TIMBERYARD is as quiet as a Buddhist temple. That’s compared to this venue’s days as Lawson’s Timber, when the sound of serrated metal on wood meant instant brainache.
It was, literally, a spit-and-sawdust place, where students from Edinburgh College of Art queued to get the bars cut for their canvases.
Now, the dust is gone and the air feels comparatively still. Ommmmm.
Upstairs, the first floor is being used as storage (but may eventually be a gallery, said a waiter). There’s an on-site smokehouse, a private eating space, and downstairs toilets that resemble an art installation, with piped-in dripping sounds.
In the candlelit dining room, you’ll find a four-metre-high ceiling lined with ribby, bare rafters, and glass doors leading out into their dark courtyard.
You might recognise a few bits, such as a Gothic wrought-iron candlestick, if you ever visited owners and restaurateurs Andrew and Lisa Radford’s previous Edinburgh-based eatery, Atrium, which closed last year.
The new place is a family affair – their twentysomething son Ben, formerly of Cafe St Honore, is head chef, and younger offspring Jo and Abi do front of house and social media stuff respectively. The trendy young waiting staff all rock the “in disguise as someone from the past” look, sporting either a quiff/moustache/monocle or retro specs.
We were brought gratis sparkling water (filtered on-site) and bread, then talked through the menu by a rockabilly. Choose the four-course à la carte, or the set menu, with prices ranging from £10 for a main, up to £22 for four courses.
We went for the former, kicking off in the Bite section, with raw Scotch beef (£3.50) and North Uist crab mayonnaise (£3).The former option featured half a dozen transparent tissues of mammalian meatiness, topped by sheets of pickled cucumber and sprigs of citrusy wood sorrel. Five mouthfuls of joy.
Our quenelle of salty-fresh minced crab came with a starched Pringle-shaped sail of fennel seed-speckled toast, as well as a dainty salad of foraged leaves and nasturtium flowers.
In tribute to the pair of fat bronze pigeons that were perching on our long communal table, I went for wood pigeon breast (£8) as my Small course. Topped by peppery pea shoots, which trailed their Grinch-like tendrils into a dark and meaty broth, this cockle-warming dish was supersavoury, with slivers of waxy potato, peas and lentils. If this was feral, the grilled Anglesey sea bass (£7.50) was jetstream light, with a silvery plank of fish and a gravy that was studded with tomatoes as sweet as marshmallows.
Showstoppers kept coming. A Large dish of venison haunch (£17.50) was accompanied by a selection of autumnal trimmings – a smudge of puréed celeriac, crushed hazelnuts, barley, and irony kale, all doused in a burly reduction.
Gok Wan couldn’t have chosen more flattering accessories for my crispy-skinned Scrabster hake (£16) – peas, beach coriander, cockles and clams, all sweet, soft and seasidey.
On to Sweets. The plum and egg tart (£6.50) was a squelchy, sticky and roof-coating wad of pastry and syrupy goo, with a dollop of lily-gilding vanilla ice-cream. Montezuma’s chocolate mousse (£6.50) was so good that I nearly had an Aztec aneurism of sugary bliss.
With a slick layer of marmalade on top, this pudding’s sweetness was offset by a tingling blob of orange sorbet.
Timberyard is a bit of a game changer in the capital. Not only is it relatively inexpensive, it has magical atmosphere in spades, and serves locally sourced food that’s honest and vibrant.
In the future, that will include their own produce, which will be grown in another of the courtyards that surround this refurbished 19th-century warehouse.
Excuse my excitement, but I think I’ve had a spiritual experience.
Timberyard , 10 Lady Lawson Street, Edinburgh
0131 221 1222
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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