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.
Ambiance
9/10
Food
9/10
Total
0%
March 2, 2024

Lyla, Edinburgh, review - a beautiful seafood focused experience that's worth dressing up for

This Royal Terrace destination offers tasting menus

I’m like a newsreader, in that nobody ever sees my legs.

It takes a lot for me to get into a frock these days, but I got those dusty pegs out, just for Lyla.

Owned by the team behind a couple of Edinburgh’s best food destinations, AizleTipo and Noto, I knew this seafood-focused 28-cover venue was going to be something special.

It’s on the ground floor of what was the late and much lauded chef Paul Kitching’s restaurant with rooms, 21212.

His spirit remains, in the photographs on the walls in reception, the signature decor, and the fact that his partner Katie O’Brien has kept on the hotel side of the business, so you can still stay over in one of their four lovely boudoirs.

Apparently, if you’re visiting for Lyla’s evening sitting, which consists of a 10-course tasting menu (£165pp), you’re taken up to the first floor drawing room to indulge in a Champagne trolley service. However, we were taking advantage of the £65pp five-course lunch, available Fridays and Saturdays only, so we were led straight through to the dining room. This is a vision in expensive-looking neutrals, including a light fitting that resembles a string of pearls. There’s an open kitchen, so we could see chef patron Stuart Ralston doing his thing.

As we weren’t upgrading to the matching wine pairing (add £45, or £25 for soft), we did cocktails instead. I ordered the sweet and sour Smoked Redcurrant Clover Club (£16), with Pickering’s Gin, Cocchi Rosa and redcurrant, and he went for the Tommy’s (£18), which featured Neta Espadin Mezcal, Tapatio Blanco Tequila and agave.

Then the snacks came out, looking arty on their plinths.

“They’re one mouthful jobs, to avoid carnage,” said our server.

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Despite this, my husband tried to do the lobster option in two chomps, and half the orange roe bounced across the linen tablecloth. I ate mine neatly, and it was gorgeous, with a crispy shell, kohlrabi, sake and a touch of lemon oil.

Our other ‘snack’ was an upmarket take on a cheese sannie, with Alp blossom fromage in the center of two wafers and the top dusted by meadow flower petals. There was onion and quince chutney in the mix, for a sweet tangy-ness.

However, the piece-de-resistance was the laminated brioche. These neat bronzed cylinders were SO decadent, and came with Ampersand butter and some of their koji cultured butter with caperberries. After we’d dispatched those, they gave us hot hand towels to blot our buttery paws.

A succession of lovely things were still to come. It was like an album of greatest hits.

The cured brill was almost too pretty to eat, served on a dimple dish, with radish petals and stamens of Exmoor caviar, plus a cucumber, apple and jalapeno water. This was followed by a piece of Anstruther turbot, which had been poached in butter and served with beurre blanc, macerated mussels, plus tiny discs of pickled pumpkin and artichoke on top.

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That was the final fishy course, so we cried salty tears. For the main course, we were asked to ‘choose our weapon’, from a selection of serrated knives. I went for something suitable for a baddie, and he chose the hero’s white-handled blade.

That might suggest you’ll be doing some heavy-duty sawing but, no, the quail was dreamily soft, with a layer of truffle butter under the skin. It came with a tiny tart blob of Madeira jam, radicchio and a sliver of liver, plus a rich mushroom jus. On the side was a mushie tart, piled high with a potato thatch and micro herbs.

The penultimate course is a palate cleanser of red pepper parfait, plus Yorkshire rhubarb and a drift of goat’s milk snow, all served in a pretty glass sundae bowl.

After this, there was a chocolate dessert, and the pastry chef came out to expertly rocher the salted milk ice-cream. It was scooped onto a pile of umami crumbs, alongside other pretty things, like a little cigarillo stuffed with Cointreau cream, kumquat and a chocolate delice with a layer of barley koji custard and chicory root.

The coda of the lunchtime experience was a pair of praline bon-bons, decorated with a pattern that looked like distant galaxies, and two coffee choux craquelins. My gosh.

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I’m not always a fan of tasting menus, but this flowed beautifully. Perhaps I should return for the full 10 courses.

The frock might be getting a rare second outing.

3 Royal Terrace, Edinburgh, UK
3 Royal Terrace, Edinburgh, UK, EH7 5DX
0131 285 8808
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.
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.
Ambiance
9/10
Drinks
9/10
Food
9/10
Service
10/10
Value
9/10
Total
0%
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