Enlightened eating in The New Town
Located near to the foot of Leith walk, a mere 15 minute walk from Waverley train station, No 11 Brunswick St is a boutique hotel and restaurant that's been there for a few years now.
The sandwich board outside talks of "Enlightened eating" and there's a frieze on the brasserie wall listing the key figures of the Scottish enlightenment (David Hume, Adam Smith etc). The music went from muted contemporary jazz to some 50s/60s stuff. The walls are painted "hipster grey" and beside the bar summer bubbles cocktails are listed: Bakewell fizz (amaretto & fizz) - £6.50, Elderflower fizz - £5.50 and Rossini (strawberry) fizz - £6.50.
We were going for meaty mains so settled on a glass of a Argentinian Malbec each.
The food menu doesn't stray too far into uncharted waters and plays it safe with a good choice of meats rather than fancy fluff so you can leave the French dictionary at home! On our visit we had a choice of: beef, venison, pork, game bird of the day, salmon, fish of the day, and a couple of veggie options too.
We started with scallops, and it's not often you get 4 on your plate with a starter! These were light, fresh grilled queen scallops with herby leaves and Béarnaise sauce. We were off to a good start!
We're always on the lookout for something new and variations on common dishes so the red pepper pakora stood out though it was difficult to photograph. There was a strong aroma of roasted peppers (which I love) from the 3 pieces of soft pakora that were unexpectedly spicy (red chillies too presumably) but with a cooling coriander yogurt on the side.
Char-grilled venison cooked medium-rare as requested, with a green peppercorn and brandy sauce (an extra £2.75). Five thick slices of tender meat. The green peppercorn sauce was very peppery. We both shared buttered new potatoes (£3.00) and garlic buttered greens: broccoli, savoy cabbage, beans and asparagus (£3.00) which were all properly cooked and lovely.
A whole roasted pigeon rubbed with spices, celeriac and coriander pakora, butternut squash purée and spiced game jus. Tender breast but the legs were a bit overdone and dry. The pigeon was coated in star anise or perhaps five spice powder, the pakora tasted fine but seemed a bit of an odd accompaniment. We also had a side of fondant saffron potato (£3) which fitted better than the pakora. The jus was quite sweet, the puree pleasant and low on salt. So overall a good mix of seasoning.
A layered moulded pudding, nicely presented on slate with tart fresh raspberries and coulis. The tower of cranachan was mainly cream and very sweet. The chocolate spoon was cute and made from decent chocolate too. The slate was sprinkled with oats but it would've been welcomed to have more in the dessert for texture.
Described as a dark chocolate cheesecake but it was very light in colour and reminded me more of the mousse centre of a Milky Way bar with a crunchy base underneath. It was served with the tart raspberry coulis too. If you like Milky Ways then this is dessert for you!
We finished our meal with an espresso (£2.20) and flat white (£2.80) which were both quite strong.
The food was very good and filling - some of the ingredients are foraged, their cheese, which sadly we didn't have room for, comes from the Devenick dairy in Aberdeenshire, their meat comes from Hendersons and the seafood, bread and tea/coffee come from local suppliers too. The wine from Argentina was a good solid Malbec. Service was friendly and courteous. Hume would approve I'm sure!
There is WiFi and a single toilet is just down the stairs behind reception with Arran Aromatics toiletries and an old-school hand dryer. Mind the step on the way out! They maybe need to focus on doing something with the bins outside as we were seated at a window and they spoiled the view. There was a problem with the music too as static could be heard more than once - these are minor problems which should be easy to fix though.
No. 11 is in a lovely quiet area of Edinburgh but as it's off the main road it's not as well-known as it should be but it is only a short walk to Waverley or even just Leith Walk for a bus.
+ Good food, filling and tasty
+ Emphasis on quality ingredients rather than gimmicks
+ Strong coffee
+ Free WiFi
+ Good location in central Edinburgh. Trains and buses nearby
- If sitting at the window the bins spoil the view
- Static noise came through stereo more than once
- Sauces for steak are costly
Lunch served 12-5, pre-theatre 5- 6:30, dinner 6:30-9. Lunch and pre-theatre are both £20 for 2 courses or £25 for 3.
We were invited along to No 11 to write about them but Fred considers this an open and honest review.