Enjoy the first and best meal of the day at Finn & Bear in Leith, says Gaby Soutar

I have a muesli wardrobe.

It’s stocked with about five different varieties, from the bulk oaty variety, via a brown-sugar crusted granola and a puffed rice thing with coconut shavings.

In the morning, I make a layered creation, as if I was doing a school project about the earth’s strata or making a luxury wormery.

After years of this diet, I am now half human, half squirrel.

Anyway, I wake hungry, love breakfast, and would cook something interesting if I wasn’t so lazy.

It’s ironic that my job is to review boring old lunches and dinners, and not the most pleasurable meal of the day.

Still, who, apart from me, wants to read about a poached egg on toast?

A shame, as it seems to be Finn and Bear’s forte. This all day eatery’s breakfast menu even features a porridge named Ferrero Podger (£7), with hazelnut and peanut granola, Greek yogurt, Nutella and pistachio. I can’t decide if that sounds amazing or disgusting. Both.

Anyway, it’s the new, rather twee-ly named sister restaurant of The Pantry, which has other outlets in Colinton and Stockbridge.

Although they’ve chosen lovely premises for the original two, they’ve doubly scored at their new Leith location.

It has a low-key living room feel, across two levels. We slotted into a pair of red velvet cinema seats, and a refurbished school chair, at the back of the space.

Although I briefed my dining partners that we weren’t doing breakfast, one will not be telt, and went for Sunshine on Leith (£9.50).

She doesn’t do sharing, so to paraphrase The Proclaimers, my tears were not drying.

There was a pair of stodgy sweet potato rosti, chunky strips of grilled courgette, a splotch of guasacaca (a citrusy Venezuelan take on guacamole, apparently, though you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference in a blind tasting), two runny-middled poached eggs and a sock-sized and buzzing-ly hot roasted green poblano chilli.

If she’d been hungover, this could’ve been the remedy, without her having to imbibe too much oil, nitrates, Irn-Bru or Cash in the Attic.

My “brazen belly of pork” (£11) option was pretty decent too. The actual ramen broth didn’t have much depth of flavour, but the solid content was good, with soft half-moons of belly meat, a dollop of kimchi (unnecessarily described as slaw on the menu), clusters of floating sesame seeds, spring onion, a soft boiled egg buoy with a gummy yellow centre and threads of pale rice noodle.

Our third main was the flat iron steak (£9.50), which came, like a Philly cheesesteak, medium rare and sliced on a ciabatta, with a layer of rocket and tomato, sweet and spicy “pineapple and mustard jam”, as well as kayak-shaped leaves of banana shallot. The sarnie lid was plastered with a Sponge-Bob-coloured and springy orange blanket of melted Monterey Jack cheese.

Oh, and there was a portion of excellent crusty edged fat chips (add £1.50).

In the name of research, we also sampled a couple of their side dishes – a stack of fat halloumi strips (£4.50), dotted with clingy sweet pomegranate molasses, like a pimped-up version of cheese and jam.

While, the chicken wings in Louisiana sauce (£5) were fat little flappers, licked in a zingy hot jus.

There doesn’t appear to be much else but cake for pudding. On our visit, there was rose and rhubarb, spiced chocolate, and chocolate and orange (all £2.60 each). As we’d asked about them at the beginning of the meal, the nicest waitress in the world (it’s official, I’m the judge) had reserved the last slice of spiced chocolate. Huzzah. It had a cardamom-y icing, and the sponge featured a faint echo of chilli.

The orangey one was better, and the floral fruity version was my fave, though they were all erring on the side of bread-y.

So, yes, the cakes may be unexciting, but this place does the second best meal of the day very well.

I’ve already made a follow-up appointment with their eggs benedict, blueberry waffles, and other brekkie accoutrements.

Everything, in fact, except the Ferrero Podger, because even this squirrel has limits.

Finn & Bear

58 The Shore, Edinburgh

(0131-555 4636, www.finnandbear.co.uk)

Finn & Bear, Edinburgh, restaurant review
Food75%
Ambience85%
80%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (14 Votes)
53%

About The Author

Gaby Soutar

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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