Asking the public to name anything never usually goes well.
Spare a thought for the whale, Mr Splashy Pants, christened after a Greenpeace poll. There’s the polar research submarine Boaty McBoatface, as well as Kraft’s temporary Noughties rebranding of Vegemite as iSnack 2.0.
Anyway, this 17-year-old restaurant, whose original owners recently retired, has been taken over by a couple with experience at various Edinburgh eateries, including Cafe St Honore, The Atrium and Fishers.
They’re making gradual changes, which have so far included getting shot of the retro neon blue and pink sign, freshening up the interior with details including colourful cushions, and, despite evidence that it often ends in disaster, there’s a naming competition on Facebook.
Enter. Go crazy. (Please nothing naff and golf related, even though it’s just beside Bruntsfield Links’ putting green).
Although the menu used to feature mainly Americana style steaks and burgers, now there’s a simplified and homely bistro slant. There was much nervous excitement on our visit (one of the very nice owners is an oversharer, so we didn’t have to ask any questions) because they had their first private dining group. They’d taken up the large table downstairs, which made for almost a full house on a Thursday evening.
From a choice that also included mussels, soup or a platter of charcuterie from East Coast Cured, we tried the chicken liver pate (£6.95) and vegetable pakora (£5.95).
Unfortunately, I didn’t notice that they’d forgotten to add the “homemade ale chutney” before I’d already Dyson-ed up the smooth and garlicky salmon pink pate, which came with three insole-sized pieces of crispy toast and a lightly olive oil dressed salad of baby gem, radish and beetroot wedges. Never mind, it was nice enough without it.
Our pakora option didn’t appear to feature a single sievert of heat, but the soft interior, with a protective thatch of crispy onions round the outside, made up for that. We also liked its accompaniments of yogurt-dressed shredded lettuce and sunflower seed salad, and the clean-tasting cucumber and mint raita.
Reminiscent of ale-chutney-gate, something else had gone AWOL when it came to my main course of whole charred seabass (£13.95). Again, with my robust appetite, I just sucked it up, all the time thinking there was an absence. Half way through, I checked the menu and there it was - crispy pancetta. Darn it. Still, at least it felt virtuous to have a good slab of lemon-baptised fish with dice-sized chunks of watermelon, a couple of potato wedges and strands of watercress. Still, pancetta. I blame the private diners for creating a distraction.
Because of the unexpected wedges, I didn’t really need to order chips (£3), but I’m glad I did, as they were hot and bronzed, like they’d been lying on individual sun-loungers. We also liked our other side of sweet onion rings (£3.50), with their dark pakora batter.
From The Grill section, where, amongst other things, there’s also fillet (£24.95) and rump (£14.95), our ribeye steak (£18.95) was a seared-on-the-outside and yieldingly pink inside slab of well-rested juicy-ness, with a little blob of garlic butter (£1.75) in the middle, like a melting yolk. It came with more frites and, to make all the naughtiness okay, a titchy little token salad, which resembled the nest of a stunted hummingbird.
The puddings, chalked up on the board, took a while to arrive, probably because of them pests downstairs.
Our lemon tart (£4.95) had a biscuity case filled with a loose, tart and curdy filling, with a side of strawberries in an elderflower-perfumed syrup, while, the light, moussey and not-too-sweet flourless chocolate cake (£4.95) was blobbed with creme fraiche, almonds and orange zest.
Very pleasant food, and I’m sure it would’ve been better if there hadn’t been an unexpectedly full house.
Anyway, Eaty McFoodface says go visit Katie’s, before the public name it something awful.