pm
Nearest station: Waverley Edinburgh