We don’t do date nights in my house.
However, if we did, Patron Saint would be the ideal destination. That’s because it was the location of our first romantic rendezvous, way back in 2002.
The same auspicious year that I started work at The Scotsman.
Back in the Noughties, this place was The Belfry. We sat on a couch. He had a bottled beer and I had a gin and tonic. It was awks.
Over two decades later, we’re as wrinkled as balloons in a hot room, but we’re still together, so our patron saint must be Valentine. There. That’s all the cheesy patter you’re getting from me.
This Bruntsfield property still exists as a pub, but they’ve had a major makeover.
It’s now owned by Lucky Number Seven Holdings - the people behind west-end bar, The Cocktail Mafia, and The Raging Bull on Lothian Road. The new place’s decor is maximalist, with walls that are Vermeer-ish shades, stools that look like daisies and a ceiling that’s decorated by bright watercolour splotches.
Unlike the other venues, there’s more of a focus on food.
In fact, there’s an awful lot of grub, from cheese and charcuterie sharing platters, to pinsa, small plates and large ones, which include burgers and risotto. There are 25 savoury offerings in total.
Feeling overwhelmed, we went for the deal of five small plates for £48 (or four for £35, three for £28).
These are presented on a long wooden sharing board, so you can nibble from either end, like Lady and the Tramp on a piece of spaghetti.
At my Tramp side, there was the stuffed rolled lamb, with a large wedge of lemon on top. He’s not a fan of sheepy meats, so this protein spiral was all mine, though that wasn’t much of a coup. It came with soft yellow peppers and capers, but there wasn’t much evidence of the apricot and mint that were billed on the list. It was definitely lacking in something.
Up at Lady’s end of the plank was a slice of their raised game pie. I took a huge Desperate Dan mouthful of the mauve meaty filling, then wished that I could rewind. It was so desiccated that this felt like chomping into a piece of Victorian taxidermy.
I regurgitated it into a napkin and was very grateful that this wasn’t our first date.
Its accompanying ‘mustard and dill potato salad’ was a mixture of uniform tattie cubes in a glutinous mayo, and we also had a small triangle of cheddar and a large pot of chutney.
The best thing on the board was our palm-sized salmon, cod and coconut fishcake, with a hit of chilli and lemongrass. It had a thick crumb and came with a large dollop of caper mayo. Still, £48 divided by five is £9.60. That’s way too much for a dinky fishcake.
Their pair of tobiko-topped trout rillette-ish crostini, though not served on the promised rye bread, weren’t bad, though I don’t know what the listed ‘mustard frills’ were supposed to be. Maybe they’re like cheap thrills, but hotter and yellower.
The final member of our quintet, who were shaping up to be less of a supergroup and more like the Backstreet Boys, were beef shin croquettes. These were reasonably tasty, though you wouldn’t know that they had beef inside. They came with a smudge of squash puree and another of date and tamarind chutney. The gremolata was AWOL.
We also had one side - the fries with a twist (£6.50), aka three HB length halloumi sticks and two claggy battered courgette flowers.
At least the pudding of grandma’s cake (£6.50) wasn’t bad. It was a squishy slice, with ‘lemon scented custard’, pine nuts, honey and a thick talcum powdering of icing sugar. Maybe granny should take over all the cooking.
Throughout the meal, we had a couple of excellent cocktails.
There was a Mango Firecracker (£11), with Mezcal Union, Aperol, jalapeno, mango, lime and grapefruit bitters, and a Chocolate Treat (£10), in lieu of a second dessert. It contained 42 Below Vodka, Mozart Dark Chocolate, Creme de Menthe, espresso, gomme and dark chocolate, with three coffee beans suspended on its fluffy topping.
That was consolation, since this isn’t going to be an anniversary destination.
Even if we go back, it’ll be for drinks only.