Showing posts with label cod. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cod. Show all posts

The Chase (Toronto)


Being a Toronto Life Insider has its perks. As a foodie, members can attend R&D dinners where restaurants offer a special menu, often showcasing new dishes to come. It was almost comical when dozens of us descended downtown, on a snowy Sunday evening, to visit The Chase to try their spring menu. With the blanket of snow pelting the city, it certainly didn’t feel like spring.

The 7-course menu ($155) included wine pairings from producers across Ontario, including a focus on Big Head, a little known winery from Niagara-on-the-Lake. I was excited for the evening… we were surely in for a treat given the restaurant is known for its luxurious menus drawing corporate crowds flushed with spending accounts.

Indeed, our first bites fit the bill: a truffle beignet and raw oyster. The beignet is nothing like the puffy pastry from New Orleans, instead akin to a savoury crispy falafel. The truffle scent floods the mouth with a bit of creamy freshness from the crème fraiche and chervil.


This was followed with a single smoked oyster - Taylor notes spring is a great time to enjoy the seafood as the waters are still cold. The smoked oyster was in fact refreshing, especially after the heavier truffle falafel. It was simply flavoured with a wild onion mignonette that had just a hint of spiciness to tingle the tongue. Generally, mignonette can be heavy on the vinegar. At Chase, the condiment is balanced with Chardonnay so the tanginess is mellowed and melds better with the seafood’s natural briny juices.


The shrimp and grit’s aroma proceeds the actual dish… if only I could capture the smell to share with you. Taylor explains it’s a dish he’s been tinkering with for years to really highlight his commitment in using ingredients that can be sourced within 100km of the city. K2 Milling’s red crow grits sits in a sea buckthorn hot sauce, rosemary oil and pork stock; each grain filled with so many flavours, then taken to another level with chunks of melt-in-your-mouth smoked pork hock strewn throughout.


Crowning the dish was a single shrimp grown in Stratford, Ontario, the local farm raising Pacific white shrimp sustainably. The sustainability theme is in each element of the dish – even the garnish of deep fried wild onion roots, which adds a delicious sweetness instead of getting wasted.

A dish that looks like spring is the bison. Indeed, you don’t normally think of this wooly game meat during a flowery season, but all the beautiful garnishes makes the plate seem like a flower box. The bison is quickly cured and served carpaccio style with dollops of smoked buttermilk, pickled ramp, wild watercress, and toasted hemp hearts. Each bite is interesting thanks to the varying flavours and textures.


The raviolo arrives like a bright sun, plump from being stuffed with an egg yolk and thin layer of truffle. In lieu of a cream sauce, it’s topped with truffle gastrique sweetened with maple syrup and chervil water.


Of the meal, it’s perhaps the most educating dish as Taylor explains how the herbs are cultivated using hydroponics (a new technology that raises herbs using water and fish in a closed loop system) and even provides diners with tips on how to ensure the pasta is cooked while the yolk remains molten: insulate the egg, regulate the pasta’s thickness, and never let the water temperature drop.

While the raviolo looks impressive, as soon as you cut through the pasta, the yolk is so runny it simply gushes out and mixes into the other liquids. Which could be okay, but there’s perhaps too many elements and flavours that it just didn’t tie together. Sadly, the mild truffle really didn’t stand out. If anything, aside from the egg, a sweet herby flavour was most pronounced.

I enjoyed the boozy palette cleanser, a tonic and cucumber granita with unfiltered Dillion’s gin poured table side. It’s definitely not your typical sweet granita and definitely more fun.


You can’t create a Canadian seafood dinner without cod – in fact, Taylor tells us in Newfoundland fishing means catching cod – everything else is known by name (such as going trouting). In line with his sustainable beliefs, the meal featured the limited line-caught Fogo Island cod.


The fish is sous vide with morel butter, sautéed morels, sprouted legume, and a maple vinaigrette. A lovely aromatic dashi (a concoction of bull kelp, morels, and wild onion tips) is then poured on top. While it looks like there’s a lot happening on the dish, the elements are rather mellow so the cod remains the predominant flavour with a hint of earthiness. Overall, the fish was cooked beautifully, and was a tasty dish, but a touch more seasoning will help.

