Scotsman Review
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  • Ambience - It's important that a restaurant is inviting. We rate the decor, comfort and atmosphere.
  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
  • Food - We judge dishes on flavour, but also use of produce, cooking skill and presentation
  • Service - The staff and pace of a meal can make or break a meal out.
  • Value - From the food on the plate to service and surroundings, we check that you get what you're paying for.
March 11, 2016

Bistro Provence, Edinburgh, restaurant review

Bistro Provence offers a flash of Provencal sunshine on a dark February day, finds Lizzy Buchan

The quality of Leith’s foodie scene is such a well-worn tale by now that it seems a waste of breath to try to tell it.

Even so, something has always put me off visiting The Shore, so be-decked with Michelin stars that everywhere you look there is some sort of jus-drizzling going on.

A recent visit to the lovely Bistro Provence, in Commercial Street, showed me that I have been missing out - but no one is allowed to say ‘I told you so’.

Rising from the ashes of former French restaurants Daniel’s and the Leith branch of La Garrigue in 2013, Bistro Provence has really started to flex its culinary muscles.

Proprietor Michael Fons, an alumni of The Kitchin and La Garrigue, has swapped sun-drenched port of Marseille for the foggy Leith docks and seems very cheerful for it.

What he has created is a delightful melting pot of authentic Provencal cuisine with a hefty portion of fresh Scottish produce.

It is hardly without honours too, having snagged an AA rosette and a recommendation in the latest Michelin guide.
There is a bit of artistic drizzling all over the food but I’ll forgive it because pretty much everything I ate was so delicious.

I opted of a delicious glass of Cuvee de Lices rose wine for a proper taste of Provence, while my partner went for a more conventional Malbec.

We were treated to some very tasty canapes to start off, including an potent tapenade and a ham hock and chutney slice so full of flavour that I could have eaten another five in a blink.

My traditional fish soup was a tad bland but it came with little bowls of comte and rouille cheese which livened things up no end.

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My partner - a dedicated carnivore - made the better choice of swerving the meatier options for a delicate plate of parmesan and salsify rolls.

Topped with delicate aoili and a toasted almond salad, it was definitely worth ordering again.

For the main event I was torn between every one of the dishes on the menu, which all sounded imaginative but not too bonkers to tempt me.

In the end I opted for the stuffed guinea fowl, which was utterly divine, with black pudding swelling the bird to an enormous size. Accompanied with both pureed and solid cauliflower and red wine jus, it was a picture of perfection.
The special dish of stuffed rabbit was too good to refuse, so my partner happily chose that with a side of sarladaise potatoes for us to share.

Sarladaise spuds make the dauphinoise look slovenly and over-the-top as they wow the taste buds using just duck fat, garlic and a smidgeon of bacon.

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Everything was so gloriously rich that I had to admit defeat after my main, dashing any hopes of sampling the peanut butter panna cotta for dessert.

Instead I had a coffee with petit fours of meringue and truffles, just so as not to feel left out.

My companion went for a prune and armagnac tart, which seemed to hit the spot as he had eaten the entire thing before he thought of offering me a bit.

Despite being rather rich, Bistro Provence’s menu is not as heavy on cream and butter as French cuisine can be and the portions are moderately sized.

A three-course dinner will only set you back £27.50, which seemed extraordinarily reasonable for the quality of the food.

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The bistro was clearly the place to be on a Saturday night as we watched table after table of diners come in and out of its doors.

The front area has been turned into what looks like a wine bar but it was the conservatory-style restaurant that clearly draws the crowds.

I couldn't help wishing we were whiling away a hot afternoon outside as I watched a French flag flapping forlornly above the lonely outdoor chairs and tables, waiting for the sun to come and tempt us out en terrasse.

I’ll definitely be out there when the sun comes.


Dinner menu includes two courses for £22.50 or three courses £27.50
The four-course degustation menu costs £39, with an additional cheese course for £8.

Bistro Provence, 88 Commercial Street, Edinburgh, EH6 6LX
0131 344 4295

Lizzy Buchan writes food and travel pieces for The Scotsman titles, when not working as the paper’s Health Correspondent. In between writing about the health benefits of lard or the Mediterranean diet, she is always looking for the latest food trend and the largest glass of wine.
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