IT WAS the genius accessories that lifted our main course, writes Gaby Soutar as she visits Edinburgh’s Redwood Bistro
Dinner for two, excluding drinks
This restaurant had set their iPod playlist to shuffle.
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (it’s February, people), Deacon Blue’s Real Gone Kid (“I never understood the lyrics ‘nebbing out baby’” said my other half, and I explained that I think they might actually be, ‘maybe now baby’), Cream, a bit of opera, Katie Melua, Oasis...
A mixed bag, but it fits the hybrid style of cuisine that they serve – Californian, with its eclectic fusion influences. After a couple of years’ hiatus, I was overjoyed to see the return of this place, which is still owned by head chef Annette Sprague.
It was always one of my favourite restaurants at its old location in Edinburgh’s Stockbridge, even if it’s now in a converted two up two down, opposite PC World by the busy Drum Brae roundabout.
Currently, as well as coffee and cake, they’re offering an à la carte dinner menu, from Tuesday to Saturday, with main courses from £11 to £22. Here’s hoping that they’ll eventually do a more affordable set menu, as that was always part of the draw to their old venue.
It’s hard not to precede your starter course with a Nibble when there are temptations like spicy caramel bacon popcorn (£2). This sexed-up cinema snack was reminiscent of Butterkist, but triple-encased in a crunchy toffee shell and salty crumbled pig dust. Equally addictive: the kale and parsnip crisps (£2.50), which looked like haberdashery offcuts (zips and lace), but had the texture and hue of untrodden autumn leaves, and came with a clean-tasting lemon yoghurt dip on the side.
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS
My halloumi and puy lentil salad (£6.95) featured a not as salty as usual tile of this dense cheese, as well as halved green beans, rocket and soft puy lentils in a pomegranate seed bejewelled ginger dressing that was so zingy it almost fizzed.
The cephalopod Os that were part of the crispy squid salad (£7.50) were, sadly, a little squishy and pale.
Still, the flavours were there, with five christening bangle-sized hoops on a mixture of rice noodles, chunks of sweet pumpkin and a fish sauce-spiked Thai peanut dressing.
It was the genius accessories that lifted our main course of smoked chicken breast (£13) – the pearlescent and slippery orzo pasta, crumbled toasted hazelnuts, pillowy dollops of goat’s cheese and lemon-infused courgette cubes. All the flavours were nebbing out baby.
Our huge herb marinated leg of lamb skewer (£15) was equally punchy, with five cubes of pink meat that were doused in a thick mint and coriander pesto. This came with a mixture of chickpeas, milk teeth-sized bits of feta, raw spinach, red onion and peppers.
Poor King Edward, Maris Piper and all my spuddy buddies. They were nowhere to be seen, though I didn’t miss them as much as I usually do. If, however, you do require a tuber fix, there are togarashi spiced sweet potato fries with sriracha mayo (£3.50) on the food list.
We recognised a couple of the puddings as Redwood classics.
I’ve definitely had the coconut cake with lemon curd filling and cream cheese frosting before (£5).
It was a tall wedge of sponge, furry with dessicated coconut, moistened with rivulets of icing and teamed with a ball of passionfruit ice-cream complete with crunchy seeds. It was the stuff of tea room fantasies, when cloches are rendered in soft focus. The honey drizzled fig tart (£4.75) was equally familiar, with its lemon mascarpone-covered base of cornmeal rosemary crust. Proof indeed that many of the dishes you eat at Redwood are hard to forget.
It’s wonderful to have this place back. (Though I’m not crazy about the actual venue, which is yet to develop an ambience beyond Barratt show home). When you eat out a lot, and think you know the usual edible playlist by heart, Redwood sets things to shuffle.
1 Meadow Place Road,
(0131-281 2576, www.redwoodbistro.co.uk)