Dinner ends with a lovely Ontario lamb wellington wrapped in the traditional crepe, chicken liver duxelle (heavy on the liver and light on mushrooms), and a thin layer of Swiss chard. The lamb saddle is a flavourful but tougher cut, so the Chef ensures it’s tender by sous viding it first. It was absolutely delicious and even more commendable by featuring pasture raised lamb.


Child-like gasps and giddy laughter erupts as a behemoth plate of buttermilk panna cotta is set down - we’re all astounded by the sheer size of the dessert, yet plates are cleaned amongst our table. The panna cotta is creamy and rich, but lightened with compressed candied rhubarb and dollops of rhubarb gelatin. It certainly provided the relaxing and soothing exit Chef Taylor intended.


When I first heard about the Chase’s R&D dinner, I was excited to visit the restaurant to experience the luxurious seafood creations. Yet, what surprised me the most (and has me returning) is learning the Chase cares about using ethical and sustainable ingredients. In fact, dishes aren’t about fancy exotic inputs, but rather supporting local whenever possible. It’s a restaurant that’s proud to feature garnishes from ingredients that may otherwise be thrown away… take that corporate accounts.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10
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How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 10 Temperance Street (penthouse)

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


The Chase Fish & Oyster Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Restaurant at Pearl Morissette (Jordan Station)


A day of sipping wine in the Twenty Bench region should end with some sustenance, why not a lovely dinner at The Restaurant at Pearl Morissette? Although Pearl Morissette is a winery, a low supply of wine means all tastings are cancelled “for the foreseeable future”, which means to try their wines you need to visit the restaurant.

One option is to add the wine pairing ($60) to your meal. Having already sampled a fair share already, I opted for two produced by the winery at dinner. To begin, a glass of the 2016 Cuvée Roselana ($11 for 5oz), a vibrant red rosé that’s just as fruity to match, in an aromatic but not sweet manner. Even their 2014 Cuvée Madeline ($10.50 for 3oz), a cabernet franc, had big bursts of cherry notes that when combined with a savoury main calms down and mellows into a lovely finish. Pearl Morissette makes vibrant and easy drinking wines.


The meals are tasting menu only ($85 a person, inclusive of gratuities), which changes daily. Located in the Niagara Escarpment, it’s no surprise the dinner includes a lot of produce, showcasing the bounty from the local environment. The first dish, a braised eggplant, covered with plum slices, fig leaves, and basil is the sexiest eggplant I’ve ever seen (no emoji pun intended). While the eggplant’s flesh looked white, the texture was soft and creamy accentuated with bursts of floral, sweetness, and licorice (a flavour I’m not normally a fan of but somehow works in the dish).


After all the wine tasting, I was ecstatic to see the wedge of crusty sourdough bread, served warm with a side of butter. Pearl Morissette mixes corn meal into the dough so the bread has that sponginess of sourdough but a wonderful sweetness as well.


A palm-sized bean tartlet continues the meal. On the bottom, a creamy and tangy chevre goat cheese topped with diced butter beans that adds a lovely crunch against the thin buttery tart shell. Give me more!


A scallop is lightly warmed and cubed amongst a Doe Hill pepper purée, which is surprisingly flavourful... to the point that it covers the delicate scallop. Learning more about the pepper, it’s described as very sweet. For me there was a slight bitterness mixed with a rich capsicum flavour, which pairs nicely with the sweet corn but less so with the seafood. Personally, I enjoyed the scallops plain with flecks of marigold petals.


While I don’t mind the scallop undercooked, the grilled hand-caught line cod was too rare. The outer edges were fine, flaking away and cooked through, but the thicker section had a slightly gummy texture and fishy essence – it needed another minute on the grill. Maybe if the accompaniments were stronger the fishy taste could be covered, but the tomato juice and razor clam broth were so light that couldn’t mask the undercooked fish. The best part of the dish was the freshly picked tomatoes, simply amazing. Oh, the bounty of Niagara!


