Restaurant review: The Potting Shed, Edinburgh

The Potting Shed. Picture: Neil Hanna

The Potting Shed. Picture: Neil Hanna

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At fancy dress parties, it’s easy to identify those who are most committed to the cause.

The Potting Shed

32-24 Potterow,

Edinburgh (0131-662 9788, {http://www.thepottingshed edinburgh.com|thepottingshed edinburgh.com|thepottingshed edinburgh.com})

THE VERDICT

How much?

Lunch for three, excluding drinks,

£52.50

FOOD

6.5/10

AMBIENCE

7/10

TOTAL

13.5/20

If there’s a Sixties theme, most people will stick on a pair of John Lennon glasses, or dust off some bell-bottoms. There may even be a couple of Charles Mansons, or a solo Lulu.

However, there are always try-hards who are dressed as Bob Dylan in his Highway 61 Revisited phase, complete with an original harmonica that was bought at auction, or have, that day, visited their hairdresser with a picture of Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby.

Impressive, yet also annoying.

This gastropub, owned by the people behind the Sun Inn in Gorebridge, is a bit like that.

They’ve taken a garden theme and propogated the heck out of it. The sofas by the window are made from sack cloth, inverted terracotta pots and zinc buckets are lampshades, hoes, shears and spades are design features, rows of tomato plants line the walls, glasses are jam-jars with handles.....

It’s like a set for Last of the Summer Wine and, in common with the latter, they even have their own cast of imaginary elderly characters, who all have biogs on the website. Angus appears to be the ringleader, and then there’s Uncle Omg, Billy the Fisherman, Morag and other oddbods.

As they explain online; “The story of The Potting Shed began one warm summer’s afternoon when old Angus was on his allotment tending to his carrots and tatties whilst daydreaming that one day people would come from far and wide to sample his delicious produce...”

Someone, it seems, has been inhaling Weedol fumes.

The lunch menu, though slightly shorter than the dinner version, is as lengthy as a seed catalogue, with nibbly Bar Bits and Bobs as well as regular starters. From the former list, we shared the haggis and black pudding fritters with chip shop curry sauce (£3), as well as two starters of risotto cakes (£6) and queenie scallops (£7).

The former consisted of four crispy coated compost-coloured balls, all of which had a not unpleasant but rather wet and loose texture and were soaking in a sweet and hot gravy, while, our scallop option, served on a floral plate, featured five dinky fishy dollops, each of which was blanketed in a garlicky and sticky layer of Gruyère, then sandy-textured breadcrumbs.

Our veggy dish was fine, if a little under-seasoned – with three stodgy boluses of stringy mozzarella-centred rice.

Nothing was particularly mind-blowingly memorable, but, still, they were simple people pleasers, designed to suit all palates.

That’s why my “Uncle Omg’s Thai chicken curry” (£9) blindsided me. It featured poultry, peppers and pak choi, but that pale green sauce was throat-strippingly nuclear. My nose became a garden sprinkler. Even a soothing portion of coconut rice couldn’t dilute the heat.

Beaten, I took it away in a doggy bag, to give to a chilli fiend of a friend (who later texted me with the words “Mouth. On. Fire”). Damn you Uncle Omg.

My dining partners’ mains included a wintery and coddling hot pot (£8), with a tomatoey sauce and hunks of lamb and potato, as well as a little dish of crushed neep on the side. We also had one of their novelty “Zeki’s kebabs”, which consist of a dangling metal skewer that was strung, in our case, with prawns (£9.50), plus peppers and onions. Hot garlic butter is poured through the hole in the top, then it dribbles down the stalactite of meat and into the guillotine basket of fat chips at the bottom. Cute idea.

Pudding choices are rather prosaic. The sticky toffee pudding (£5) was as good as it gets, with a chinchilla fluffy sponge and a ladleful of chestnut-coloured sauce, but the lemon posset (£5), served in a teacup, was gurn-inducingly tart.

So, a 6.5 for food, but, wait for it, First Prize for fancy dress. Good work.

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