Fog, slate, dove, mole and stone. Ten years from now, there’s going to be a surge of painting and decorating work in eateries, when it comes to covering up all the variations on grey, which will inevitably become highly unfashionable. It’s going to need at least three coats.
The newly opened Raeburn hotel, bar and restaurant has fully committed to the restaurateur’s shade du jour.
It works, in that it makes this Georgian detached house feel warren-like and cosy, though, the interior is so well finished this place feels like part of an upmarket chain, rather than a family business in a building that was rescued from demolition back in 2011.
This attention to detail includes a speaker disguised as a rock in one of the flower beds. It was playing Michael Bublé on our visit. I knew it wasn’t the actual Bublé, as he’s slightly taller than a geranium.
Past the packed bar area, along a corridor, and into the restaurant, with its velveteen chairs, dappled antique mirrors and too-small wooden tables, all of which were topped with pure white ranunculus.
There is no dress code, though I spotted a lot of tweed blazers and jumbo cords. No mustard coloured versions of the latter, thankfully, or I may have had to call the slack squad division of the pantalon police. Instant arrest. Sometimes execution.
Chef Nico Ewart heads up the kitchen, and the menu has an emphasis on fishy things.
Our starter – ceviche of shellfish (£8) – served starkly on a black plate, featured a long unleavened shard of tawny Sardinian crispbread, with a tumble of stuff at its end. The best bits were the rillette-like and citrusy shredded crab, and a creamy slick of avocado purée.
It’s a fail for the other stuff. The air dried tomatoes were too intense for the fish, there were two tiny knobs of rubbery lobster, an existential whole cherry tomato (which we could hear whispering “why am I here?”), a segment of lime and a leafy sprig.
My outdoor reared pork terrine (£6) was rather lovely, with a roughly hewn centre and wrappings of bacon then pastry. The white wine vinegar pickled vegetables that accompanied it – radish, cucumber and carrot, all delicately sliced into matchsticks or gauzy sheets – were pleasant, apart from the baby onions. After chasing one of these round my plate, with my fork as a slavering Benny Hill and the veg as some poor lingerie-clad extra, I punted it into my gob, then – crunch – realised it had barely been baptised with vinegar. Ugh.
Onto mains, and the corn fed chicken (£14) was a dull choice made good. The meat was springily soft, with a topping of crushed hazelnuts, a slick of sweet artichoke purée and a long strip of barbecued leek. Fab.
The monkfish tail (£15) would have been enjoyable, if it had been hotter. Sadly, it certainly wasn’t charred, as billed, and was barely tepid. I liked the chunky and mildly cuminy aubergine purée though.
Make sure to order a side or two, as there’s a lack of carb with the main courses. We went for triple cooked chips (£3) and all ten of them were nice. Also, on the waiter’s recommendation, we’d opted for the purple sprouting broccoli with chorizo (£3), which didn’t arrive.
Still, kudos for the roasted pineapple carpaccio (£6), with its sweet and zingy accompaniments of coconut ice-cream and a gel-like lime syrup. A dense chocolate fondant (£6) was decent, though the accompanying crème fraîche ice-cream, which tasted like a Mini Milk, lacked the fresh tang required to cut through the general sugary-ness.
So, while the interior is about as considered as it gets, the food at the month-old Raeburn needs some refining. The mistakes are silly ones, the sort a kitchen makes when it’s overwhelmed (and it’s REALLY busy here). I shall return once I’ve completed my diploma in decorative operations.
Dinner for two, excluding drinks, £58
112 Raeburn Place,
(0131-332 7000, www.theraeburn.com)