While the first half of the meal was light and summery, the following wild mushrooms was a nice progression towards the main. I can see why the lobster mushroom gets its name with the red outer skin and the inside being white. Moreover, it even has a meaty texture and slight seafood essence. Along with black trumpet mushrooms, they are tossed with a bread miso so the dish has an Asian flair with a hint of smokiness.


I urge the chefs to rethink the crumble topping in the mushrooms as it adds a grainy texture to the dish, so it feels like you’re eating sandy fungi. Moreover, the dish would have benefited from a grain (like barley or a parsnip/potato puree) as it was too salty on its own. As a plus, it went wonderfully with the Cabernet Franc, the earthiness tempering the cherry notes of the wine.

Two pieces of roasted rib of beef ended the savoury courses. The Longhorn beef was wonderfully flavourful and delicious. I felt guilty that it was so enjoyable; just moments before the dish arrive I  watching two calves in the field, nuzzling each other and play fighting. Even the vegetables were fantastic: pan fried zucchini that had a lovely caramelized crust on the cut end and just cooked through retaining a crunchy texture; and lightly pickled onions that kept the meaty main bright.


The first dessert acted as a palette cleanser, a rich strawberry sorbet with a tart sweet grass sabayon that’s surprisingly light for something made with egg yolks. It’s a dish with many tastes and textures as sitting on the bottom were salted strawberry pieces dotted with herb oil.  


A goat cheesecake followed for a richer dessert, flavoured with blueberries that were plump and sweet. A side of goat cheese verbena granite added a cool element. 


After the cheesecake, we thought the meal was over - at this point, we were satisfied but not stuffed. Then two freshly baked shortbread arrive, still hot so the butter is melted throughout creating a cookie with crunchy edges but a sinfully soft centre, with peach preserve and spicebush giving it flavour. If it weren’t rich enough, a side of butter is given – great for those who like a salty and sweet combination.


Twenty Bench is such a tranquil environment that you can’t help but be present and in the moment. At Pearl Morissette there’s so much wildlife surrounding the winery: the ducks in the pond kept us entertained – the baby ones diligently swimming and so cute that it’s hard to look away. The elevated dining room with the large windows creates such an airy environment that you almost feel like you’re eating outdoors, with the benefit of central heating and cooling.

The two hours just flew by, I couldn’t believe the meal came to an end. During late August/early September, don’t be afraid of the cannon/gunshot sounds that pierce through the air every few minutes. It’s simply compressed air used to deter birds from eating the ripe grapes. I just don’t know about the effectiveness of the machine, it certainly didn’t scare away the ducks, those little fellows could swim forever. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Jordan Station, Canada
 Address: 3953 Jordan Road

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

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Langdon Hall (Cambridge)


Many friends have suggested a visit to Langdon Hall for a great meal. It’s the place they go to celebrate an anniversary, propose, or even attend a wedding. Langdon Hall is that special location combining beautiful lush grounds, a historic stately mansion, and excellent dependable cuisine that isn’t easy to come by. The most comparable experience I’ve had is dinner at the French Laundry, which occupies a converted laundry house in Napa Valley.

As I spoke to Executive Chef Jason Bangerter, passion simply exuded from him; his love for the property and desire to push Canadian cuisine to another level was apparent. As common with top restaurants, the menu features local ingredients when possible and relies on the inn’s own gardens for produce and garnishes. Even a drink like the Langdon Collins ($15) is finished off with real lavender flowers, adding a light floral essence and isn’t overpowering like syrup.

There are many ways to dine at Langdon Hall, but if you have the time and resources, their tasting menu ($165) is a top choice. The experience combines so many ingredients and meticulously plated creations, really creating an encounter that exemplifies what makes the restaurant impressive.

Take the first bite, a cube of west coast albacore tuna sitting on top of the fish’s bone (the actual specimen is actually an east coast tuna). The bite is sublime as the tuna melts onto the tongue leaving a light citrusy herb finish, it’s over before you even know it.


