0131 221 0632www.hydeout.co.uk Loud music and elderly ladies do not mix. That's the conclusion that my younger sister Louisa and I (aka Hinge and Bracket) came to when we arrived at Hyde Out, the swanky new hostelry at one end of Edinburgh's Union Canal towpath. On a Friday evening, a rather brassy pop song blared out of the speakers – a tune that, tellingly, neither of us could identify.
We also seemed to be the only ones eating, and a cocktail-swigging couple had to be evicted from our reserved table before we could take our seats. But, then, this place is one of those style-bar cum restaurants (think Tigerlily on the Capital's George Street), with fuchsia Timorous Beasties wallpaper, glittery light fittings and seating that is either very high or low slung. By the time we had been landed with the menu, someone had kindly turned the music down a notch. Sweet relief.
The starters are termed Light Bites, on offer at three for a tenner, or 4 individually. We opted for a trio to share: soy and sesame beef skewers, langoustine scampi and homemade falafel. Our first choice consisted of six toothpick-impaled mini tiles of beef, with a good smoky, nutty flavour. These came from what wasn't necessarily the best cut of meat, but at least the mandible work-out would help to keep our wattles toned.
The veggy option was pretty decent: not too dry and the onion didn't overwhelm. Unfortunately, we could only eat half of this heavy offering, and we weren't desperately bowled over by the accompanying roast garlic mayo, which had an oddly glue-like texture. Last of all, the fishy starter was pretty prosaic, with petite chunks of langoustine coated in breadcrumbs. However, we did love the chunky tartare sauce it came with.
According to our lovely waitress, they were "between menus" on our visit, so a couple of the more interesting main courses on the list, such as tuna with wasabi breadcrumbs, weren't available. I went for the crispy-skinned salmon (12.50) instead and junior picked the pan-roast duck breast (14.50).
My choice consisted of a well-cooked piscine slab, with a huge whorl of straw-coloured egg noodles and some wok fried pak-choi and sweet peppers. It tasted fresh and kind of healthy. However, the billed "sesame dressing" seemed to have been replaced by chilli oil (or something), as this option was greasy and spicy enough to make my nose run.
It was fine, but I'd call this an 8.95 dish, as oppose to a 12.50 one.
Louisa's plate featured a hunk of quacker that was surprisingly juicy, considering it had been browned all the way through. This piece of meat was nesting atop a hotchpotch of orange segments, plus blanched spinach, a thimbleful of "plum jus" (more, please) and some "sauted" potatoes. Unfortunately, the latter item had the texture of wet sand.
"They're weird," said Louisa, as she tried to decant her rejected tubers onto my plate.
As this place has a Swiss chef, at pudding time we paid tribute with one of their chocolate fondues (6) – savoury cheese versions are also available.
We were presented with mahogany-hued molten chocolate, housed in the top bunk of a cute double-level glass container, with hot water below.
For dipping, there were bits of kiwi, whole strawberries, as well as cotton wool ball-sized pink and white marshmallows. I'd say that fighting over these sweet nuggets (two of them ended up on the floor) was the best fun that us biddies have had for a while.
Oh, and we also managed to put away a lemon posset (4.50), which had a zippy flavour, but was strangely sticky rather than creamy.
The verdict: we're not completely sold on the grub here. However, it should be noted that yours truly did splash out on a medicinal snifter, after I discovered Hyde Out's interesting cocktail menu (Cacao Lady, 7.50, a combination of rum, lime, sugar and creme de cacao). We may not recognise the latest pop songs, but you can't say we don't know how to enjoy ourselves.
• This article first appeared in The Scotsman Magazine, Saturday 29 January, 2011