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Kilted Lobster, Edinburgh, restaurant review

Kilted Lobster's wonderfully worthwhile charitable cause isn't matched by its food offering, discovers Gaby Soutar

Published: December 21, 2015

If lobsters wore clothes, I think they’d probably go for waterproof mittens, knuckle dusters and flak jackets.

They’re pretty practical creatures. A bit irritable sometimes, but aren’t we all.

"Bah humbug, I want this place to succeed, as their charity plan is excellent"

No bow-ties, no novelty jumpers, no reindeer antlers and definitely no kilts, even at Christmas or Hogmanay.

But maybe I just don’t know them as well as this seafood-y themed restaurant does. It’s a charity that donates all profits towards its Cooking Up a Storm initiative, which involves supporting free cooking classes for, amongst others, job seekers on a low income and single parent families who want to develop their cooking skills. They’ve also set up a meal bank to invite those facing hardship to have a free feed on them.

Kudos. Here’s a point for being nice.

It opened a couple of months ago in the premises of another eatery with a Lewis Carroll-ish moniker, Karen’s Unicorn. It looks as if they might have set up the place on a shoestring, as the interior is pretty anodyne, with a vaguely seasidey theme, a stuffed toy parrot on display and a dog-eared poster in the window.

We sat, solo-diners, by the window at lunchtime. I’d called the night before, to be told they only did dinner during the week. The woman on the phone had asked when we wanted to eat – tomorrow, lunch, I’d said – then she spoke to the chef and they agreed to open just for us.

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Here’s another point for being nice.

While we waited for starters of seared scallop (£6.95) and pigeon breast (£6.45), we were presented with a rather naff looking glitter edged mirrored plate with six amuse bouche and a flourish of red and green jus. There were sweet potato fritters topped with brie, marble sized pellets of haggis and blinis with flaked salmon, all of which were pleasant, but a bit more like stomach lining party canapés than amuse bouche.

Our fishy starter came on a large cross-section of tree trunk. It was topped by a trio of scallops, which looked like three funghi on a felled oak stump, and a white bean purée. These were good, but we weren’t sure about the overpowering strip of powdered “orange pepper”, which was slightly acrid and reminiscent of Creamola Foam.

My pigeon was a lovely piece of well cooked meat. Sadly, I wasn’t sold on the little tile of stodgy fruity bread it came with, and the overly sweet pumpkin and chorizo crumble. It needed more sodium than the scattering of pink Himalayan salt round the edges of the dish. Mains were similarly confusing.

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The lamb shank (£16.95) was feathery soft and the kale was, well, kale. However, the shards of Jerusalem artichoke were shrapnel hard, the pomme purée unseasoned and the truffle honey jus tasted of bog standard meat juice.

My fillet of halibut (£21.95) was fine, with accompanying “sea vegetables” of samphire, and there were stubs of roasted salsify and a pleasantly sweet carrot and cumin purée.

So four beautifully cooked pieces of meat, but most with unnecessarily eccentric geegaws surrounding them.

Pudding was the worst bit. The chocolate, dark cherry and pistachio terrine (£4.95) could be re-classified as a rocky road tray bake, with some pink sugar hearts sprinkled over the top. I’m so unromantic.

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Our other dessert was a tiny portion of toffee apple pannacotta (£4.95) – aka a milky dessert topped with stewed apple and chocolate-y ball cupcake decorations, with the toffee element swirled over yet another mirrored and glittery plate.

Bah humbug, I want this place to succeed, as their charity plan is excellent (and may mean Edinburgh gets another visit from George Clooney).

However, the capital is a tough and competitive ocean when it comes to eating out, and the bigger fish might just laugh at a lobster wearing a kilt. I think it’s time for them to get their knuckle dusters and flak jacket on.


Lunch for two, excluding drinks, £62.20

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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