Even if you’re not staying the night, arrive earlier to stroll through their gardens; they’re opened to the public (it leads to their spacious outdoor pool) and a visit before dinner service may allow you to pick the chefs' brains as they gather ingredients.

We were lucky to have Chef Bangerter himself show us around the property and sample a delicious crispy radish plucked from the ground and dipped in butter for a fabulous taste of the produce. It was followed by nibbles of various fauna bringing zips of flavours you wouldn’t think could come from a simple leaf – my favourite: the typical small clovers you see in the yard that exudes a citrusy kick.
You’ll find a lot of these herbs scattered on the actual dishes. While dining at Langdon Hall be sure to eat everything, herbs aren’t simply placed onto dishes to make things look good, it adds an extra element to the dish as well.


The second dish of their tasting menu was inspired by their greenhouses. As Chef Bangerter walked through them he was captured by the beauty of the potted plants and decided to add it to his menu. A young vegetable (we were served asparagus and fennel) is potted in “earth”, which isn’t soil but rather quinoa mixed with green goddess sauce that has a sour cream and onion essence. It’s a simple but tasty dish that I could see made into a fulfilling lunch if it came in a larger pot.


More fish is served on the summer menu, a cheeky cod on cod – in this case, a deep fried nugget on salted cod for presentation. The cod was nicely battered but my piece was a bit chewy (while my husband’s spot on), likely due to mine being thicker so hadn’t been cooked as thoroughly. On the side, a beautiful oxeye daisy caper remoulade with a hint of fennel that combines perfectly - it shows that any dish with the right herbs can really be elevated.


The duck foot, on the menu, refers to the vessel rather than the actual appendage. The whimsical dish was filled with hen liver mixed with chocolate to really augment the liver’s sweetness. Pieces of crispy skin added a nice contrast and were great for digging into the silky mixture. To make it really rich, shavings of white truffle lay on top, its earthiness pairing nicely with the creamy liver texture. While this was a luxurious dish, it was still balanced and the four-bite portion just enough to satisfy without becoming overwhelming.


Who would think a dish simply named buttermilk would be so delicious? More aptly described as caviar and cream, I’d suggest eating the dish in the order it’s presented rather than picking and choosing ingredients. As you have each spoonful, a different flavour emits itself: sometimes lemongrass, other times the sweetness of snow crab, a briny touch from caviar, or a subtle fennel punch. Follow the journey for rich and refreshing contrasts; as the ingredients combine with herbs the flavours change again.


A refreshing strawberry gazpacho follows, the fruit’s sweetness combining with the tomato and basil base nicely. A bit of mascarpone is added to the broth for a hint of silkiness. A refreshing interlude.


I was surprised to see lamb tartare arrive for the “marinated lamb”, thinking the whole time it’d be a seared version. My first time having the ingredient raw, it actually works rather nicely as it’s less chewy than beef. Dollops of aioli add a creaminess to the tartare, but it’s the pool of lamb fat vinaigrette that provides a completely different rich tart kick to everything. If only there were a couple more slices of black radish, its crispiness went so nicely with the smooth tartare.


As the next course is presented, we’re advised the goat cheese is made by a local purveyor Langdon Hall has featured for many years. Turns out, this supplier is Monforte, a small artisanal cheese company often only found in farmer’s markets (I’ve purchased things at Mel Lastman’s Square and Evergreen Brickworks) or restaurants. Their subtle goat cheese adds a creamy touch to the rhubarb. The green sliced ingredients are actually immature almonds, which have that deep almond flavour but with a chewiness in lieu of crunch.


For those who have read Gastro World for a while, you know I rarely order roasted chicken at a restaurant. But, wow does Langdon Hall’s poussin impress. The breast is first cooked on the bone and is then removed when serving with a lovely honey and lavender glaze on the skin. The de-boned dark meat is wrapped in a thin prosciutto, making that one medallion so tender and flavourful. A generous slice of seared foie gras accompanies and is thinly sliced allowing the crispy coating to be tasted throughout. Finishing off the plate are just cooked through sweet turnips and peas with their shoots and flowers… great for cutting the fatness of the foie gras.  


