Restaurant review: Earthy, Canonmills , Edinburgh
EARTHY is the perfect name.It describes this independent business’s ethos of honest and wholesome food – well curated fruit, veg, meat and products that are locally, ethically and organically sourced.
And Soily, Mulchy or Muddy just wouldn’t have the same ring.
Since they opened their first outlet (which now also houses its Yum Cafe) at Causewayside in 2008, they’ve been a shopping destination for those who have tired of white-tiled aisles and self-service checkouts. Imagine this place as an old-fashioned, right-on grocers, sans striped aprons.
Their second shop opened in Portobello last August. Then, back in April, their newest sprout popped its head up – a store and eatery at Canonmills, in the former premises of Spanish restaurant Dionika.
It’s taken them a couple of months to find a chef, but they’ve bagged Calum Evans of Edinburgh supper club Crescent Dining. Now they’re bashing out lunches, breakfasts, teas and dinners.
We visited for the former. The evening menu is more formal, but this is the ideal spot for lunching, as it’s a short trot from the city centre and the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Thankfully we’d booked, as there was a horde of hipsters queuing for a seat.
Inside, it’s got a trendy farmhouse feel, with rustic wooden tables, bare bulbs that feature glowing filaments and a mural of an Alice in Wonderland-esque supper.
The daytime menu is simple, with just a dozen or so choices. Hooray for the baked Florentine (£7.95). Amazing how the right ingredients – in this case, mushrooms and a triple-organic whammy of Phantassie free-range eggs, spinach and Graham’s Dairy cream – can elevate a dish from prosaic to plinth-worthy (obviously chef’s got skills too).
Served in a pan, on a wooden board, it featured two baked eggs, with smooth yolks that were as orange as a fisherman’s jacket.
These were surrounded by a moat of creamy white sauce, which contained shreds of spinach and meaty slivers of funghi. On the side – hunks of sturdy wholemeal bread and a pat of unsalted butter (we had to ask for the latter, as, at this point, staff were looking flustered by the volume of customers).
Our other main – organic spaghetti with ginger and coriander pesto (£8.50) – was also jammed with flavour.
The herb and spice additions, injected into a mound of pasta, were fragrant alongside a bite of chilli, three pokers of asparagus, and a handful of sweet, blister-skinned Isle of Wight tomatoes.
As a side dish, we’d gone for one of their salad platters (£9.95). You choose four salads from a choice of ten, which can be viewed at the counter in the thoroughfare that connects the shop and restaurant areas.
Thanks to an excess of vibrant-looking vegetable matter, I probably deliberated longer than I might when choosing the name for a first-born.
It definitely felt indulgent (and unusual) to be presented with more than the ubiquitous rocket and cherry tom combos.
Our magical-sounding shortlist was as follows: lemon marinated fennel, dark speckled lentils and organic local rocket; quinoa, roast beetroot, chicory, pumpkin seeds, mint and coriander; cumin and coriander roasted violet turnips with toasted almonds, sunflowers seeds, cranberries and raisins; and honey-roasted aubergine with sesame and coriander.
All were lumped on to one plate, like an edible jumble sale.
The fennel salad was great, as was the turnip caboodle, with fab contrasting textures. The other two were marginally underseasoned, and needed a little more punch.
Up near the till, you’ll find a winsome display of cakes.
We went for a sticky-centred Montezuma’s chocolate brownie (£1.95), studded with walnuts. Lorna’s lemon and coconut cake (£3.50) was canary-yellow-crumbed sweetness, slicked with a thick buttercream icing that was dusted with desiccated coconut. Thanks Lorna, whoever you may be. Apple, pear and raisin cake (£3.50) was the grown-up choice, with a polenta texture and a sturdy, no frills flavour.
This place has nailed it, and that’s why it’s so busy. My only criticism, then, is that some of the queuing hipsters had to be sent away.
Might I suggest an Earthy number four?
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Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
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Temperature: 11 C to 19 C
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