Michael Neave’s Kitchen and Whisky Bar (Edinburgh)

The bar area upstairs

The bar area upstairs

Downstairs dining room

Downstairs dining room

Visited: April 2013

We will focus on the food and not on the whisky…funnily enough we’re very very hazy about that latter part…

But we do remember well that there’s pretty classical cuisine, with a personal touch, in this hidden little restaurant near the castle.

Of two three course meals, only one dish was decidedly disappointing: ravioli of crab and crayfish which were poorly filled and especially were marred by a lame, watery sauce (we think with peppers – it was advertised as a bisque but it was nothing like).

Crab and crayfish ravioli

Crab and crayfish ravioli

watery bisque

watery bisque

There is a bit of a problem in the sauce department, because also the one accompanying a very nice and perfectly cooked roe deer lacked the depth and intensity to make the dish multidimensional: it was simply good meat, not a great dish (nice carrot puree, though).

Roe deer

Roe deer

But another main of duck breast with orange, caraway, sweet potato and a vegetable ‘pancake’ (it had the texture of giant gnocchi) was on a different level, the sauce integrating with and lifting the excellent duck marvelously. This was a Michelin star level dish.

Roasted duck breast with  orange and caraway sauce, sweet potato and courgette pancake

Roasted duck breast with orange and caraway sauce, sweet potato and courgette pancake

It was preceded by a good starter, scallops (queen, good and precisely cooked) with a celeriac puree and black pudding.

West Coast scallops, black pudding, celeriac puree and caviar butter

West Coast scallops, black pudding, celeriac puree and caviar butter

With the desserts we ended on a high: both a pear tarte tatin with whisky marmalade icecream and a Hazelnut and cranberry caramel tart with Cherry sauce were lovely, non-banal, mixing deeply sweet and sour notes (especially the icecream), and showing finesse of execution in the tarts.

Pear Tarte Tatin with whisky marmalade ice cream

Pear Tarte Tatin

Hazelnut and cranberry caramel tarte and cherry sauce

Hazelnut and cranberry tart

Lovely petit fours as well.

petit fours

petit fours

There was no amuse bouche.

Service is efficient, kind, but perhaps it could be better drilled on the food. The room aims to be sharp and cutting edge, but to us it felt not enough of it and just a bit cold. Prices are kind on the wallet, given the quality (2 three courses with a bottle of very drinkable bubbly at £38 came to £100 before tip). The wine list too offers some well-priced options.

All in all, a good, easygoing dinner with the dishes of a capable chef who may still have ample margin for improvement (he’s very young!). We’re not at the level of accomplishment found, for example and at a similar price point, at the Mulroy. One to try again, but in a while.

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