Tucked away on the corner of Alva Street and Queensferry Street is The Edinburgh Larder Bistro where a trail of fairy lights and candles lead the way downstairs to the subterranean entrance.  On this late October evening the stairway was decorated with spooky wee pumpkins, letting us know that Halloween was near and leading us into the inner sanctum below.
Edinburgh Larder Bistro
You’re not quite sure what you will find inside when you push the door open, but you are immediately struck by the cosy, welcoming atmosphere.  The booths and tables are made from old scaffolding boards, warmed up with rugs, throws and lots of little lights and candles.  The restaurant is divided into different sized rooms so it’s perfect for both intimate dining and also larger groups.
So cosy and warm inside
We had initially been attracted by their Friday Scottish Steak Night advertised on Facebook – a steak, two sides and a craft beer for £22 – bargain.  On arrival they also had a pre-theatre Autumn set Dinner menu – two courses for £15 and 3 courses for £18 (also available all night on a Tuesday and Wednesday).  With two special menu options plus their a la carte menu available there were so many delicious sounding choices.   Why had we not been before now?
The Edinburgh Larder must be Edinburgh’s most honest restaurant staying true to it’s ethical roots.  One look at Facebook or Twitter and you will see what I mean.  They are proud to support local small businesses, they embrace and champion the Slow Food ethos, they go foraging and run courses to help you learn to forage, they make their own jams and chutneys with no nasties, they make seasonal cordials and also have time to get involved with the Edible Gardening project at the Edinburgh Royal Botanical Gardens.  All these activities will certainly give you a very strong hint that the Larder menu will showcase the very best of what’s in season when you visit – we certainly weren’t disappointed.
We both decided to choose from the set menu as it all sounded so delicious.  The perfect excuse to come back another Friday night to sample the steaks and beer!
Homemade Breads
Once our menu choices were taken, homemade bread and our bin-end bottle of Romanian Pinot Noir arrived –  both turned out to be very moreish.
For starters I chose salmon cured in whisky and brown sugar with fennel and ginger marmalade and rye crackers.  The crackers were homemade, fresh and extremely crispy – just the way they should be.  The crisp texture worked so well with the marmalade and the cured salmon which was so tender it cut just like butter.  The generous portion size was a hint that the pre-theatre menu wasn’t going to be a scaled down version of the main evening event!
Raymond opted for Poached egg on spelt and herb salad with cobnut dukka.  This was a light, simple dish packed with so many different textures and flavours – delicious.
Poached Egg on Spelt and Herb Salad with Cobnut Dukkah
Now for the main course and I chose the lamb dish.  I’m never really all that keen on lamb, but there was something about the menu description of  Peelham Farm organic braised lamb with scotch broth and roast rainbow carrots that tempted me to try this dish.  Never sure about what’s going to arrive on the plate, we decided to add on a side of beef dripping chips with Hebridean Sea Salt just in case it was a wee portion  (turned out they weren’t needed but my goodness they were tasty!)
The flavours worked well together and the lamb was a real hit.  The combination of chunks of succulent lamb with the firm barley and vegetables from the scotch broth was delicious.  The chips also came into their own with their crispy exterior and soft fluffy centre whilst the carrots added a crisp sweetness to the dish.
Pelham Organic Lamb with Scotch broth and Roasted Rainbow Carrots
Beef Dripping Chips with Hebridean Sea Salt
Raymond decided to have the pan fried red mullet, golden beetroot and butterbean puree, romanesco and blackberry chilli syrup.  Again this was another explosion of fresh, seasonal flavours and textures that worked really well together.  The fish was succulent and went well with the earthy flavours from the beetroot and romanesco (not tried this vegetable before but enjoyed it!).  The blackberry chilli syrup gave it all a welcome bit of sweetness and heat.
Red Mullet – apologies for the photo quality!
To finish with, I had the hedgerow crumble with pear and sweet woodruff ice cream.  When the dark nights arrive and the temperature tumbles I crave crumble, so there was no debate – crumble it had to be!  Sweet woodruff ice cream was new to me but sweet woodruff turns out to be a plant that grows and can be foraged in woodland areas.  The crumble was one of the nicest I have tasted, packed with fruits and having just the right level of sweetness.  The crunchy topping also didn’t disappoint – so often the crumble is soft, too sugary and has no crunch.  The ice cream was lovely and creamy with a distinct sweet flavour that I assume was the taste of the woodruff!
Raymond opted for the crab apple and nutmeg posset with ginger snow that also turned out to be absolutely wonderful.  The snow was crushed ice with a perversely warm ginger flavour that lingered on the tongue.  Underneath the snow, the posset was rich and creamy with a layer of tart crab apple puree lurking below.  The dessert was a sublime combination and I’m sure the whole restaurant could hear his teaspoon scraping the bottom of the little pot for one last mouthful.
The quality of the cooking, the ambience and the service all made this one of the best value and tasting meals that we have had in Edinburgh this year.  The Edinburgh Larder Bistro is sister to The Edinburgh Larder Cafe on Blackfriars street with the recently adopted Larder@Whitmuir also  joining the family.   All three restaurants are run with the same ethos and commitment to doing things right, and you can savour this when you visit.
Edinburgh Larder Bistro also has a delicious Christmas Menu available for lunch and dinner, but you will need to be quick if you haven’t already booked.  They have decided to open up extra days in December to try to fit everyone in.
Keep an eye on their excellent Facebook page for nightly special offers and details of the whole host of events they get involved in. We will also continue to keep an eye on Facebook as there’s only one thing for us left to do – decide which night to go back for the Scottish Steak and Craft Beer deal!
Excellent Value for the quality of food provided
Just off Queensferry street… round corner from the bus stop
1a Alva Street
Tel: 0131 225 4599
Twitter @EdinburghLarder


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