Saturday 24 May 2008

Martin Wishart

My friends will tell you I think highly of this place.

We have managed to go there at least two or three times a year for the last couple of years, sometimes for special occasions, sometimes just because we can.
I can't remember why we went the first time round, or what the occasion was but I do remember it would have been at a time when my foray into the world of fine dining had just begun. I think restaurants with stars and aiming for more can sometimes be intimidating the first time round, and if you are not treated well, can put you off the experience completely.
So, I think that Martin Wishart is such a favourite due to the way they make us feel at home, something that they do if it is you first visit or fifth. The main exponent of this is the maitre'd Stephen. He is a major asset, he is always on top of his game, unfailingly polite, chatty and obliging. No request is too difficult, not even from me. Then there is the cheese man, whose name I do not know yet but, who is very knowledgeable, who once upon a time handled my very drunken requests for Maury and truffle honey with good grace.

The restaurant is located in Leith a place which seems to be a culinary hotspot these days. I think they were here first, then joined by Tom Kitchin and the Plumed Horse, which unfortunately lost it's star this year.
The chef himself in comparison to mnay other chefs, keeps a low profile. Having said that he still has a cook school and a new cook book which was so hot off the press that he had not had time to autograpgh them. However, I appreciate his decision to keep a relatively low profile as I think it is evident in the quality and consistency of the food, something which can be affected if the chef is spread too thinly between NY, London and Paris and the various TV shows one can find them on, these days. It is good to see however that he does get recognition in the broadsheets. I noticed on this occasion the influence of the current vogue for modern methods that seems to be the stick with which Pru, Mathew and Oliver seem bent on hitting any number of chefs over the head with. There was an espuma, a number of foams, a powder and in the rhubarb pudding the transmorgification of one simple ingredient into four different incarnations, all of which worked.

It can be a lovely place to come on a sunny day, with the sun hitting off the water. The restuarant itself is light and rectanglar with about 14 tables varying from twotops to sixes. The decor is a luxe mix of, muted greens and yellows with textured wallpapers and moroccan-esque lights.

I had requested to sit at right angles to each other and we were given table eight which to my mind is one of the best as it gives you a good look at the room. Others might find its location to the kitchen entrance a bad thing, but I quite liking hearing the bustle.
We started off with an aperitif, a Kir Royale for myself and a martini for HI.
We opted, as usual for the tasting menu, subtituting the monkfish for black truffle risotto for HI, as this is his all time fav dish (alright, second to chili). I almost did the same, as I have had some bad experiences with Monkfish, but Stephen re-assured me it was delicious and in that most charming of ways, offered to pay for it out of his own pocket and give me the John Dory instead, if I didn't like it. Of course, I would never take him up of the offer but it's moments like this that count.

By the way Ronnie Corbett was there, with a lady I assume to be his missus and
being the nosey parker I am, I also overheard that table 3 had a vegan at it, and had menu had been created for them.

The meal started off with some canapes

then an amuse bouche of horseradish cream with a beetroot tuille with beetroot powder.

This was excellent. I thought it could have been hotter but the sweetness of the
tuile cut against the savouriness of the horseradish and the beetroot powder was genuis.

wild garlic veloute with scallops, green raisins and grapes. Excellent, creamy, savoury.

Yum Yum

Smoked duck with langoustine

the salt of the duck contrasted well with the sweet melon and langoustine.

Evil Monkfish! Good Monkfish! Evil-- Noo!! Good!!

Heavenly truffle risotto

Roast loin and Civet of hare with Puy lentils and chocolate sauce, my favourite meat dish here.

cheese-can't remember what they were sorry, but they were all French. Oh yes and the lovely cheese man gave me the card for the fromagerie in Edinburgh where they get their cheese from

my three!! puddings, not an assiette mind you, but three separate puddings. How happy was I?

1 of 3 Rhubarb four ways jelly, espuma and sorbet with white chocolate foam

2 of 3 fromage frais foam and lemon curd

3 of 3 chocolate with praline

HI's apple and clavados souffle. I don't like souffle.

Petite four to go with our coffee.


All I can say is that four hours later, with full happy bellies and feeing slightly tipsy we wandered out into the sunny streets of Leith.

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