I do wonder, when it comes to a street sandwich, if the bread on either side influences the success of the filling.
This place has opened on a corner – the meat inbetween a funeral director and a chiropractor.
At least they’re quiet neighbours, but I’m not sure what kind of subliminal message they send. It’s either going to be a YOLO sort of memento mori – let’s go crazy, a-little-of-what-you-fancy, stuff ourselves with pies, because we’ll be shunted next door soon.
(Even if, to paraphrase Sir Billy Connolly, without the swears, life isn’t short, but the longest damn thing anyone ever does).
Or, you’re sent into a panic, and decide to eat healthily and sit up a bit straighter.
Whichever, you could probably find something to satisfy at this new restaurant, which has its original three-year-old eatery in North Berwick.
It’s in the premises of what was a Royal Bank of Scotland branch and they’ve successfully managed to split the huge space with booths, giant light-fittings and partitions of chipboard shelving covered in plants.
It’s dog friendly too. We eyed up a black lab called Ben, who was adding to the relaxed front-room vibe and not pestering anyone for scraps.
I don’t think he would have really been that keen on our salt cod brandade (£4.95) anyway. It was pleasant enough, with watercress, a few segments of orange, as well as two pure white quenelles of slightly watery mashed fishy-ness and a chunk of toast, which had a good smoky charred flavour.
The mushrooms on toast option was better (£5.50), with a similarly hefty plank of bread, heaped high and slightly soggy thanks to its cargo of meaty and creamy mushies.
These were topped with a layer of chopped raw spinach and, if you can get over the fact that it looks like flayed skin, a drift of crispy shallots. Not bad.
The mains were probably a bit less successful. They hadn’t used the best adjective to describe the “sticky chicken” (£9.95) since it was about as sticky as the plasters you put on your blisters, which eventually go floating off into the swimming pool, causing a Jaws-like over-reaction from your fellow front crawlers.
Anyway, still relatively enjoyable, with lots of thigh meat clods and a honey sweet sauce. It came with a mild kimchi on the side, and I’d ordered some rather lame truffle and Parmesan fries (£4) – bit cold, with no truffle on them.
The confit pork belly (£10.95) was slightly under-seasoned but not bad, with a big old coaster of meat and an isosceles of crackling on the side. (We saw Ben’s nose twitching). It came with a richly mayo-clotted celeriac slaw and some apple chutney.
Sadly, I felt that this belly dish needed a metaphorical fire in it, since it all tasted a bit wishy-washy.
I did, however, enjoy the pudding of thyme meringue (£5.95), as I’m a big fan of these mini sugary phantoms. The herbal element was pleasant enough, and it came with strawberries, passion fruit and lots of lemon curd (enough to plaster about 14 scones).
We also enjoyed the smooth slab of dark chocolate terrine (£5.95), with a sprinkling of pistachio crumb over the top and Chantilly cream.
There was no real need for the “hokey pokey” element, and I’m not sure why they’d gone for the Cornish name for cinder toffee. Anyway, this was a shard of inedible honeycomb-gone-wrong, and should probably be renamed “holy smokey my teeth have been forcibly extracted”.
That’s certainly not what it’s all about (knees bent, arms stretched, dentures in, ra-ra-ra).
Anyway, the food isn’t bad here, but I liked it more when I visited their original North Berwick branch three years ago (Food Score: 8/10). Perhaps it was the sea air, making me go all googly and happy, or maybe I’m just getting old.
Better jot down the number of that funeral director.
Lunch for two, excluding drinks, £47.25
(2 S Trinity Rd, Edinburgh EH5 3NR, www.theherringbone.co.uk)