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The new Garden Series by Appetite dinners are held in a magical secret garden in Edinburgh

Their current menu is the Scottish Edition, with other themes in the pipeline

Published: July 8, 2021
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We’re all lacking a bit of magic and mystery in our lives at the moment.

Thankfully, the Garden Series by Appetite events will be remedying that, as their dinners take place in a very secret garden.

Only on booking, they’ll send you the address, which is city centre, near Edinburgh University, and around 10 minutes from the Royal Mile.

Long-term friends of 33 years, Charley Dickins and Nigel Kennedy came up with the concept.

That’s because, despite launching some excellent lockdown offerings, the 18-year-old catering business they originally owned together, Appetite Direct - set up with an investment of just £3000 – closed down 18 months ago. Charley had been out of the business since 2008, when she emigrated to New Zealand, until returning in 2020, though Nigel had continued to build the company through the years.

During the pandemic, Nigel “lost pretty much everything”, and hasn’t worked since October.

However, as Edinburgh chef Barry Bryson, who's currently also running an outdoor Wild Dining event at Jupiter Artland, said on The Garden Series - by Appetite Facebook page; “Welcome back”.

“I’ve always loved cooking but as the business grew, I was getting less opportunity to get in the kitchen,” says Nigel. “It’s just brilliant doing something creative again”.

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This garden concept will showcase the duo’s cooking and entertaining skills, with various themes, from “more casual feasts to five-course tasting menus”.

They can also cater to private events, including pre-theatre meals (if anywhere is open) and drinks receptions, with prices on application.

Guests will have dinner in a private walled outdoor grotto, surrounded by pink climbing roses, lady’s mantle and stone statues of greyhounds.

There’s one table in the glasshouse, and others are scattered around the green space, with shelter and shade provided by canvas sails overhead and blankets slung across the back of chairs. The place settings are laid with a single sprig of fresh lavender, there are vases of wildflowers, vintage silver cutlery, and it’s all lit by candles, for a romantic vibe that’s straight out of the pages of a glossy interiors magazine. It’s also rather intimate, as, to comply with social distancing rules, there’s a maximum of 20 guests in the garden at each sitting.

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Their current menu theme is the Scottish Edition, which starts at £50 for just the food, BYOB for £60 or go for £80 with paired wines.

It consists of three courses - “fabulous local produce, handled with care”, as Nigel says - not including the pre-starter of amuse bouche and Bakery Andante bread. This is followed by a starter of hot smoked salmon roulade, blackened mackerel, celeriac and fennel remoulade, watercress salad and sourdough croute, the main course is Campbell’s gold ribeye of Scottish beef with crispy Maris Piper potato, roast shallot and grilled sprouting broccoli and classic pepper sauce. For pudding, expect elderflower and prosecco jelly, Scottish soft fruit and cracked pepper shortbread (as well as a glass of cold Gutierrez Colosia, Pedro Ximenez sherry, if you’re treating yourself to the wine pairing). They also offer alternatives for vegetarian, vegans and those with allergies. Though if pollen makes you sneeze, you best go elsewhere.

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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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