Fresh and seasonal dining in a unique and social setting

fittings mix with a gleaming new open kitchen, and Dale and Edward have also revamped the front garden to provide supplies for their eaterie.

Gone are the front lawns and in their place are rows of potatoes, rhubarb, spring onions and edible flowers.

In the back the pair have planted their own herb garden, incorporating some specimens which remain from the days when the cottage was a home.

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Although the garden will not be the sole source of ingredients, Dale and Edward say it’s central to how they plan to run The Gardener’s Cottage.

Edward, 34, said: “Seasonality is such a big way of how we cook anyway so as soon as we saw there was the opportunity to grow vegetables, it’s been the plan from day one.

“We’ll never have enough to sustain the kitchen but it means we will be reminded all the time what’s in season and see things come and go and grow some slightly different things that we wouldn’t necessarily be able to get; the more obscure herbs and the nasturtiums.”

The petals of the nasturtiums for example — edible and slightly peppery to taste — are something the pair plan to use in salad dishes.

Co-owner Dale, 27, said a seasonal menu was key to the ethos of their cooking.

“Everything we use is seasonal, it not just a fad for us,” he said.

“A lot of people say they have a local and seasonal menu just for the sake of it, but we write our menus and live by that every day.

“We don’t write menus around what we fancy, we write menus around what’s in season and what’s available; which makes life slightly hard.

“The link between the garden and the restaurant is really important; the idea of bringing vegetables straight from the garden to the kitchen, rather than importing them in boxes every day.

“It forces us to realise what’s in season, because it’s growing in our garden. If you see carrots coming up it tells us we should be using carrots.”

Their approach to dining is also unusual. Instead of sitting in private groups, diners are sat at one of three tables of ten. Communal eating is common abroad but rare in the UK.

Edward said: “The building itself is such a wonderful and unique building. Because it’s a small domestic building – it was the gardener’s cottage – it’s quite an intimate dining space. Communal dining is quite unique in Edinburgh, though it’s fairly common on the continent and in London.

“I think we’ll see more communal dining, eating is such a social thing. It’s not ever going to be for everyone or for every occasion but I do think it’s a really nice way to eat.”

While diners pay £25 for a five-course set menu, the pair work hard to ensure the food is to everyone’s taste.

“We’ll always have a few options open to us in the kitchen so we’ll write a menu around people that don’t eat shellfish, or if they are vegetarian or vegan. Everything is cooked fresh and that keeps us on our toes.”