The first slightly sweet dish featured a “taste of the garden” with a blackberry strawberry sorbet adorned with various foraged leaves and edible flowers. A salty crumble sits at the bottom mixing with the sweet sorbet, the garnishes are both citrusy and bitter. All together, the dish has a Thai flare with its combination of flavours.

The plating is stunning with a pair of hands screened onto the front and back of the dish, reminding diners of the caring hands require to create the lovely dishes. Indeed, Langdon Hall employs a fleet of gardeners who work with Chef Bangerter to cultivate the ingredients – including tropical specimens you wouldn’t think could survive in the Ontario climate. The Chef’s next challenge for them: possibly having his own cocoa trees on site.

As the Ontario bee population rebounds, their sweet nectar is making its way back to desserts. Langdon Hall’s honey box (that’s what she said), features a salty cube of honey comb with a light and fluffy honey foam on top. A sprinkling of honey pollen completes the dessert adding a slight floral essence.  


To end, a gorgeous milk chocolate hazelnut bomb. As it’s first presented, the half sphere looks like it could be a fruity dessert; get through all the flowers and into the dome and you’ll find a chocolate mousse surprise, which goes great with the crunchy hazelnuts.


All the chocolate used in the tasting menu is harvested from a Dominican Republic plantation that Langdon Hall works with. In fact, Chef Bangerter informed us he just returned from a trip there to participate in harvesting and roasting the cocoa. While he was there, he even whipped up a dinner for everyone with local ingredients he could find on site: the main a delicious sounding fish wrapped in banana leaves that one can only hope will make its way onto the Ontario menu.

Aside from the citrusy kalamansi jelly, the last bite of the tasting menu featured the cocoa in all its glory: a chocolate truffle with powder and nibs on top. As the rich flavours flood the mouth, you’re not greeted by the typical sweet melting pool of ganache, rather the truffle is chewy and soft so it can be held longingly on the tongue and you taste chocolate without sweetness…  a rich but not heavy ending.


During such a long meal (it lasts about three hours), a trip to their toilet is inevitable. Although it’s a bit of a journey, make sure to go downstairs to see all the old photos of the property and the Wilks family (the original owners of Langdon Hall). Of course, their home wasn’t quite as stately as the current format (a new separated event area and spa has just been constructed); nonetheless, you see pictures of the beautiful gardens that are still a prominent feature of the current location.

For being in such a quaint countryside and the inn having a relaxed cottage feel, it would be nice if they got rid of the antiquated no denim and sports jacket dress code. Of course, I understand they don’t want diners visiting in cut-off shorts, but there’s a friendlier way to create a nice dining environment that’s also welcoming. For example, at Eleven Madison Park, they stress that there’s no dress code but warn diners that people tend to dress up for the occasion. Gentlemen dine in denim, but it’s still smartly paired with a collared shirt and/or jacket. I was hardly offended to see jeans.

Aside from the dress code, I can see why Langdon Hall garners all the praise including its long standing position in Canada’s Best Restaurants list (they’re #15 in 2017).  The combination of meticulously prepared dishes and haunting beautiful surroundings is hard to replicate. The inn is only an hour away from Toronto; in a short drive you’ll be able to indulge and just get away from it all.

Overall mark - 9 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Cambridge, Canada
 Address: 1 Langdon Drive

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


Langdon Hall Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Café Moroc (in the Sultan's Tent) (Toronto)


While walking through the St. Lawrence Market district, you don’t expect to be transported into a Moroccan café with an ornate interior, gorgeous light fixtures and soothing green palm fronds. Café Moroc, located in the bar area of the Sultan’s Tent, is calming and inviting. During weekday lunches, the hushed environment is completely different from the jovial belly dancing dinners at the adjoining restaurant. It’s relaxing and serene; I get an urge to do yoga, followed by a visit to the café for couscous and mint tea.

