The Festival is here! And that means lovely people staying in my flat and buying me slap-up dinners. This year’s highlight: Martin Wishart, the original and some say the best of Edinburgh’s haute cuisine. I hadn’t been for several years, and vaguely thought it might have been superseded by younger, flashier models, but such was not the case.
I’ll get the one negative point out of the way first—the room isn’t great. Subdued and beige like a chain hotel. And blinds blocked out the view of the harbour (probably not their fault on a sunny evening, but still). The service is great—mainly younger keen people with perfect timing and an enthusiastic way of talking about the food.
We had the tasting menu and it was the most accomplished and best judged example of this that I’ve had for ages. The amuse bouches were light and did their appetising job perfectly (and at no time did the currently ubiquitous a pea velouté/foam put in an appearance). The menu ran as follows:
A carpaccio of John Dory with soy sauce and plum. Delicate and restrained (and better than the rather in-your-face sashimi/carpaccio mash-up I’d had at Castle Terrace). Next lovely, juicy mackerel in a tomato broth that didn’t overpower with acidity, but brought out the sparklingly fresh flavour of the fish. Then a reanimated (in the historical sense) crab in a marie-rose dressing with veal tartare, which was fun and delicious. Then stuffed pig’s trotters, which I wish would appear more often on menus. These were meltingly tender with a little hint of colonnata (OK, lard) and some fresh, light peas—so a traditionally hearty dish turned into a pure expression of its flavours, which is just what you want on a tasting menu,
The sequence of flavours, and combinations within one dish, were clearly thought-through in a masterly way. Sometimes you can be a bit exhausted when it comes to the mega-shot of protein but I was completely ready for saddle of lamb wrapped in pork belly with gnocchi. There was a choice of puddings and I had a lively poached apricot with white chocolate mousse and a sorbet—flavours and textures that were balanced and reviving.
Needless to say this was cooking of an enormously high standard. I’ve just sketched out the sequence of food—most of them had other, interesting ingredients all of which added something else to the dishes. It was simply wonderful.