It’s Super Saturday – aka the second busiest shopping day of the year.
There was no chocolate behind my advent calendar door today, just a note that said, “Stay in bed”.
I predict punters scratching each others’ eyes out to get to the last bag of M&S chocolate sprouts, and people desperately trying to find the down escalator in John Lewis.
As someone who recently slid, like a Slinky, down the Waverley Station stairs (maybe THAT’S how you find Platform 9¾), while trying to enter Princes Mall to do some Christmas shopping, I beg you, don’t go.
You’re better sticking to quieter Bruntsfield, where you’ll find boutiques, as well as hairdressers (there’s about 10 – how much hair do people at this side of town have?).
There are also loads of restaurants, though none as fancy as wunderkinds Tom Kitchin and Dominic Jack’s new place, just opposite the garage that delineates the border between Tollcross and Bruntsfield.
Oh, and swiftly glossing over the presence of head chef, Craig McKenzie, who’s come from The Kitchin, I must also mention Tom’s wife Michaela, who has designed the interior. There are ashy wood floors, gold lights like solar systems, walls in a Dark Sky Park blue, and Françoise Hardy on the stereo.
Tres chic, and all the better to show off their rotisserie, which I forgot to look at, since I’m not the type who peers under a car bonnet, but accepts the vehicle will get me from A to B.
The first cocktail on a menu is usually the boring one, but I’m glad I went for the Southside (£11), with Tanqueray No. Ten Gin, fino sherry, lemon, lime, mint gomme, fresh mint and the tasty pond scum that is cucumber foam. As fresh as the mouthwash you’d use after being told off by a Morningside lady for swearing.
For starters, I ordered the thing with quinoa (£12.50), since you never see this ingredient on a fancy menu, except the one at home, when your other half is trying to prolong your life span. It was a huge helping, with smoky shards of Welch’s smoked salmon lining the bottom of the cocotte. This was topped by a health food store worth of stocky transparent quinoa, threaded with tiny vegetable brunoise, and with a perfect soft boiled quail egg.
The West coast shellfish ravioli (£14), should probably have been a raviolo, since this was just the one bit – bloated-ly plump and wrinkled on top, like Phil Mitchell’s head, with shredded shellfish inside, and a fragrant bisque featuring fronds of citrus, courgette and carrot. Oh my.
My main of Borders mallard with orange sauce (£25) was a whole lotta duck. There were two breasts and a pair of caramelised legs, with a meaty jus and three segments of orange. It wasn’t the duck a l’orange that a child of the Seventies might have secretly wanted, but a classy interpretation.
We’d also gone for something from Today’s Specials – Highland lamb shoulder with cinnamon and paprika (£24). It had an edge of crispy fat, with the spices making a subtle appearance in the jus, and a topping of olive oil, tomatoes, shallot hoops, spring onion, parsley and olives.
Anyway, the real heroes were the side dishes. The wagyu potatoes (£4.50) had crusty outers and feathery inners, like a good winter shoe. We also had a set of butter infused fondant potatoes (£4), with roasted garlic to be squeezed and spread onto each stub.
The beets, orange and feta (£5) was gorgeous too, thanks to candy coloured teardrop-shaped baby beetroots alongside milky feta and orange shreds. I was too lazy to go see my pineapple (£8.50) spinning on the rotisserie, like a seven inch single, but it tasted suitably caramelised. Mind you, I could have had a bit more than the single hoop, which was doused in juice and rum, with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream suspended on a tuile diving platform over the liquid filled O.
The smooth chocolate tart (£8.50) was also lush and way better than any chocolate sprout, or even a thousand bags of them, with a milk ice-cream as a foil to the richness.
Anyway, stay away from the centre of town today, because this neighbourhood is where you’ll find a proper super Saturday.
14-17 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh
(0131-342 3333, www.southsidescran.com)