The food at Edinburgh's new Whiskers is okay, but it's not one of our favourite things, says Gaby Soutar

You can find raindrops on roses at the florist at number 30.

There are probably tea-bags for your bright copper kettles at Scotmid and warm woollen mittens in one of the many charity shops. If you want brown paper packages tied up with string, you’ll find them at the Post Office.

There are many of Julie Andrews’ favourite things on Raeburn Place, and now there are whiskers (minus the kittens, though it is dog friendly), thanks to this new wine cafe.

It was formerly French restaurant and deli Henri – an institution, which popped off quite suddenly. Their familiar pale blue livery has disappeared and the new owners, one of whom has cheffing experience at Edinburgh’s Chop House and Greywalls in East Lothian, among other places, have gone for something a lot darker, with slightly less obvious kerb appeal.

Though it looks like it might be empty from the outside, on our weekday lunchtime visit, it was surprisingly busy. We were given the Day Menu (served 9am-5pm), which featured lots of breakfasty things, salads and sarnies, as well as the Food Menu (noon-10pm), with sharing platters and small plates.

The three of us went for seven to share, though that was probably one or two too many. Like a bushbaby, my eyes really are bigger than my stomach. We were pretty unanimous on the winners and losers.

Our favourite was probably the pâté and terrine sharing plate (£8) – a meaty showcase that came with a lushly smooth putty-coloured chicken liver parfait. We also enjoyed the gamey terrine, with chunky strata of compressed venison, hare and pigeon breast.

The final pâté was a pale, rough and rustic under-seasoned number that was supposed to be confit duck and orange terrine, though you’d need a DNA testing kit to know for sure. We couldn’t taste a lot. On the side were three small ovals of toasted brioche (more please) and a dollop of mustard-y piccalilli.

Also good was the broccoli (£7), with a purple sprouting version in a sweet and balsamic-y miso and soy dressing, along with shiitake mushrooms, toasted almond flakes, and halved roasted shallots.

Things got a bit iffy with our second cruciferous salad. The cauliflower (£7) featured five chunks – roasted, but barely, and dyed turmeric orange. This spice was the only flavour, apart from that provided by pomegranate seeds, onion seeds and baby spinach.

Our set of salt baked baby potatoes (£4.50) was nice enough, with their white tinged skins, like trouser hems when you’ve been paddling in the sea. They were topped with some pulpy red pepper sauce and chopped parsley. We’d also gone for some nibbly nuts (£3.25) – pecans, cashews, almonds and macadamias – which turned out to be coated by an “in house seasoning” of moreish though maybe too subtle cumin-y dust.

Our most neglected plate was the sausage option (£5.50), which was like an ascetic student-y stew, with cannellini, butter and kidney beans alongside halved cherry tomatoes, white onion and a few discs of nduja.

The sea trout (£7.50) was a bit more ambitious. It featured two small blocks of cured fish, each garnished with a tiny nori bindi and served with creamy pulped avocado and a few cubes of “gin cucumber”, which was pleasantly fresh despite tasting teetotal. Sadly, this dish was garnished with two sails of fish skin, which were as inedible and plasticky as plectrums.

Although the savoury options were a bit so-so, puddings were dreamy. Their wad of warm banana sponge (£5) was slopped with a bucket of toffee sauce, and there was a fat scoop of clotted cream on the side. Our other pick, the white chocolate and vanilla panna cotta (£4) was as pale and sweet as a silver white winter (that melts into spring), with soft bits of rhubarb and its juice on the side.

These desserts made for some funky freestyle percussion muzak, created by the competitive clanking of spoons against plates. So, though the food at Whiskers falls slightly flat in parts, they went out on a high.
Almost as good as cream coloured ponies and crisp apple strudels, but not quite. n

Whiskers Edinburgh

48 Raeburn Place, Edinburgh

(0131-343 3681, www.whiskerswinecafe.co.uk)

Whiskers, Edinburgh, restaurant review
Food70%
Ambience70%
70%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (10 Votes)
25%

About The Author

Gaby Soutar

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.

Let us know what you think

comments