Unlike most downtown establishments, Café Moroc doesn’t offer a special lunch menu. Combine that with their pricy a la carte, we practically had the entire dining room to ourselves during a Friday lunch. We had our choice of tables and the gentlemen working that afternoon was so friendly and attentive that I felt like Moroccan royalty. For the price conscious, you can still visit the gorgeous space for less, just order a couple of appetizers.

The hummus and pita ($10) is a fair sized portion – the dip is thick and flavourful, with a splash of olive oil to dilute everything a bit. It would have been preferable to provide patrons a mixture of crispy and soft pitas, as the hard pita is so brittle that eating the hummus cleanly can be a challenge. Don’t worry about the skimpy portion of bread that’s presented; afterwards, our waiter brought out another plate piled high with them so we could dip to our heart’s content.



Having had the starter over a decade ago, I remembered the signature maftoul ($10) being tastier. The phyllo wrapped Moroccan ‘cigars’ are filled with ground beef, raisins and cashews before being fried. If you like spring rolls, these are similar. Perhaps my palette has matured, but the filling seems less spiced and subdued. It’s more like a crispy package of cumin infused ground beef than the ‘exotic’ dish I remembered so fondly. Nonetheless, they’re still enjoyable.



Despite the meagre portion, Café Moroc’s crab cake ($14) is delicious – it incorporates enough crab and the recipe is differentiated from the typical North American coastal creation by the stronger Moroccan spices used in the filling. The crab cake is so flavourful that you don’t even need the citrusy chermoula emulsion or spicy harissa aioli that accompanies it.



Having had a great tagine in Montreal, their short rib version ($29) seemed like an ideal choice. The meat was thankfully left on the bone (the bone provides so much flavour!) and was succulent and nicely flavoured from the thick demi-glace.

In lieu of couscous, I asked the grain to be switched with saffron rice. Despite the vibrant yellow hue of the rice, there wasn’t any saffron essence at all – that lovely almost shellfish like aroma that wafts through – what a disappointment. Overall, it was a decent interpretation of the dish, but not nearly as aromatic as it should be … somehow it seems each element is cooked separately and then re-assembled and presented in the tagine, rather than cooked in the vessel.

Café Moroc also offers a fish tagine, which changes and happened to be cod ($29) that afternoon. Its flavours pales in comparison. The protein, while moist and flakey, lacked any seasoning making the overall dish bland. Perhaps, it’s due to all the strong appetizers and my own hearty short rib, but after such an exciting start for my taste buds, the fish tagine was so boring.



It’s a shame the main dishes at Café Moroc are so tame. Where are the enticing aromas or bursts of flavours to excite your taste buds? While I loved the atmosphere and service at the restaurant, you can’t help but leave feeling you’ve visited a tourist trap. If I ever return, I’ll definitely just stick with the appetizers. After all, nibbling on finger foods and digging into a plate of thick hummus would be more fitting of a Moroccan café any day.  

Overall mark - 6.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 49 Front Street East

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



The Sultan's Tent & Cafe Moroc Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Restaurant Martin Wishart (Edinburgh)

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Address: 54 The Shore
Website: http://www.restaurantmartinwishart.co.uk/
Type of Meal: Lunch



When a Michelin starred restaurant offers a 3-course lunch menu for £28.50 it’s a deal that's hard to pass up. So, we made the short cab ride out to Leith, Northwest of Edinburgh's city centre, to visit the restaurant.

Being a French restaurant, you certainly got that classic upscale French feeling when you walked into Martin Wishart with the crisp white linen, sparkly crystal and shiny silverware. Luckily, the staff were friendly and didn't appear to be snooty, albeit not nearly as friendly as the other Edinburgh restaurants we encountered. 

Not long after ordering a small dice sized horseradish beet macaron was presented meant to be eaten in one bite to wake up the palette. It was an interesting combination with the sweet macaron shell and the creamy horseradish spiked filling; a good savoury take on the French dessert. 

