Hello darlings, if you haven’t dined at Rollo in Stockbridge then you must – it’s fabulous!
Darlings and fabulous seem to be words you here frequently in Rollo as Lady Ailsa presides over all her beautiful guests. Ailsa was in residence the day we visited and as one of three family members who created this cosy boutique wine bar-cum-restaurant, it’s obviously important for them to remain very hands on.
Rollo looks so cosy and inviting from outside. It’s not a big space but the candles, delightful interior and large windows make it feel bigger than it actually is. On our arrival, there looked to be two tables available; one by the front window and one right at the back of the restaurant beside the kitchen door. We were immediately shown to the table by the kitchen and I highlighted that the table by the window might be better for us. “Darling this is the most comfortable table as the table at the window only has stools not chairs and you also get to hear all the kitchen gossip at this table!”. She was right – the table was absolutely fine, right beside a cosy radiator and great for watching all the other diners’ choices being dispatched!
Rollo’s menu is made up of Bites, Bowls, Plates and Sides so we sought guidance as to how much to order for lunch. Bites are similar size to a usual starter but also the perfect size if you just fancy a wee nibble with your glass of wine. Bowls and Plates are more substantial and similar to the usual main course. We decided to choose one bite and one plate each along with a couple of sides. It was useful to get this guidance and the amount of food that arrived turned out to be perfect.
For starter I had crab pate, gooseberry jam, pickled cucumber, salt and pepper calamari, toast (£7) and Raymond had Baba Ganoush tortilla toast shard (£5.50). Our bites were presented on long thin plates and the food looked very appealing. The gooseberry jam worked well with the crab pate providing just that little bit of zing to boost the flavours of the crab. As a recent convert to calamari following a visit to The Kilted Lobster, just along the road on St Stephens Street, I was keen to try it once again. Sadly on this occasion the calamari didn’t live up to my expectations and did taste just like a soggy rubber band.
Raymond enjoyed his Baba Ganoush, an Arabic named dish translating to coy daddy or pampered papa. This flavoursome dish was an aubergine dip served with crisp tortilla shards, perfect finger food for a cold winter’s day.
At this point I really should mention the wine! It seems Ailsa uses a similar technique to us when choosing her wines. Firstly, is the label attractive and then what’s the wine like? If both the label and the wine pass the test then Ailsa adds it to the excellent wine list. We decided on a bottle of Sicilian Passimiento (£25.90), which came highly recommended on the wine list and was delicious. “Next time you must also try the Bastardo darling it’s fabulous!”
It’s great to see a menu using so many local products from other small businesses on the doorstep. For my plate, I had George Bower (the butcher across the road’s) pan fried beef fillet, rocket, parmesan, basil oil (£11.90) and Raymond opted for the roast pheasant breast, white pudding, pancetta, beetroot crisp, blackberry jus (£11.90). We decided to share a portion of chips (£3.50) and some spinach mornay ( £4.50).
The steak was extremely tender and flavoursome and worked well with the freshness of the basil oil and rocket. I felt that the dish did require the additional sides to make it work and it’s nice that you have the flexibility to choose the ones you think will work well with the plate. The spinach mornay was so luxuriously creamy with a perfect crispy crust, we fought over the last morsels in the dish. The chips on the other hand were just okay, slightly lacking in flavour but perhaps the potatoes were just having an off day.
Raymond’s roast pheasant looked amazing when it arrived and I had plate envy. The pheasant turned out to be very succulent and the contrasting textures of the crispy pancetta, beetroot and spicy oatmeal pudding made for a memorable dish. The rich jus really increased the intensity of the flavours and made the whole dish taste as good as it looked.
When we were choosing our plates and bowls I spotted Affogatto (£6.00) on the menu so my dessert decision was easy. I decided to have whisky as my choice of dram – the perfect accompaniment to good coffee and ice cream. When the dessert arrived it looked wonderful, but was the small dish of ice cream going to be too small to add the espresso and the whisky to allow the flavours to combine? It worked out ok, but perhaps a slightly bigger dish would have made the ceremony of combining all three easier. You can’t really go wrong with affogatto and it was a lovely treat.
Raymond being a chocolate lover decided on salted caramel chocolate tart with clotted cream ice cream (£6.50). The tart was rich and extremely chocolatey and went down a treat with the 100ml of dessert wine he also ordered. We couldn’t see any dessert wine on the menu so we had asked if there was any available. When we got the bill it turned out that the dessert wine cost £9.50 – more than we would usually have spent. Perhaps we missed it on the menu, but it would be nice for the dessert wines to also feature on the wine list.
We had such an enjoyable afternoon at Rollo and will definitely be back for more wine, plates and bowls. If you haven’t been yet, kick up your heels darling and pop along for a fabulous time. The boss lady will look after you.
Where to fine Rollo: 108 Raeburn Place, Edinburgh, EH4 1HH
Telephone number: 0131 332 1232