What is Rib-Aye?
Almost one year ago we met a very passionate chef, Colin Hinds, who had just launched his first restaurant on St Stephen’s Street in Stockbridge called The Kilted Lobster. Colin told us at the time that he had a plan, lots of ambition and we were to keep an eye out for his next Edinburgh restaurant opening. True to his word, he has successfully launched steak restaurant Rib-Aye on 43 Assembly Street in Leith, former site of Khublai Khans Mongolian restaurant.
While The Kilted Lobster specialises in the fruits of the sea, Rib-Aye truly focuses on the meat. We went along to sample a few dishes from the menu and to hear about this latest venture. It’s fair to say at this point that if you are vegetarian or vegan then Rib-Aye isn’t for you!
Provenance of the meat is very important to Colin’s ethos and he is building relationships with West coast crofters who supply the entire carcass direct. Colin is studying to become a fully qualified butcher so that he can prepare the cuts and dry age them in the huge fridge room in the restaurant.
The Whisky Bar and Restaurant
Unlike Kilted Lobster which is quite compact, Rib-Aye is really very spacious inside. You enter the building through the whisky bar with its welcoming open fire burning away. The room then opens out to provide a snug area (with another open fire) and the restaurant at the back. The wooden floors and dark green walls provide the ideal background for the fabulous cow artwork painted by Colin’s partner Adele. The open fires, twinkling candles and filament bulbs all add to the atmosphere but our inner Nigella was calling for some tasteful fairy lights scattered around and a few cushions and throws to really make it really cosy.
The Rib-Aye Menu
To start with we had a plate of mini starters so that we could taste lots of different options from the menu. Oak Smoked Venison Carpaccio served with house pickle, Fillet of Beef Tartar, cornichon, green herb, sea salt and black pepper aioli and Chicken and Foie Gras, hazelnut, cherry, foie gras and chicken mousse.
This was our first time trying beef tartar and it was really delicious, extremely flavoursome and not at all like we expected it to be. The venison carpaccio just melted in your mouth and the rich flavour was enhanced by the delicate oak smoking. The mousse was perfectly smooth and the cracker lovely and crisp. Full size starters would be £7.95 each.
Next we tried the French Onion and Oxtail Soup served with Smokehead whisky and the combination of flavours from the onion and beef in the soup and peat smoke from the whisky were amazing. I’ve never had whisky with my soup before but the pairing combination was genius and I’m not sure I will ever be able to have soup again without a dram on the side.
Next up was the main event of the evening – The Rib-Aye with a selection of side dishes and sauces to try. All the steaks are cooked on a huge range in the middle the restaurant in an open kitchen, so the first thing we heard was the sizzle of the raw meat hitting the hot plate. Check out Grant cooking the steaks!
A blackboard lists the current steaks available and 10oz Rump, Sirloin, or Club, 6oz Fillet, 12oz Bavette, 14oz T-Bone, Tomahawk and Chateaubriand all made an appearance. The beef is house aged for 25-48 days to ensure maximum flavour and tenderness.
Sides, Sauces and Garni
There’s also no shortage of side options on the menu: Thrice cooked crispy duck fat chips – £2.45, beer battered onion rings – £2.00, crispy gnocchi & strathdon blue cheese – £2.45, cumin & honey roasted sweet potato – £2.45, toasted & roasted mushrooms – £2.45, nero cabbage & bacon – £1.95, haggis & lamb croquette – £3.45, asparagus & spinach – £2.45, pumpkin, almond & heirloom tomato salad – £4.45 and Creamy butter, butter mash – £2.00. Portion sizes are generous so sharing is definitely recommended.
Butters and Garni also allow you to choose the perfect accompaniments for your steak and sides. truffled butter – £2.95
garlic butter – £1.50, horseradish butter – £1.50, red wine jus – £1.95, classic creamy pepper – £1.95, single malt sauce – £2.45
blue cheese fondue – £2.45, beef au jus gravy – £1.95, chimichurri – £1.95, bernaise – £1.95 and wild mushroom & tarragon – £2.45
The steak was extremely tender and cooked perfectly pink. The chips were dry and crisp with a lovely fluffy interior and the onion rings large crisp and well seasoned. The stand out side for me was the rather large haggis and lamb croquette. I decided to just have half as it was so big but quickly ended up eating the second half as it was so tasty. The croquettes are crisp on the outside and packed with the spicy Haggis and Lamb mixture inside. Add the croquette to a 10oz steak and it’s meat eater’s heaven.
What about desserts?
The restaurant also has a selection of desserts just in case you have any space left after the meat feast. Madagascan vanilla brûlée with poached apple, nut crumble – £4.95, chocolate mousse ~ with brownie chunks, white chocolate ganache, candy – £4.95
Amalfi lemon cheesecake ~ with lime syrup, burnt grapefruit – £4.95, banana bread ~ with peanut butter ice cream, toffee sauce, tablet crumb – £4.95 or a selection of Scottish cheese at £8.95. We had no space left but managed to nibble away on some cheeses but next time I will just have the half croquette as the brûlée sounds amazing.
Leith is fast becoming Edinburgh’s foodie heart and it’s good to see Rib-Aye joining the growing band of fantastic restaurants there. We love that Rib Aye, just like Kilted Lobster, has a social conscience and all profits from the restaurant will go back into their Cooking up a Storm charity. It’s great to see that Colin still has a plan and stacks of passion for continued expansion……we are just wondering where restaurant three will pop up and what will it’s speciality be.
Where can I find Rib-Aye?
43 Assembly Street
Many thanks to Rib-Aye for inviting us to see their new restaurant and sample the new menu. As always all views are our own.