Posted by - 29 December 2009 - No comments

Fine dining at Martin Wishart

Edinburgh is awash with places to eat, but with only a weekend to fill, translated into foodie talk as five meals, excluding breakfast comprising of three lunches and two evening meals where does one start.  As luck would have it, one of the first things we ate in Edinburgh was haggis.  Our first introduction to the dish was lunch at Scottish-born and Michelin star chef, Martin Wisharts' eponymous restaurant in Leith.

Haggis is made from lamb’s offal (lungs, liver and heart) mixed with suet, onions, herbs and spices, all packed into a skin, traditionally made of a sheep’s stomach, which doesn't sound like it'd look very appetising.  However, when they're called Haggis Bon Bons - bitesize balls which have been covered in breadcumbs, haggis looks a lot more palatable.  These little golden balls were light, finely spiced with a meaty texture and absolutely delicious.  Not at all offally like I expected.  I could have eaten five.
Haggis Bon Bons

Martin Wishart is located on the Shore overlooking the port of Leith, about 10-15 minute cab ride from the centre of Edinburgh.   The restaurant is not much to look at from the outside.  And like many fine dining establishments it's very discreet so you can't even peer in from the outside.  As soon as we stepped out of our cab we were greeted by the Maitre d' and ushered from the cold into the warm of the restaurant.  Now this is what I call service. 

The restaurant itself is fairly small and quite a simple verging on bland and grey interior.   Perhaps, serving as the perfect backdrop to present its exquisite dishes.   On being seated at the restaurant we were presented choice of three menus: the du jour lunch, a la carte and six course tasting menu - which included a seasonal truffle inspired menu i.e. every single dish include truffle in some form.  We opted to for the lunch menu which at £24.50, with cheese as an extra course at £15.00 was a bargain.   It included a choice from the following three course menu:

Jerusalem artichoke soup
Chestnut puree, butter poached langoustine tail
Rissole of oysters
Sauce remoulade
Fillet of hake
Razor clam and almond gratin, braised leeks, curry and sauternes velouté
Roast mallard duck
Buttered savoy cabbage with sage, pommes sauté lyonnaise
Banana soufflé
Vanilla ice cream
Gâteau opera
Coffee ice cream


Now that's what I call an amuse bouche: hake covered in breadcrumbs, yummy chicken parfait, roast belly pork & squid
 At the start of the meal we were each presented with plate of delightful amuse bouche, which we were instructed to eat in a particular order.   We started with the delicious chicken liver parfait lollipop coated in a beetroot reduction; followed by a shot glass filled with braised veal cheek, brioche noisettes and capers; hake fish cake; roast pork belly (which was more fat than meat) marinated in five spice and covered with puffed rice on a stick and to finish squid cooked in a fruity and sweet reduction. 

Braised veal cheeks with capers
All delicous but my favourite was the veal, which was rich and full of flavour.   If that was the meal I would have been happy, so it certaintly boded well for the rest of the meal.

Roast mallard duck with buttered savoy cabbage with sage and pommes saute lyonnaise
As we weren't going with the tasting menu, we were keen to try everything on the menu, so quickly agreed to choose each of the options from the menu.  For starters I opted for the Jerusalem Artichoke soup which was creamy and immensely satisfying.  The AB and his mum were equally pleased with their choices - rissole of oysters served with a beetroot and rocket salad and remoulade.
The mains were also a hit.

Fillet of hake with razor clams, almond gratin, braised leeks, curry and sauternes veloute
AB's mum's verdict on the duck was silence, which meant it was good.   As for me, I went for the fillet of hake but by the time the mains were served I was already full having made the mistake of filling up on the delicous, freshly baked bread and devillishly rich French butter.  I found the fish slightly underdone but the flavours of the razor clam and almond gratin absolutely wondeful.

Gateau Opera
Despite the fact that we were all fit to burst, we all managed to make room for our desserts.  The banana soufflé was perfection and ethereally light.   While the gâteau opera was very choclately and looked almost too good to eat.

Banana souffle
We decided not to finish the meal with a coffee, but a selection petits fours comprising of handmade choclates and a mini lemon tarte arrived all the same to complete a very enjoyable meal.

Delicious petit fours
Verdict:  A fantastic treat.  The lunch menu is a great way to fine dine on a budget leaving more money to splash out on a great bottle of wine.    Despite appearances, Martin Wishart has a really relaxed atmosphere and I would highly recommend dining here. 

Martin Wishart on Urbanspoon

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