Restaurant review: Field, West Nicholson St, Edinburgh

Field, in Edinburgh's West Nicolson Street. Picture: Neil Hanna

Field, in Edinburgh's West Nicolson Street. Picture: Neil Hanna

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LET’S play a word association game. “Field”. I get “mouse”, “snake”, “mushroom”, “magnetic”, “of dreams”, and “marshall”.

Field, 41 West Nicolson Street, Edinburgh

0131-667 7010, www.fieldrestaurant.co.uk

Lunch for two, excluding drinks, £47

However, I’d imagine that what Field restaurant wants us to think, semantics-wise, is nature, provenance, freshness and honesty.

Along with operations manager Rachel Conway, this new venue, in what was the premises of Home Bistro, is owned by twentysomething chef Gordon Craig and maitre d’ Richard Conway, both formerly of Edinburgh’s Plumed Horse. The latter dude has an effusive method of greeting diners.

“Good to see you,” he said to me, as I walked through the door. “How was your day?” I began to worry that my cover had been blown, but it turns out all guests get this treatment. Nice.

There is one menu for lunch and dinner, and, if you choose asterisked dishes, those on tighter budgets can eat for £11.95 for two courses or £14.50 for three.

Our starters were part of that deal (but we segued into pricier options later on, so didn’t qualify for the knock- down rate).

Both were neat terrines, with interiors like polished ammonite. Mine (£6.25) featured marbled strata of confit duck and sweet potato, picked out by dark arteries of spinach and parcelled-up in a Parma ham skin. Lovely – like luxe deli food. On the side was a rust-coloured bread-crumbed bon-bon, filled with a warm, liquid and livery parfait.

Our other, similarly presented choice, was even better, with a kind of mackerel rilette mixture (£4.95) and slivers of clementine-coloured confit butternut squash, as well as an outer membrane of chargrilled aubergine.

This plate’s accessory was a crab bon-bon, which was soft and fluffy inside.

Swallow. Pause.

“Knock-knock”.

I glared outside. “Bother those kids, banging on the window”.

It took me at least until our main courses to work out that Chef bangs on the inside of the kitchen door for service.

Next up – knock, knock – and we would have been eating on the cheap if we’d stuck to chorizo burger, gnocchi bake or pie.

However, I fancied the pan-fried hake (£12.95) and my dining partner went for the pork belly (£12.95).

The latter featured soft upper layers of melty, sticky fat and was doused in Ponzu sauce, which made for a barbecue-style, citrus-sweet finish. Its rib-sticking-ness was further accentuated by a mashed chorizo, cabbage and potato bolus, as well as steamed pak choi (well, you’ve got to have some token greenery).

What a bulging bicep of a dish. It was ripped.

My main was lighter, with a fillet of wet fish on top of a tomato-less “sautéed ratatouille”, which featured cubes of aubergine, onion and pepper. A little watery maybe, but good, with a circle of saffron mayo at its outskirts and a Jenga pile of toasty hot and fat chips.

I’m afraid the jury’s still out when it comes to the unpretentious selection of puddings.

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy my peanut butter cookie sandwich with Nutella ice-cream (£4.95, not part of the set menu). If it’d been 4pm in the office, and I had a cup of builder’s tea to hand, I would have fallen upon it like a gnashing zombie.

I just think that, after two courses, you don’t always want your sweetness in extreme bulk.

Saying that, I did manage to put away most of the gooey-centred rusks, which were cemented together with a blob of silky ice-cream.

Our other pudding was the cheesecake of the day (£4.95, part of the deal) which, on our visit, was Oreo-themed.

The base was made of crumbs of what is (inexplicably, in my mind) the US’s favourite biscuit, with a thick layer of fluffy fresh cheesiness, and a roof of these smashed-up black biccies. Stodgearama.

Still, this is the kind of place I like. It’s informal and friendly, while the food manages to be homely, yet much better than you could ever actually make at home.

Maybe I’m better at the word association game than I thought. This establishment may yet prove to be magnetic.

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