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The Rabbit Hole, Edinburgh, restaurant review

Gaby Soutar goes down Edinburgh's Rabbit Hole and discovers an interesting and enjoyable little eatery.

Published: March 2, 2016

I really hope that one day I get to visit the Rabbithole restaurant in Brooklyn, as I’ve studied its menu forensically.

After Googling, I got it mixed up with this place, which, at the time of writing, has minimal internet presence apart from a Facebook page with the bare bones of information (the address, their New Year’s menu and pics of fishcakes and squid) on it.

"The date riddled sponge came with loads of foxy coloured gloop"

Without info on opening hours, or what we might be eating (apart from fishcakes and squid), my other half and I took a punt and headed to the former premises of popular Marchmont haunt Sweet Melinda’s.

I pushed the door, but it wouldn’t open. The owner looked out at us, confused. I tried again. Still shut.

“Let’s just go,” said my swift-to-turn-huffy other half. I thought maybe if we had a little golden key like Alice did, we could have fallen down (or into) this rabbit hole.

Just before we flounced off, the owner realised he’d accidentally locked it and let us in. Doh. Still, he was chatty and apologetic, taking our coats and woollies and settling us at a table by the radiator to defrost.

They’ve fairly changed the interior since this space’s light, bright and white linen-y Sweet Melinda days. It now boasts cushions with bunnies on them, moody grey walls and a curved bar area for eating and drinking.

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From the bistro-tastic menu, I chose cuttlefish stew (£7), consisting of a slice of toast smothered by pale and salty hake brandade. The upper layer was a dark brown, parsley-scattered, ragu-ish and rich “cuttlefish stew” which seemed to mainly feature mini versions of this cephalopod, with their legs curled back over their heads in a happy baby yoga move.

Pretty good, though, off-puttingly hot in parts and tepid in others.
The russet breadcrumbed spinach and mozzarella risotto croquettes (£6) were pretty standard arancini – a bit bland and under-seasoned, as is the curse of this genre, but better when dunked in the accompanying smoky tomato sauce.

Onto main courses, and the teepee of a lamb shank (£16.50) had been sold to us by the owner as “falling away from the bone”. This made the fact the meat was resolutely clinging onto the bone, like a sloth on a tree trunk, even more glaring. Still, this huge hunk of protein, with a thyme sprig pushed into its marrow cavity, smelled amazing – of butteryness mingled with meaty jus – and we enjoyed the cumin spiced chickpea and lentil stew that came alongside it.

My sliced duck breast (£16) was slightly chewy in parts, but the flavour was great, especially when it came to the caramelised skin and the accompanying dribbles of red wine jus. This offering came with some pearly and slippery orange glazed chicory, crispy fronds of kale, and a single roasted neatly turned potato.

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Puddings, £7 each, are unimaginative or all-winners, depending on your perspective. Choose from lemon sorbet, crème brûlée, chocolate brownie (me) or sticky toffee pudding (him). Boring in theory, but rather lovely in practice. Both of our options came with a blob of ice-cream and the toffee version was a date riddled sponge, with loads of foxy coloured gloop, while my chocolatey sponge had, unsophisticatedly, been hosed down with chocolate fudge sauce. Oh my.

Although the owner was very chatty about his new business, we didn’t tell him about the lack of useful information online. They were playing the theme from The Godfather, and we didn’t want to annoy him too much. Anyway, he did volunteer that some nights it’s been so busy that the windows steam up, and that’s even without a website.

So, visit this place; we can confirm, for those who aren’t Marchmont locals, that it’s definitely open on Tuesdays, because we were there. We also discovered it does fancy sarnies, among other things, at lunch, and there’s a kids food list. Just call me Google.

The Rabbit Hole

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11 Roseneath Street, Edinburgh
(0131-229 7953)

Dinner for two, excluding drinks - £59.50

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.

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