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Le Roi Fou, Edinburgh, restaurant review

You don't have to be arty to appreciate the beautiful food at Le Roi Fou, says Gaby Soutar

Published: May 1, 2017

Is a Forth restaurant new Roi on Le Street Fou.

Probably one of the Dadaists’ most famous actions were their poems, made by chopping up newspapers and mixing up the words.

Unhand your scissors, and see above for one I did earlier. According to the press release, this art movement is just one of the references employed by creative director Isolde Nash and chef Jérôme Henry, formerly of Anton Mosimann’s Private Dining Club and Les Trois Garçons, when creating their Edinburgh restaurant, Le Roi Fou (the Crazy King).

Other influences: architect Adolf Loos and the philosophy of the Absurd, while they’re named after (and their big-bellied logo references) Ubu Roi, a character created by French writer Alfred Jarry.

Wow. This is high brow stuff for an eatery that was once a burger bar.

The space is beautiful, but there’s nothing particularly avant-garde. Nice pepper grinders, smart walnut chairs, linen clad tables, a pretty tiled bar, a golden velvet curtain...

Food-wise and there’s a Prix Fixe menu (two courses, £17.50, or three for £21.50), a swanky sounding weekend brunch, as well as a rather pricey à la carte that champions modern European food, seasonal produce and, on our visit, featured a decent vegetarian selection of dishes. In fact, I went herbivore and chose the salad of spring vegetables, baked aubergine with pickled walnuts (£7.50) over the octopus with wild garlic aioli (£9.50). Regrets.

First of all, I was presented with the wrong dish – just the salad, no aubergine – which I sent back while my other half tucked into a pair of the most beautiful Isle of Skye scallops (£14.50) I’ve seen.

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Two plancha-seared fatties had their silky corals placed beside them, like detached Barbie arms. Alongside, there was a lemony fennel purée and some struts of Wye Valley asparagus.

I watched him, and filled up on the incredible toasted focaccia provided.

After my other half had licked the plate, my proper starter arrived, with a fridge cold squashed aubergine on top of it, no walnuts. Disappointment, though everything else on the plate was fantastic.

In fact, I’ve never had such vibrant peas, too freshly podded to have their usual sweetly fusty tinge, and paired with cooked baby carrots, more of that gorgeous asparagus, fennel, frisee, chives and broccoli.

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My oozingly buttery main of North Sea cod (£20.50) made up for the starter kerfuffle. The saffron-infused sauce was upmarket and plush – like cashmere, mink, or a Jaguar’s upholstery – with feathers of dill, more bouncy peas and some nibs of green beans. Carbs were provided by a side of crispy, skin-on and rust coloured pomme frites (£3.50).

Our other main – grilled calf sweetbread (£24.50) – featured three smooth clods of sweet meat, surrounded by an iris of glossy red wine jus, olive oil and what had been billed as harissa but didn’t have any heat and tasted to us more like salsa verde, with a zesty parsley hit. This came with a little pot of raisin and pepper speckled couscous.

Once our plates had been cleared, we were kind of forgotten about. There were only two people working the busy floor – a heroic waitress and sommelier. They were on fire, but, you know, maybe they should employ someone extra. It’s going to be busy.

We eventually looked at the menu on my phone, ordering the Valrhona chocolate marquise (£7.50) and the poached rhubarb and pistachio crumble (£7.50). The pistachio-studded crumble topping was like a flapjack, but on the sweet spot between caramelisation and carbonation, with tart stewed rhubarb underneath and a silky blob of crème fraîche on top. The chocolatey option consisted of a disc of gooey ganache, a cube of brownie, cocoa soil and vanilla ice-cream.

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Fantastic, and our feast had been bookended by a haddock brandade with miso and, at the other end, jammy strawberry jellies and fudge.

As long as they can iron out a few communication glitches, this is where you’ll find the hot table in town. And don’t worry about taking your brain, despite their arty references. As long as you remember your stomach, you’ll enjoy it.

Le Roi Fou

1 Forth Street, Edinburgh  

(0131-557 9346,

How much?

Dinner for two, excluding drinks, £85.50



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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