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.
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August 31, 2018

Borough, Edinburgh, Restaurant Review

The food at Edinburgh's Borough, which has filled the gap left by Norn, is life-affirming stuff, says Gaby Soutar

I’m one reader down.

My dear old dad died last month, thus breaking my run of 600 or so reviews.

Since then, the Soutars have been on the grief diet.

This started with an unusual lack of appetite, when everything tasted like a spuggy’s deserted nest. Our taste buds had battened down the hatches.

At times like this, you keep your energy up by drinking a lot of sweet tea and eating biscuits, though you can’t tell a Bourbon from a biscotti, so they’re sort of wasted on you.

Then, the balance suddenly tips, and you’re insatiably hungry for stodge, carb, salt and sugar.

Who cares, you think, YOLO, I’ll scoff what I want. There comes a time, though, when, along with going back to work, you want to eat something a little more optimistic.

A lunch at Borough seemed like the right sort of therapy. It’s in the former premises of Norn, which, before that, was The Plumed Horse.

One of the chefs from Norn, Darren Murray, is still here, while the founder, Scott Smith, has decamped to open Fhior on Broughton Street.

(Full disclosure, I tried there first and couldn’t get a table, while Borough was almost empty on our visit).

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This eatery’s former incarnation was wonderful, though formal, with its seven course menu.

Now, thanks to a slightly less grey interior, and music on the stereo, it feels a bit less reverential. We especially enjoyed the chat from their entertaining restaurant manager, Richard Kyle, who’s come from Fishers in the City.

Choose four courses, or however many you want, there’s a flexible vibe.

Since it was my sister’s birthday, she went for the full quartet, starting with the turbot ceviche (£9).

It was beautiful, with overlapping tiles of burnish-edged cured fish, pale turnip and leek, as well as rivulets, like rain on a windscreen, of herby bright green oil. Lovely.

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She followed this up with lettuce soup (£6) – another beauty, thanks to a bowlful of white truffle shavings, like a pile of shredded wheat, strewn alongside bits of prosciutto, nasturtium flowers and their leaves.

In Latin, nasturtium means “nose twist” and, indeed, my beak was doing the full Chubby Checker with the general peppery-ness.

This came with a jug of green soup, which was designed to be poured over the top, for a dish that could make the most soporific tortoises stir from hibernation.

While junior ate this, I’d gone for something even earthier, with my chanterelle, Gorgonzola and polenta (£10). It featured a pillowy cornmeal mash, topped with loads of pretty and beefy woodland umbrellas, a drift of cheese and a golden halo of olive oil.

There was more happiness to be had with my bavette (£17) – as chewy and grainy as this cut always is, but with robust flavour that was worth the mandibular HIIT training. It came with extra iron in the form of a blob of super garlicky and creamy spinach, and there was a sturdy plank of pomme Anna on the side.

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Our other meaty main was the venison (£20) – chunks of deep feral beauty, lifted by pickled sails of carrot and fennel, a sweet pumpkin purée and pumpkin seeds. Very autumnal, even though it’s not quite conker time.

The pudding of blackcurrant, olive oil and fennel (£7) turned out to be some crumbled pieces of yellow olive oil cake, topped with aerated blackcurrant and a dollop of fennel sorbet. I liked it, though the birthday girl found the berries a bit too sour.

For a take on black forest gateau, the chocolate tart and cherry (£7) was as rich as Elon Musk, with a nutty and chocolatey case, five fat cherry halves clinging onto a rich ganache and a scoop of glossy cherry sorbet.

I ate it all, I couldn’t not.

After all, when you feel ready to graduate from sweet tea and biscuits, this new restaurant serves the sort of life-affirming food to help mend broken hearts.


50-54 Henderson Street,  Edinburgh

(0131-629 2525,



Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.
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