The current NHS advice for avoiding slipping on ice is to walk like a penguin.
As the pavement was sparkling in a sinister fashion, we waddled along Colinton Road to do this restaurant review.
At least it was only a short stroll, for a pair of overly cautious rockhoppers. Or at least, I think that’s my species. I’d say he’s more of a macaroni or a gentoo.
Our destination was this new place, which is in my postcode, and is the fourth outpost for the Dine team.
They already have the nine-year-old original, in the Cambridge Street building that houses the Traverse Theatre, a Murrayfield branch, plus the 2022 opening, The Tollhouse, which is in the former public loos at Canonmills.
Dine Craiglockhart is on a stretch where there isn’t a lot of competition restaurant-wise, unless you want to walk to Morningside. It also has a slightly different vibe to their other locations, but not as far as the interior goes. They’ve imported their signature vibe, with dark walls, plump velvety chairs and smooth twinkly jazz on the stereo. However, the menu, created by their chef patrons Stuart Muir and Paul Brennan, is a bit more casual, and less spendy, to suit the fact that it’s not slap-bang in the city centre.
There were certainly a lot of burgers coming out of the kitchen when we visited.
We dodged those, and ordered two of their Premium Cocktails - a classic Margarita and a Sci-Fi Martini (both £11 each).
The drinks list included an explanation of how this blend of Tanqueray 10 Gin, Noilly Prat, bergamot bitters and grapefruit oils got its name, and it was something to do with stirring, magnets and it being impressive for Insta. Anyway, that trick must have already happened by the time the ordinary-looking cocktail landed on my table. It tasted good, but, as far as promised theatrics go, it was a sci-fi flop akin to 2010 film Battlefield Earth.
Our starters landed swiftly afterwards. The penguin-pleasing sweet-cured herring (£8) did seem a bit summer-y, but I’m a sucker for a rollmop, and these were satisfyingly vinegary and served along with orange segments, beetroot, fennel shavings, and blobs of very mild horseradish cream.
We also tried the coronation chicken rillette (£8.50), since we’re children of the Seventies, and would probably go for a cheese and pineapple hedgehog parfait, if they’d offered one of those. It was served sandcastle-style, and had a mild garam masala-ish flavour and soft raisins in the mix, plus a peppery rocket pesto and a pair of mahogany-coloured gingerbread melba toasts on the side.
We were happy to have something toasty hot for our main courses.
I thought about sticking the roast confit duck leg (£19) up my jumper, like a hot water bottle, but I don’t think gravy and cashmere mix. This was a satisfying bistro dish, with a generous mound of olive oil and herb crushed potatoes, a few nibs of roast parsnip, and Crayola-sized baby leeks, plus a glossy Madeira jus.
My dining partner had gone for the crispy skinned sea trout (£19.50) and it was equally wholesome, with a disc of melting herb butter on top, and accompaniments of Lyonnaise potatoes and wilted spinach.
The dessert list features all the usual suspects (well, apart from the ubiquitous sticky toffee), including panna cotta, a sundae and a chocolate pot, but we chose the bread and butter pudding (£7.50).
Personally, I think this dessert’s natural partner is custard. In this case, it came with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. After an initial huff, I did come round to this idea, as the ice-cream started to melt, and turned into a sauce for the brick of pudding, which was sprinkled with icing sugar and nibs of candied orange zest.
At least the sugar injection gave these penguins the fortitude to stir our webbed feet and waddle home.
For once, it wasn’t far, and we made it back without a spill, thanks to the NHS tip, though my other half tried to fly at one point and I had to remind him that penguins can’t do that.
Both the rockhopper and gentoo give our new local restaurant an approving honk.