Review: Wildest Drams, Edinburgh

WITH EDINBURGH GEARING up for Festival season, I thought I would pay a visit to a Scottish-themed restaurant on the High Street by the name of Wildest Drams before the madness turns this part of town into a “must avoid” area for locals.

I have watched this restaurant from close proximity since opening last April, supplying them with their cheese when I worked at I.J. Mellis Cheesemongers on Victoria Street.  Their ethos for sourcing top produce doesn’t just end there; the whole menu is teeming with a range of renowned suppliers, from Findlay’s of Portobello and Ardgay Estate venison to a range of over 70 craft beers, and 40 ever-revolving whiskies. Thinking back to my last review, that dedication to sourcing quality produce puts you at ease instantly.

The bar area is moderately busy as we take our seats in the cellar space (there is a proper restaurant upstairs) and dissect the “modern Scottish” menu, where my attention is immediately drawn to the tomato and Irn-Bru soup (£3.50). Yes, that does say Irn-Bru.

We take our time deciding on drinks because of the extensive array on offer, but I can’t not go for the oatmeal stout from the St. Andrews Brewing Co. that just happens to be on special today.  Sublime drink – one of the best stouts I’ve tasted in a long time.

After I’d finished waxing lyrical about the beer, I delved into the soup and was a little relieved that the combo of tomato and our other national drink was a real winner.  Your palette begins with a rich tomatoey hum, then the Irn-Bru subtly canters in with a gentle sweetness that is complimented by a good old crack of seasoning.

Sarah went for a rather delectable smoked mozzarella and sun-blush tomato salad with homemade tarragon and basil pesto (£4.00). Quite a lot going on flavour wise, but all balanced well.  Delicately smoked cheese with the acidic burst from the tomatoes, peppery crunch from the rocket and that classic basil flavour that makes this a jazzed up caprese-style dish suitable for any summer's day lunch.

I’ve become a bit of a chip fiend recently, which is most unlike me, but June has been kind to us on this front, with excellent servings at both Teuchters Landing and The Tailend. Further evidence of quality watch with heritage potatoes on the menu, alongside an 8oz buffalo burger labelled “The Hunter”, which was served in a brioche bun with rocket, tomato and Saison mayo for the sum of £8 (plus £2 for the spuds).  I’ve came to the conclusion that a truly outstanding burger experience is defined by how well the roll holds up during the eating process; this one excelled, mainly because, I suspect,  that the burger patty was rested before serving – that way the grease doesn’t gush out, destroying the bap its wake.  The meat is important too, obviously, and this well-seasoned buffalo patty was moist and delicious, with a wonderfully ripe tomato (how often do you see that in the UK?). That buttery Saison mayo was exceptional, too, but I have to say the star was the homemade tomato sauce on the table.  I suspect that it was more along the lines of an old catsup recipe than the Heinz  variety so prevalent today, given it wasn't as sweet and had layers of spice through it.  In fact, I'm tempted to go back and pinch a bottle. I should add the chips weren’t bad either...

Beef and rye stout sausages (exclusively made by Findlay’s of Portobello) and mash with red onion gravy (£9.50) was Sarah’s choice of main.  Unashamedly rustic in presentation, the sausages were respectfully cooked and tasty, with a silky, butter-rich mash alongside a plentiful supply of sweet gravy.  This simplistic beauty of this British classic relies on the quality of the ingredients, but that’s no issue here.

Wildest Drams Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - ZomatoThe food at Wildest Drams is decent and perfectly commendable.  It’s not trying to be anything it’s not and lets solid cooking compliment the quality of the produce.  It’s easy to be sucked in by the tourist traps around this area, but at least this place offers an honest alternative that will no doubt leave visitors with a far better opinion of Scottish grub than when they arrived, without ripping them off.

Phone: (0131) 226 2289
Address: 209-213 High Street,
                EH1 1PE