Scotsman Review
Our criteria 
  • 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
  • Service - The staff and pace of a meal can make or break a meal out.
  • Value - From the food on the plate to service and surroundings, we check that you get what you're paying for.
July 28, 2017

Quay Commons, restaurant review, Edinburgh

Treat yourself to the best of baked goods at Leith's Quay Commons, says Gaby Soutar

I find myself in Tiso, browsing the ice axes and sleeping bags.

Then, outside, I look at the bus timetable inside the shelter, to work out which goes where, should I ever need to, you know, go to another part of town.

This is what happens when you arrive 35 minutes early for lunch, because nobody answers the phone at the restaurant, you can’t seem to make a reservation online, and you’re meeting two friends who are VERY excited to be experiencing the newest project from the Gardener’s Cottage team.

Thankfully, it turned out there were lots of tables on a Sunday lunchtime.

At least I’ll know all about the right equipment should I get into climbing.

Anyway, I was excited to make it here to find out what this three week old eatery is offering.

As information online is relatively sparse, I wasn’t sure if it’d be serving proper dinners, à la their other five-year-old restaurant, but it turns out to be a more casual affair, which functions as a bakery, bar and wine shop.

As it would be impossible for the interior to be as charming as that at Gardener’s Cottage, they’ve kept it minimal.

The only maximalist thing is their counter, which is be-decked with cakes and pastries. I wished that we could skip the savouries for once.

Also, the breakfast menu looks great, with options including black pudding and apple bun (£3.50), but we stuck to a selection of bits from the Noon to Night menu, served from 12pm until late (well, 6pm).

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Bakes feature heavily, as with the “meat pie, turnips and radish” (£12).

It consisted of a crimp-edged short-crust pastry that sandwiched a huge five inch tall slab of dense porky meat. Burly and old-fashioned, like some sort of pre-war working man’s lunch.

Incidentally, we took some of the leftover filling along to my friend’s house, to give her new dachshund a treat. She was in raptures of sausagey satisfaction, I’ve never seen a tail whir so fast. It is a tail-whirring kind of pie.

Instead of the billed accessories, it came with a couple of their salads – a beetroot mixture, and a few strips of honey-basted carrot.

They re-appeared on our salad plate (£5), which also featured a courgette, rosemary and thyme mixture, and potato, carrot tops and dill.

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We were a bit sad that the lobster brioche bun (£10), as per the menu outside, wasn’t available, so we went for the slightly less exotic version with chicken and radish (£7) instead.

Still, it took us to bun-vana, with a yeasty and perfectly spherical lid and a filling of soft chicken shreds, radish discs and a mustardy rich mayo, plus some lovely yellow tomato wedges of the sort they call heirloom (because they grow in grannies’ attics presumably) and some interesting leaves that looked as if they might have been plucked from Gardener’s Cottage’s own allotment.

I blame mindfulness for the fact that I sometimes don’t notice when something is missing from a dish.

I’m too busy enjoying the moment and what I do have – in this case, silky romero peppers, potted kipper, kalamata and Gordal olives, four hunks of fab sourdough and a pot of green-tasting oil – to refer back to the menu and notice that the main event (octopus) was missing from the “bread service” option (£15, for two to three people to share). Oh well.

Time for cake. We chose three to share.

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The winner was clearly the amazingly summery gooseberry and elderflower (£4.50) version, with a jammy fragrant filling and a thick blanket of buttercream.

We loved the chocolate and blackberry (£4.50) too, with its deep and not-too-sweet cocoa-y-ness and a sprinkling of flaked almonds on top. The addition of thyme split the crowd though – “I feel like I’ve got herbs stuck in my teeth” – said one of our party. Different strokes. Everyone was sold on the super light beetroot and rhubarb choux (£3.90).

Oh, and the coffee here, from nearby roastery Williams & Johnson, is excellent (£2.60 for a flat white).

Lovely, simple food, though it still feels like a space that’s not sure what it wants to be yet (maybe they just want to let things develop organically).

It’s also worth noting that they’re currently taking cards only, no cash, so stick all those cakes on your platinum Amex.

I’m sure that they’ll be taking reservations soon, or not. Until that time, the crampons in Tiso are absolutely fascinating.

Quay Commons

92 Commercial Quay, Edinburgh

(0131-554 6681,



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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