Located on the cobbled streets just off Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, Blackfriars Restaurant & Bar is one of those places you want to try for a while, but never quite get round to visiting. But a couple of weeks ago, the stars aligned (i.e. a couple of pals were in town to celebrate their respective birthday’s), so I booked at table to finally try it out.
Opened in March 2013, the building has been split in two. On the left hand side, there’s a bar offering a range of smaller plates, along with a stonking selection of beers, coffees, wines and spirits. And on the right, a restaurant which offers a four-course, seasonal-inspired set menu each night. Having gone for cocktails before dinner, we headed straight for the restaurant on our arrival.
And I’m going to get my only grumble out of the way early. I’d called looking for an 8:30pm booking, only to be told we couldn’t be seated until 9pm. A bit late but it was fine for a Saturday. On arriving though, the restaurant was only about half full, so either everyone had left on masse or we could have been seated earlier. Right, enough of that – onto the good stuff.
And there was so much of it! First, a very impressive drinks menu, obviously created with the aim of keeping both wine and beer lovers happy. Despite a small voice saying I should have wine, the pull of the Beaver Town Gamma Ray was too strong on both me and the rest of the group. No difficult decisions to make in terms of the food, with all four courses set in stone.
The starter of grilled corn, cured trout and black pudding sounded like an odd combination on the menu but it was probably the highlight of night. The grilled corn reminded me of salted popcorn and brought an interesting new dimension to both the velvety cured trout and the strong black pudding. The second course served up some beautifully cooked red mullet, with cockles, mussels (alive, alive-oh!) and turnip tops. A simple dish but expertly constructed.
The main offered up the only choice of the night – lamb or partridge. My three fellow diners opted for the latter, whilst I went for the lamb, which was soft and tender but still packed with flavour. The seasonably rustic sides of black cabbage and salted baked beets brought together a truly morish autumnal treat.
After the unexpected size of the first three courses, we skipped the optional cheese course and went right on to dessert – apple and walnut cake with cinnamon ice cream and poached pear. Another typically seasonal dish, it was a little heavy for my liking, although the cinnamon ice cream was divine!
So, there you have it – Blackfriars ticked off my foodie bucket list and with some style. And although there are plenty more eateries in the city I’ve yet to explore yet, a return visit to Blackfriars should be in the offing very soon.