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Element, Edinburgh, restaurant review

Element offers good homely food at a reasonable price tag, finds Kaye Nicolson

Published: December 1, 2015

Mention Rose Street and the likely image that springs to mind is a traditional pub or a stag do on an afternoon bar crawl.

It wouldn’t be the first location I’d think of for a midweek catch-up with a friend over dinner.

But tucked away on the thoroughfare between Frederick Street and Castle Street is Element, a refreshing bar and restaurant which stands out from its neighbours.

Walking in from the cold, we found the antidote to a bleak wintry night; a friendly welcome from a waitress who led us from the bright bar to a homely restaurant area at the back.

We reclined on comfy tartan armchairs at a table by the window, from where we admired the venue’s tasteful Scottish theme, fresh from a refurbishment last winter.

Beside us was a buttermilk wall decorated with a mural of some of Edinburgh’s most famous landmarks; the castle, the Heart of Midlothian and the Scott Monument.

Alongside these was the message: “Be in your element”.

We entered into the spirit of this as we deliberated over the menu.
We’d refrained from having alcoholic drinks, but my eye was drawn to the Edinburgh Gin cured salmon (£6).

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Served with crispy sourdough bread, it was a generous and flavoursome plate lifted by the dill creme fraiche and pickled lemons.

My companion opted for the potted Gressingham duck (£6), which arrived in a little glass ramekin alongside toasted brioche and a large dollop of apple and onion chutney.

I pinched a mouthful to find juicy strips of duck which melted in my mouth.

Having cleared our plates, it was fair to say were were anticipating a similar standard from our main courses - and we weren’t disappointed when they were served swiftly afterwards.

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The plump confit pork belly I’d ordered was resting on creamy mashed potato on a plate scattered with chunks of black pudding, breaded homemade Scotch eggs and glazed carrots.

It was the embodiment of comfort food, and the flavours were pulled together by the cider jus.

Jen’s medium rare sirloin steak (£16.95) also went down a treat, served with roast tomatoes and chunky hand-cut chips (I pinched a few, so I can vouch that they were good).

Dessert was by no means needed after such a hearty feed, however we had both spotted the chocolate and hazelnut tart on the menu and temptation got the better of us.

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The gooey Nutella-like filling was deliciously moreish, peppered with crunchy hazelnuts and served with a tangy raspberry sorbet.

I’d argue that the sorbet was too sweet alongside such a rich tart, however that may have been because our eyes were too big for our bellies.

We left in a sleepy food coma, making a pact to make a return visit during a Christmas shopping outing to have lunch and test out the cocktail menu.

Element offers good homely food at a reasonable price tag, with a twist on the usual pub grub found on Rose Street.






Kaye Nicolson writes occasional food and travel reviews for the Scotsman titles. She's a food-loving farmer's daughter who is always on the look-out for the perfect hearty meal and a good G&T.

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