Following was a more substantial amuse bouche trio consisting of a haggis croquette, foie gras shavings and a parmesan cheese puff.  I thoroughly enjoyed the fried haggis ball with its smooth flavourful meat filling and crunchy exterior.  Not being a fan of foie gras, for ethical reasons, I was glad it was only a small portion. Nonetheless, it was smooth and flavourful and almost refreshing in how they prepared it – it appeared to be mixed it with something, frozen and then shaved and topped with a complementary crispy element. The cheese puff was tasty - as cheese and choux pastry generally would be, with an astonishing amount of cheese for such a small ball.

My starter, ravioli of wild mushroom, was my favourite dish of the meal.  It could have easily been a main with another ravioli and the addition of some protein. Even though the pasta dough was thin, there was still a nice chewy texture and stuffed full with diced mushrooms - the mixture being so dense that you could have sworn there was some meat in there binding it all together. The foam was delicate and allowed the woodsy mushroom flavour to shine through.  Even the sautéed cabbage sitting under the ravioli, a smart way to stop them from sliding around the dish, was delicious. 

As can be seen from the picture below, the roast cod was seared beautifully giving it a golden brown crust, which goes so well with the delicate soft fish.  The dish was a bit salty, not sure if it was from the foam, the fish or the wilted spinach on the bottom. The fish itself was good but not very memorable.  The only unexpected highlight was the thin medallions of potato boulangere dotted around the dish - deliciously flavourful with a slight herby essence, which is somewhat sad given they were an inconsequential part of the meal.

On the other hand, the navarin of Dornoch lamb my husband ordered was such an intensely flavourful dish.  This French lamb stew was a good nod to Scottish cuisine and almost like beef bourguignon.  The lamb was tender, flaked apart easily and had a rich deep sauce covering everything. This is certainly a hearty dish you want if you're hungry, Martin Wishart provides a substantial portion topped with typical stew ingredients (carrots, onions and mushrooms). Celeriac purée, served in a separate dish, accompanied the dish and added a silky, buttery and creamy touch to everything. 

French cuisine is known for their desserts and my apple tart bourdaloude did not disappoint its warm flaky crust, beautifully fanned layer of apples and dollop of chantilly cream. Thankfully, the apples were cooked well - tender throughout but still had a slight bite to it.  For me, the dessert was too sweet; I just wish the apple itself was a bit tarter so it could have cut through the sugary syrup. 

I loved that Martin Wishart has a cheese cart, which they roll over when you order the cheese plate (supplement of £10).  There are about a dozen of options available and the server asks your preference before building a cheese plate catered to your palate.  My husband, liking stronger tasting cheddars and not blue cheeses, was given a variety of French cheeses with one lone Scottish cheddar. Not pictured are some crackers and bread that is placed on your side plate when this is ordered.

Enclosed below is a picture of the chocolate macaron with black current filling ordered by another guest. I can't comment on how it tastes since I never tried it, but thought I'd share since it was so beautifully presented.



Sadly, there were a couple of slight hiccups that I found surprising for a Michelin rated restaurant.
  • Perhaps this is common in Scotland, but when we requested tea and coffee with our dessert, we were instantly charged the coffee + petit fours option with the meal (£5.95).  To make things worse, we weren't even brought any of the petit fours, despite being charged to it making each hot beverage quite costly.  I will say that I enjoyed that they heated up their teapots and milk, but still for £6 a cup it was a bit steep.  
  • The second issue was that they just couldn't remember my water choice! My guests prefer sparkling (£5.50 per bottle) while I just like plain ice water.  Both times they refilled my glass, either I or someone from my table had to stop them and state no sparkling water for me as I prefer ice.  After hearing this, they didn't offer to replace my water so I had to drink the carbonated version that I detest.  I know it’s something small, but something that easily could have been avoided – just write down the guest’s preferences somewhere!
All in all, for the price of the meal, Martin Wishart is a great value option.  For the most part the dishes were delicious and atmosphere posh, elegant and relaxing.


Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Martin Wishart on Urbanspoon