Taisteal, a varied journey
Filling the void left by Field Grill in salubrious Stockbridge, their former chef, Gordon Craig, now goes it alone with a restaurant inspired by his love of travel – Taisteal translates as ‘(to) travel’ or ‘journey’ in Gaelic.
He has a wealth of experience behind him, working in restaurants such as Field, and Michelin-starred The Plumed Horse, The Waterside Inn and The Peat Inn.
Although we’d eaten in Field not long after opening we never made it to Field Grill so this was the first time we’d been in this particular building. The restaurant is long, thin, painted grey, and the walls are adorned with random food imagery and a few landscapes. An ornate framed photo of ye olde Stockbridge Market arches sits about halfway. It certainly feels like Stockbridge and seemed to be full of locals on our visit.
We were seated in a table usually laid for four but four would be a bit of a squeeze. Thankfully there was just the two of us. Moderately busy, we were quickly seated and made our choices whilst spiced popcorn was delivered to the table (yum!).
A la carte menu
We began our journey with bread, which was really good with a nice thick crust but the smoked butter tasted like it had been artificially smoked so came across as a bit plasticky (and we are fans of unusual butter, the best butter we’ve ever eaten is at Cail Bruich in Glasgow where we’ve had chicken fat and smoked pork butter among others).
To drink the Mrs had a glass of white: Meulenhof Erdener Treppchen Kabinett Riesling 2014 (175ml £12, 250ml £15, bottle £37). Always a fan of German riesling this had an unusual but not unpleasant aviation fuel aroma (!!!) and a sweet honey taste. While I had a glass of Decero Malbec 2014 (175ml £9, 250ml £11, bottle £29), a good all-rounder for meaty dishes. And so on with the food…
My starter, the duck liver parfait (£6.50), was a bit odd in that it was duck liver pâté shaped by a silicon mound of a baby Donald Duck which sat on top of a sort-of gingerbread coated chicken Kiev, which was filled with more pâté and pineapple – this was also surrounded by a wall of sweet, chopped pineapple – the salsa.
The little bon bons had ‘duck haggis’ inside which I can’t say I’ve had before but all I could really taste was the strong pâté, which I’m happy to report worked well with pineapple but it’s just that…the problem with liver pâté dishes is the pâté to toast (or oatcakes) ratio and here were two slices of toast and a lot of duck pâté but not really in spreadable form, and the bit that was spreadable was staring back at me with those cute little cartoon eyes.
I felt guilty eating little Donald thinking that perhaps it was time to embrace veganism!
The Mrs had the gin cured salmon, octopus, compressed watermelon, avocado crème fraîche and feta (£7). Lightly refreshing and summery it was a pleasant starter and something to be enjoyed with wine (or gin!) but there was too much needlessly going on. She’d have been happy with the salmon and just two of the other items.
The Mrs ordered the roast hake with grilled prawns, Thai muesli, cucumber sauce and dill potatoes (£16). It was a lovely bit of fish coated in ‘Thai muesli’ (not quite sure where the Thai comes in as it just tasted nutty!), we couldn’t fault the chargrilled prawns either and the potatoes were cooked just right but the dish was simply overpowered by garlic in addition to the strong flavour of dill. As much as we love both of these we feel that you should pick one of the other rather than having two strong flavours competing with each other.
I had the pork belly and cheek, black pudding gnocchi, celeriac and apple (£16) and we agreed that this was the best dish of the night as there was a good mix of flavour and texture, with savoury meaty flavours and plenty to chew, salted lotus root crisps providing texture and apple for a little freshness and acidity.
Peanut Butter Baked Alaska was the special (cost unknown) and as the Mrs is a big peanut butter fan she nipped in before me and ordered this. Again, lots going on which made the dish run from here to there on the plate. A good gooey baked Alaska with a tasty filling but it didn’t need the ephemera circling it.
I had the preserved lemon parfait with pistachio, cherry sorbet (£6.50). It was light and dainty with the feel of a deconstructed afternoon tea and maybe more of a ladies’ dessert? Pistachios provided a bit of crunch and there was a chunky lemon-shaped white chocolate too.
A bit lukewarm, it was good but every other review we’ve seen for Taisteal suggests that it’s one of the top restaurants in Edinburgh but on our visit it just seemed like the chef was trying too hard and that there should be a bit more restraint. The duck pâté tasted fine but I’ve never been much of a fan of ‘here’s x three different ways on a single plate’, the dill and garlic together was just too much and lemon balm was a garnish on almost every dish.
We both love to holiday so a restaurant inspired by travel should be ideal for us but it’s not quite a dining destination yet but if you’re in the area it’s worth a visit. Both male and female toilet were clean but they could do with a revamp. Service was pleasant and unhurried. Buses stop on this stretch of road and it’s not too far if you want to walk from central Edinburgh. If you want a pre or post dinner drink then the Stockbridge Tap and Hector’s are just across the road, and Good Brothers Wine Bar is just around the corner.
+ Great location on main road in Stockbridge
+ Spiced popcorn on arrival
+ Very nice wine
+ Pork, black pudding, celeriac and apple was the highlight
+ Peanut butter baked Alaska
– Smoked butter tasted artificial
– Sometimes less is more!
– Someone hide the herbs!
– Get the toilets looking better please!
Tuesday – Sunday
Lunch served 12pm – 2.30pm
Dinner served 6pm – 9.30pm
Disclaimer: we received a complimentary meal for the purposes of review.