I could never open a business with my parents.
I’d be too likely to regress, as you do with your mum and dad, to my teenage self. I would stay in an unmade bed until 4pm while they did all the work, huff a lot, and occasionally ask them to stick a Pop Tart in the toaster for me. The business would eventually fold when the rentals conceded to my demands for extra pocket money.
"The black olive mash was a smart addition to the darne of salmon"
It seems that father and daughter team Dean and Layla Gassabi have a more functional relationship.
They co-own the 18-year-old Edinburgh institution that is Maison Bleue on Victoria Street, which was refurbished last year, and now a new branch in Morningside.
You’ll find it on the main road (past Waitrose, Oxfam, and The Canny Man), opposite the post office.
Although they’d promised more of a bistro vibe with the new place, it’s been done up in a pretty similar vein to the original, with bare brick walls and the same “food first, then morals” neon sign.
However, perhaps as a nod to the Morningside locale and their “pinkies aloft” (and morals intact) reputation, the tables are topped by vintage floral cups with tea lights inside them, and similarly patterned side plates.
When it comes to service, it’s only been open a few weeks, so that may explain the bimblyness of the staff, who seemed to be pin-balling around the space, skimming un-focused eyes across surfaces, but not engaging with diners. It took ages for us to get our mitts on a food menu, and to get water, and to order.
As with their other eatery, simple and classic French/North African dishes and low prices are a theme, with a main for £9.90 or two courses for £14.50.
The clear winner of our set of three starters was a light version of French onion soup, topped with a single raft of a cheese slathered crouton.
Our moules grilles were served in one of those ceramic snail dishes, and featured Tic-Tac sized mussels and even more of a cockle contingent, all drowning in rockpools of garlicky Pernod injected butter. There wasn’t a lot of actual substance there, but the flavour was loud and proud.
My smoked mackerel Niçoise salad was prosaic but pleasant, with a generous heap of green beans, various salad leaves, black olives, egg segments and some rather boney bits of fish in the mix (I lined up the bones on the side of the bowl, like prison tally marks). Also, some more dressing would’ve been nice. I’m not even sure if there was any, though the beans did have the glossy sheen of Ray Winstone in Sexy Beast.
Onto mains, and the best had to be the darne of salmon, which was burnish skinned and topped with a nut-coloured and dill infused buttery sauce, which boasted an acidic white wine hit. The pile of salty coal coloured black olive mash was a smart addition too.
My second course was the pimped up sausies and chips that is merguez frites with chakchouka salad. It featured three witchy and knobbly long fingers of dense chilli-infused meat, along with a nest of skinny fries and a dollop of stewed peppers, onions and olives.
Not bad. Same goes for the lamb navarin – shoulder of lamb with garlic and tomato – which featured clods of meat that were dissolving into a soupy sauce, with lumps of carrot and potato in the mix.
There currently aren’t a lot of puddings on offer. We skipped the ice-cream and went for a chocolate mousse (£5.50), which, though the waiter talked of rosemary infusions, was bog-standard.
Anyway, I kind of wish I hadn’t bothered reviewing this family business. It’s the same as the original.
They are continuing to offer their formula of dependably decent grub, except this time there’s a vague Morningside vibe.
Pinkies aloft (just don’t choke on the tea light).
Lunch for three, excluding drinks - £49
Maison Bleue Le Bistrot
362 Morningside Road, Edinburgh
(0131 447 0345, www.maisonbleuerestaurant.com)