With a target of 292 different dishes over 365 days, it’s early days to be playing a restaurant card, but a pre-existing dinner date with friends made this one tricky to avoid. Diverging from the plan early, I was hopeful that the choice of restaurant would pay dividends in the form of inspiration. While it wasn’t my suggestion, The Gardener’s Cottage, Edinburgh where Jay Rayner describes lunch as “one of those experiences that stops the world for a while” seemed like a good bet.
At Effy’s suggestion we started our evening at Spry Wines, Haddington Place. On arrival it was busy, looking like standing room only, but a helpful member of staff directed us to a backroom that provided a cool private room. Much to the vexation of the Italian among us, an Austrian red was ordered (sacré bleu) along with snackage of almonds, anchovies and olives. Delicious!
I’d set out on the train to Edinburgh with the intention of seeking inspiration from The Gardener’s Cottage for the weeks ahead, but if I’m completely honest, (and much to my retrospective delight) I was swept away in the moment. I failed to take a photo of the menu and so can’t recall the names of the dishes or the full range of ingredients. The starter made a star of the humble Jerusalem artichoke and was absolutely delicious. The main was pheasant and equally delectable. The pudding was a wonderful, but I have no idea what it was. (I will ask my compadres).
My evening was terrific, but in truth the food played second fiddle to the company. And it was the early evening anchovies that left the biggest impression. Good sized, plump and meaty they were so good I set out the next morning to find some to make a fishy salad for Saturday’s lunch.