Scotsman Review
Our criteria 
  • 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.
May 9, 2016

Brandon’s of Canonmills, Edinburgh, restaurant

Brandon's of Canonmills offers some delightful grub in a relaxed setting, finds Gaby Soutar

The internet: you’re doing it wrong, restaurants.

I thought the whole point of the tangly world of cyber spider web space was to provide information, in order to make life easier, so you don’t have to actually pick up the phone and call someone, heaven forbid. How wrong I was. It’s there so we can laugh at videos of cats getting shocked by cucumbers.

This place is a good case in point. No menu online, so I have to physically go along there and see if there’s any grub worth reviewing. Grumble, grumble, down Broughton Street, past Bellevue, and I see there are two menus stuck outside on the corner spot where The Cross & Corner used to be.

One – the brunch and lunch – seems to be an all-day affair. The other – an à la carte – who knows?

We go in, ask. Nope, à la carte is only available in the evening. Darn it. Anyway, at this point low blood sugar had set in. I clumped into the booth.

If all they can feed me is soup and a scone, that’s what I will review, I thought. It’ll only be 50 words, but The Scotsman Magazine team can fill the rest of the space with a couple of giant pictures of the interior and a massive pull quote.

Maybe they can go big on my face, as long as they Photoshop it a bit first, don’t want to give anyone nightmares. Luckily, the daytime menu is less basic than I feared.

We shared a couple of options from their list of grazing dishes.

The goat’s cheese beignet (£6) was a pleasantly crunchy assortment of four castor-sized balls of orange batter, which looked more like craggy pakora than beignet. They were pleasantly light, squishy and savoury inside – though we couldn’t taste any cheese at all – and came with a smudge of smoky harissa mayo and a salad of avocado slivers, tomato cubes, cress, beetroot and grated carrot.

We’re not sure how the miso broth (£5) had ended up on the grazing menu. Can you graze on liquid? The average cow would say absolutely not.

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Anyway, it was a slurpable dark mahogany coloured generous bowlful of salty miso umami, with solid content including avocado spears, baby corn, chopped spring onion, broccoli, a tangle of buckwheat noodle cords and a marooned poached egg on top. Soul food for non-ruminants and those who don’t like to share.

Same goes for our Bigger Plate of short rib burger (£12.50), which was a hefty and fat two-inch thick patty, done to medium, with a good beefy charred flavour, packed into a sesame bun (nice, since I’m a bit bored of brioche). It came with some Elastoplast-sized strips of well-fired streaky bacon, tomato, a good caramelised onion paste and an enamel cup of decent skinny fries on the side.

There’s a choice of three slightly uninspiringly ubiquitous puddings, but we did like the salted caramel brownie (£6) – a good example of its kind, with that pleasant texture of wet compacted earth, a dollop of vanilla ice-cream on the top and some raspberry coulis puddled around. The rather formally titled sundae of ice cream (£5) had a dulce de leche-y flavour and there was caramel, sliced banana and crushed peanuts in the mix, for the full Fifties parlour experience.

Our sea buckthorn sorbet (£5), served in a Martini glass, was the prettiest peach colour and had a bloodstream-quenching sugary fizz of seaside fruity-ness. It came with a shot of Mother’s Ruin, which was a mellow sweet variety that I was brave enough to drink straight. I think the barman said it was Martin Miller’s Dry Gin. Whatever, I like it.

So, yeah, it’s worth schlepping along to this place to see what they do. Or, in a retro style, you could even phone them and ask what they’re serving (ha ha, as if).

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It’s certainly better than sitting at home watching cats freaking out at the sight of a cucumber.

Though that’s fun too.

Brandon's of Canonmills
1 Canonmills, Edinburgh,
(0131-558 7080)

How much?

Lunch for two, excluding drinks - £39.50

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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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