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
8.8/10
Food
8.5/10
Total
0%
May 16, 2024

Under the Table, Edinburgh, restaurant review - Marvel film director, Joe Russo, has backed a winner

This venue is a New Town treat

Under the table isn’t ever pleasant.

It’s where used chewing-gum is stuck, dodgy dealings are struck, people play footsie, crumbs fall and tiny children hide.

Under The Table. Well, that’s a different matter. This place is literally the basement level neighbour and sister business to nine-year-old Dundas Street chef’s table tasting menu concept, The Table.

It’s been opened by head chef Sean Clark and business partner, Paul O’Donoghue, to bring a ‘modern European bistro’ to the New Town.

Their investor and supporter, surreally enough, is Marvel and Captain America director and producer, Joe Russo, who is a huge fan of the upstairs venue.

I wonder if any of the people eating lunch on our visit are followers of his blockbusters. Not obviously so. The place is stowed out with a smart crew. 

We’re enjoying the buzzy vibe, along with the decor, which is like the front room of someone who can afford an interior designer.

The menu features plenty of temptation. My eyes grow wider with every line.

In the end, I go for rabbit fritters with courgette (£8). I was braced for something quite sturdy, but this starter is more sexy Cadbury’s Caramel bunny than Peter. There are five tiny pale nibs of meat, in popcorn-hued cocoons of batter, all surrounding a pile of citrussy courgette ribbons.

It’s beautiful, though fleeting. 

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My dining partner has gone for the crab (£13), which is also rather lovely. There’s a quenelle of seafood in a tangy pink sauce, with a black and biscuity tuille on top. The plate also features some crystalline grapefruit gel, with a few elderflowers stuck to it, like decoupage.

Next, I’m onto the braised beef cheek (£20).

The meat, which was topped by a fried shallot halo, had been coaxed to its ultimate bovine intensity, so it felt like being stared out by a bull, and the connective tissue was rendered down to feathery collagen. Gorgeous, especially with the addition of a sauce-like whipped coffee polenta, which was velvety and light, with just a very distant tickle of the caffeinated bean.

We’re also in raptures over the cod (£21), though it was described as coming with chanterelles and these look like maitake. Still, life is too short to quibble over mushrooms. The cod is beautifully cooked, and draped in a cream sauce that’s sprinkled with caviar, like a billionaire’s take on hundreds and thousands.

When ordering, we asked if we needed sides, and the server said; “Maybe something green”. Thus, we’d gone for the spinach, butter, raisins and pine nuts (£6.50) - pleasant enough. However, if there’s going to be one criticism about this fabulous place, it’s the portion sizes.

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I get that there is re-calibrating required, when going from fine-dining to bistro.

But, diners, ignore what you’re told and go for pomme frites (£4), Company bakery bread and butter (£4) or the pomme puree Robuchon (£4.50), which, like my veins, runs with 50 per cent butter.

Not doing so was our only regret.

I thought we might have another. Against my instincts, we went for the most horrible-sounding pudding.

They offer Gallic crowd-pleasers including tarte tatin with vanilla ice-cream (£9) or iles flottantes (£7), but I was intrigued by the chocolate and maple syrup ganache with sweet potato (£12, for two people), despite the fact that there’s nothing less appealing to me than a dessert containing that root vegetable. Still, I had a feeling that this US-style pud might have been something to do with Joe Russo.

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My icky reservations were dispatched, Thor-style. You almost wouldn’t have noticed this veg, though it was present in the sugar-dusted beignets. There was also a beautiful brick of dark sea-salted ganache, with an orange heart, and two dollops of lush peanut ice-cream. I kept hoping that his scoop would melt and cross over the dividing line, so I could steal it, like a checkmated rook.

This is a wonderful place. The drinks are excellent too, with cocktails, including our classic pisco sour (£11) and gin Collins (£11) with Arbikie Gin, lemon, gooseberry and black pepper.

Surely it’s the best thing you could ever find under a Table.

3a Dundas Street, Edinburgh, UK
3a Dundas Street, Edinburgh, UK, EH3 6QG
0131 281 1689
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
8.8/10
Drinks
8.5/10
Food
8.5/10
Service
7.5/10
Value
8.5/10
Total
0%
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