Review: A Room In Leith, Edinburgh

A Room In Leith moved across to the old Skippers Bistro building around a year ago. In fact, the last time I visited was on opening night. The paint was barely dry and staff were scrambling around in a semi-organised, chaotic fashion.  Serving ‘homely Scottish cooking’ I was particularly excited to dig into the array of Scottish seafood on offer.

Owners John and Peter are long established restaurateurs in Edinburgh. With pubs like Teuchters and Teuchters Landing on their roster, alongside the A Room In… concept, the pair proudly stock a famously extensive range of the finest beers and spirits available in the city. Located down on The Shore, the area itself offers a plethora of diverse dining spots; however, you only have to look at the recently closed Fatma’s to know competition is rife here.

To begin with, I ordered the Borders steak tartare with raw organic Dave Stoddart egg dressing (£8.50).  First impressions were positive as I admired the modern take on this French classic.  The beef was of obvious quality as I took my first mouthful, with the crunch of the croutons really making the dish.  All the components of a traditional tartare were there in some shape or form: sharp capers, the crunch and sweetness from the shallots, rich eggy goodness, diced gherkins, and the addition of the baby mint leaves that I particularly enjoyed.  Good start.

My girlfriend Sarah had been excited about the Loch Dunvegan langoustines with garlic butter (£12.50) since I showed her the menu last week, and thankfully, they did not disappoint.  Beautifully cooked, melt in the mouth morsels were met with a rich, garlicky butter in this simple, no nonsense starter that just lets the ingredient do the talking – the style of cooking I like.

The waitresses were very attentive and chirpy all evening and you could tell they were proud of their work when they received praise from a group of American tourists.

With starters devoured, mains were swiftly dispatched from the kitchen, with me opting for the grilled fillet of smoked Scrabster hake with Shetland king scallops, stir-fried samphire, chargrilled new potatoes with caper and cucumber salsa and a lemon mayo (£17).  The faint hint of smoke from the fish was masterful, and the execution equal to it. The combination of the salsa and samphire brought a salty, zingy, freshness that balanced perfectly with the smoky fish and brought texture to the plate.  Textbook cooking of the scallops would suggest a bit more caramelisation was required, but I like them cooked this way, and they were none the less delicious when mopped up with the lemon mayo. Great plate of food overall, although a bit of salt and pepper would have enhanced it further.

Our server next presented Sarah pan-friend monkfish medallions with Parma Ham and rosemary mash, confit shallots and garden pea veloute, priced at £18. Superb cooking of the fish yet again - the flavours were spot on.  The fresh, vibrant pea veloute was top drawer, but the dish cried out for a bit of crunch.

It always annoys me when you need to order a side to complete a dish and are charged three of four quid for a few measly pieces of whatever, so it was refreshing to see side orders for just £1.  We split the broccoli and sugar snaps option, both perfectly cooked and delicious, although perhaps not needed given the generosity of the portions.

Strawberry season is thankfully upon us, and A Room in Leith utilised the fruit in the form of iced Perthshire strawberry and ginger parfait with honeycomb and lime syrup (£5). I love the combo of strawberry (or raspberry) with ginger.  The warm, spice just works so well with the fresh fruit, and the cold parfait just cools it down, completing each mouthful.  The honeycomb was decent and gave both snap and sweetness, rounding off a great meal for me.

Unfortunately, Sarah’s dessert didn’t quite live up to mine.  She reports that the huge slab of banoffee pie (£5) was nice enough, but too creamy and the bananas were a little firm. However, the base was thin and tasty.

We left very impressed by A Room in Leith, I must say: The cooking was of an excellent standard throughout.  I also admire the way the menu proudly boasts the provenance of their ingredients, the subtext almost stating: “This is Scottish food given love and care – you’ll enjoy it”. A little more than homely Scottish fayre I’d suggest.

We drank a lovely Pinot Noir by Baron Philippe De Rothchild, 2012 (£19).

Open 7 days
Lunch: 12-2.30 (Mon-Fri)
           12-3.30 (Sat and Sun)
Dinner: 5.30-9.45

Phone: 0131 225 2973

1a and 1c Dock Place,
Leith, Edinburgh,

a room in Leith and Teuchters Bar on Urbanspoon