Is it OK to order double duck?
This was the deep philosophical question that troubled me before my visit to Field Grill House, which has taken over from long term resident Buffalo Grill on the corner of Raeburn Place, and is the second branch of this eatery (the original Field is up on West Nicolson Street). I’d been salivating over their magical sounding menu online, but the best sounding courses had been duck parfait to start and roast breast as a main.
I suppose it would be apt, since there is a Stockbridge Duck Race a few metres from this restaurant, on the Water of Leith, every year. Still, I was relieved when the actual à la carte varied from their cyber version and had a few more mallard free options.
Mine ended up being the goat’s cheese pannacotta (£6.95) and my beau went for oxtail kataifi (£6.95).
"Though the interior looks conservative, they’re not shy in here and big confident flavours are their thing"
Who cares about those beaky pests anyway? Donald, Jemima, Ed, Orville, we don’t need you.
Both of our courses were contenders for starters of the year. Mine consisted of two silky blocks of soft slippery feral goaty-ness, topped by a drift of walnut crumb and thin props of apple. This would’ve been enough to satisfy me. However, at Field, it seems there are always a couple of extra elements to elevate the dish. On paper, that can look OTT and overly fussy but, in reality, it works. In this case, it was a cheese beignet, which, after a prod, popped like a soft centered pinata, as well as a chevron stripe of truffled honey. All those taste receptors right at the back of my mouth, on the olfactory crossroads, were doing a Mexican wave. Amazing.
Same goes for the cow starter, which very much resembled Dougal from the Magic Roundabout, sans head (perhaps after an unfortunate accident involving Zebedee and the sharp end of his spring).
The textural contrast between the crispy shredded coating and the
rich five-spice tinged stewed meat was wonderful. They’d also layered the flavour, with the beefy depth of the meat and oiliness of the pastry lifted by a neat little Monopoly village of pickled shimeji mushrooms and onions, micro herbs and a foamy celeriac and brown butter purée.
A main course of grilled venison loin (£18.50) featured rare meat that was as soft as putty. We had been slightly worried about this dish being, overall, more of a sickly pudding than a main, with its additions of roasted squash, honey mustard purée and blackberry jus, but all that sugaryness was balanced thanks to toasted gnocchi, sesame seeds and wild mushrooms.
The roast cod (£16.95) was a hearty option with a fat fillet of fish topped by a salty and detachable rust red roof, which they’d described on the menu as a “chorizo crust”. There were also finely chopped confit leeks with minuscule cubes of the spicy sausage and three herby and breadcrumbed crispy prawn balls that were each fastened to the plate with a blob of sweet chilli jam.
Pudding was a strange one. Methinks someone in the kitchen is a mad scientist. Mine was an assemblage of bits of raw fig (£6.95), a warm coconut mousse (more like a frothy spume), ginger beer jelly, crumbled shards of cinder toffee and a blob of zingy apple sorbet. At first, I was confused, but the more I ate, the more I wanted. It was like an unhealthy smoothie. The other dessert – pistachio and cherry baked Alaska (£6.95) – featured a soft Italian meringue version of this dessert, and was full of punchy, retro flavours. The accompanying cherries were kirsch marinated, and the pistachio cream was bright green and almost medicinal in flavour. I loved it – others might be scared off by its lack of subtlety.
Still, though the grey painted interior looks conservative, they’re not shy in here and big confident flavours are their thing. The food is very clever, but doesn’t allude to fine dining or Michelin stars (and is better, more unique and fun, because of that). I visited the original branch back when it opened - it was good then, but this place demonstrates how much they’ve improved over the last three years.
I’ll have to visit again and, next time, I will stick to my plan and try that parfait. As it stands, it’s me who’s giving them two little ducks (a pair of 9s). Quack quack.