Damm Twenty Seven is a Bar Bistrot. Now, having lived through the 1970s, I know the difference between a bistro and a brasserie (one is a restaurant and the other is where French women go to buy their underwear – boom boom as Mr Brush would say.)
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But I was somewhat less clear as to the difference between a bistro and a bistrot (forby the obvious addition of a “t”). Although Mr Turner confidently stated that it was just the old Parisienne word for bistro, I was hoping for more of a distinction.
Having been mooching around town, it was mid afternoon before we realised we were starving. Obviously the wrong time to catch anyone for a lunch service – and far too early for dinner.
We popped into Damm Twenty Seven bistrot on Causewayside as they do food all day.
Our server first tried to interest us in their Le Gouter – afternoon tea to me and thee. It certainly looked very tasty – offering beautiful, authentic-looking macarons alongside mini savoury quiches and ham and gruyere croissants. Tempting, but we were a bit hungrier than that, so cast our eye over the main food menu instead.
The daily charcuterie board (£12.5) was the first thing to catch our attention. (Just a small side note, the menu prints prices without the zero, so your amount comes as £12.5 – which I find deeply, deeply irritating.)
The charcuterie platter is large (you could easily share this between four – but the pair of us are gluttons, so it was going to be just fine for us). There was a selection of three quality charcuterie cuts served up with large slices of toasted rye, sourdough and sundried tomato breads along with dishes of beautifully light and zesty oil, pickled vegetables, chutney as well as huge queen olives and pickled chillies. This is obviously a kitchen that has an excellent relationship with their supplier. These were top notch, quality ingredients.
By now we were both getting quite excited, thinking we had found our new favourite place. This seemed like somewhere where you could easily while away an afternoon or two sipping a cocktail or three and nibbling away at some amazing food. With this in mind, we raced headlong into our mains.
I went for the Franco burger (surement une error?) £12.5 – which came with manchego, chorizo and guindillas chilli. I was yet again left confused – and slightly irritated. No, I don’t know what business a burger on a French menu is having being named after a Spanish dictator and nor did I really know what to make of the burger itself.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad – it just wasn’t terribly good either. The beef patty, chorizo and manchego were all somewhat overwhelmed by the very large brioche bun. The fries that accompanied it tasted as though they had been sitting in their oil for some time and were quite greasy rather than crispy.
Mr Turner thought he’d go for the ham hock and gruyere croquettes (£6.5) served with apricot mustard. Three large croquettes arrived – along with a surprisingly lovely apricot grain mustard. That was the nicest thing about this dish. The croquettes had all the texture and flavour of wallpaper paste. They coated the tongue and the inside of your mouth with a claggy, gluey mixture that took a considerable amount of swilling with Normandy cider to erase.
After that disappointment, we were tempted to just call it a day, but our lovely server convinced us to look again at the menu. The desserts – champagne sorbet (£6), crème brulee cheesecake (£6.5) – could well have been utterly delicious, but Mr Turner was firmly set on the continental cheese sharer (£15) working on the theory that the first sharing plate had been fantastic, so this could be also be good – and wipe out the memory of his main course.
He wasn’t wrong. We were presented with an amazing platter. Five very healthy slices of cheeses – representing classic choices from across Europe – came with the same accompaniments as before – toasted rye and sourdough breads, olives, pickles, chillies, chutney and oil. Both the charcuterie and cheese platters represent excellent value for money and in truth would have more than satiated all but the utterly ravenous appetites. So, I think I’ve worked out the difference between a bistro and a bistrot.
A bistrot can, just like a bistro, provide amazing food – just so long as they don’t cook any of it.
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