Auld Reekie -Timberyard/Gardener's Cottage, Edinburgh

Last weekend we explored Edinburgh and unanimously agreed that a  weekend is too short a time to spend in such a city. We managed to scratch the surface, mainly walking around and about, taking in its character, its historical sites and getting to watch a bit of rugby at Murrayfield. Oh, and we did a bit of eating as well. We started with standard breakfast fare at our hotel and ate chips at the rugby ground, saving the interesting food for the evening...

On Lady Lawson Street, not far from the Lyceum theatre, as the name suggests it, Timberyard used to be a working timber yard. Converted and furnished with reclaimed wood and salvaged finds, the restaurant has a laid back but industrial feel to it. Lit with bare bulbs and candlelight, and with a central wood burning stove, its cosy gloam wasn't conducive to my level of photography. Flash light seemed a bit too intrusive, so no photos of the food I'm afraid.

The menu is designed as a four course experience starting with a Bite to whet the appetite, a Small, a Large and finally, a Sweet. Concentrating on locally sourced and seasonal produce, I started with a Bite of haysmoked pigeon with beetroot, horseradish and scurvy grass. Thinly sliced pigeon breast had a mellow smokiness which married well with the earthy flavours of beetroot. The underlying gamey richness was cut through by peppery scurvy grass and a bit more fire from the horseradish. This was followed by squid, potato, butterbean, onion and parsley -the squid perfectly cooked. 
For the Large, I tried the special of wild mallard neck sausage with liver and heart. A showcase of beak to tail eating, it was a dish not for the squeamish. The crisp neck skin was stuffed with mallard forcemeat, homecured bacon and a savoury onion puree. The liver, panfried with a well seasoned crust and a bite-sized pop of succulent mallard heart. Alongside them, roasted mallard legs; scrawny little things complete with curled webbed feet.  Served with buttery mashed potato, pearl barley and greens, and a slick of rich meat gravy, it was a well thought out dish. 
For dessert I chose the sea-buckthorn posset with jelly and orange sorbet. Sea-buckthorn I learned, is rife along the east coast of Scotland. A silver leafed shrub bearing orange berries, that are difficult to harvest due to its thick, dense, thorns. The berries are packed with malic acid, vitamin C and beta-carotene and need to be pulped, diluted and sweetened. This resulting syrup gives a citrussy, almost peachy flavour, used in both the jelly and the posset. And as delicious as it was, I had complete dessert envy. M's crab apple and Shipwreck cider-brandy parfait with cinnamon oatmeal was a feast to both the eye and the stomach. Daarghh!
The portions were just the right size and we left feeling replete rather than uncomfortably stuffed, as we walked back through the city.
On Sunday we skipped  breakfast at our hotel and instead decided to head to Stockbridge Market. Held in Jubilee Gardens (by Saunders and Kerr Street), close to the Leith, it is open on Sundays from 10am-5pm, year round, whatever the weather. It has a mix of stalls: locally grown fruit and veg; Scottish mutton, hogget, beef and game; cheesemongers; artisan bakers and preservers; a variety of street food stalls and a smattering of handmade crafts in a compact space. We started our morning with a flat white from the Steampunk Coffee Company who roast their own beans and serve it from a bright yellow VW campervan. A rich, mellow, roast it was the perfect pick-me-up whilst we stocked up on bits and pieces for our walk up and around Athur's Seat. Had we gone later in the day, the market looked a great place for lunch too, with Babu Bombay Street Kitchen and Harajuku Kitchen catching my eye.

A stone's throw away from the market, on Deanhaugh Street, is an outlet of the Swedish style bakery Peter's Yard. I'd heard about their cinnamon buns and thought they would make a decent breakfast. The buns, ribbons of soft, milky dough, folded into a rosette that you might put on a gift wrapped present, were rippled with a cinnamon and cardamom paste. Sweetened just enough to temper the spice and good enough to get us to the top of Salisbury Crags.

We ate a late but well deserved lunch at The Gardener's Cottage, before our journey home. This grade-B listed cottage close to Calton Hill originally belonged to the gardener who tended to the gardens designed by William Playfair. In disrepair for many years, it was recently converted into a restaurant which opened a few months back. Cooking locally sourced, seasonal produce, there was a small but well formed menu served in what an estate agent might term bijoux surroundings. The two rooms hold communal tables that seat ten, which some diners seemed to embrace, whilst others found a bit awkward.

I started with squid, bacon and radicchio. Again, the squid was panfried perfectly with pieces of crisp salty bacon and wilted radicchio adding a bitter foil to the buttery richness of the juices. M ate the tagliatelle with crumbled black pudding, scattered with toasted, chopped hazlenuts adding some bite. We both ate the roast lamb served with roasted beetroot, kale and rosehip jelly. The lamb was served pink, with a thin rim of crisp, well seasoned fat and the jelly offered a sweet taste of hedgerow. My only gripe was that I got some dud roast potatoes, but M's were crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle. I finished with a wedge of Lanark blue served with a floury, spicy, apple chutney and oat cakes. M ate  the poached pear served with pear sorbet and a rich chocolate cream.

If you like the Ethicurean, The Gardener's Cottage will be right up your street. Following a similar ethos and using good ingredients simply cooked, it was a joy to relax and while away a few hours before tackling the flight home.

Tipple of the weekend -rather aptly the Auld Reekie at Timberyard. A peaty whisky, orange bitters and a slug of home smoked golden syrup, with a hunk of ice hewn from an ice block. Smokey, citrussy, fuzziness by the glass.


Labels: , , ,