Scotsman Review
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  • Ambience - It's important that a restaurant is inviting. We rate the decor, comfort and atmosphere.
  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
  • Food - We judge dishes on flavour, but also use of produce, cooking skill and presentation
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April 17, 2017

Otro Restaurant, Edinburgh, restaurant review

A meal at Otro Restaurant is a treat for all the senses, says Gaby Soutar

Anosmia.

That’s the name for a loss of a sense of smell.

Aged about 12, my sister’s sniffing ability was knocked out of her when she was hit by a car, just round the corner from this new restaurant. While she was lying in the road, her best friend made a quick escape with the words; “If she wakes up, could you tell her that I’ve gone home for my tea?”

Anyway, she was fine, and she didn’t lose all of this sense, just enough to impinge her judgement of good perfume, or when the inside of her car needs cleaned (a bag of my niece’s unwashed shells, picked up from a beach trip, phewy).

This doesn’t always make her the best restaurant reviewing plus one, since her sense of taste is also slightly impaired.

However, what she lacks in olfactory ability, she makes up for in enthusiasm, especially since we both loved this restaurant’s other venue, New Chapter, back when it opened at the beginning of last year.

Now we’re in their brand new, much bigger and more ambitious premises – a corner spot that the Indian Cavalry Club eatery occupied until recently.

There are two high-ceilinged dining rooms – one with inky blue watercolour-style wallpaper, and another with a hazy ombre turmeric shade – as well as a private dining room, and a bright bar with high stools and a view along the tram lines to Princes Street.

The menu is similar to the one at their smaller Eyre Place restaurant, and I had a sense of déjà vu after ordering the white onion and cider soup (£5.50).

In fact, after perusing cuttings, it turns out I had exactly the same thing at the other place, though I think they’ve upped the portion size and added a couple of slices of porous and yeasty sourdough on the side.

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Anyway, it was even better than last time – velvety and creamy, with a tang of cider to lift the richness and, suspended on the surface, flotsam of dense cubes of black pudding, apple gel and acidic apple matchsticks.

Our other starter – smoked mackerel rillettes (£6.50) – was a subtle and whispery dish in green and white, thanks to three creamy spheres of fishy paste sandwiched by veil-transparent discs of radish, and flanked by cucumber kernels, horseradish cream with a very subtle spike, crumbled hazelnut and a pond green flourish of herby jus.

Mains were equally lovely.

For upmarket soul food, you probably couldn’t do better than the confit duck hash cake (£12.50). This puck of meat was dense and peppery, with a creamy fried duck egg on the top and, on the side, a dish of pickled red cabbage, caramelised walnuts and raisins. Like a really posh breakfast (and they do that too, apparently).

The crispy skinned fillet of North Sea coley (£12.50) was served on a pile of chickpeas, spicy chorizo stubs, wild garlic leaves and red onion, all circled by a whirl of fragrant ransom purée. A lovely bistro dish.

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I had another flashback when I had the warm mandarin cake (£5.50) and, yes, it seems I’ve had a take on this before.

Never mind, it was amazing, with a fruity and fluffy cube of juice-saturated sponge with a blob of chocolate ice-cream on the side and a pool of warm orange custard that should be on prescription as a panacea for sadness.

While this was relatively homely, they went all fine dining with the Yorkshire rhubarb cheesecake (£5.95), a dainty wedge of layered cake, with a vanilla flecked mantle of pink jelly on top. There were also meringue sails speckled with what seemed to be dried blueberries, vanilla ice cream, lemon curd blobs and ginger ice cream.

What a feed. I think their ambition for this bumper-sized space is warranted, I’m sure they’ll fill it.

All of my five senses were satisfied, and four of my sister’s were happy too.

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Otro Restaurant

22 Coates Crescent, Edinburgh

(0131-556 0004, www.otrorestaurant.co.uk)

How much?

Lunch for two, excluding drinks, £48.45

 

 

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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