Review: No.11 Brasserie, Brunswick Street, Edinburgh

I REVIEWED NO.11 Brasserie nearly two years ago to the day.  We enjoyed a delicious meal at the restaurant of this boutique hotel, just off the top of Leith Walk on Brunswick Street.  It appears that chef Ariel has since moved on so it would be intriguing to see what’s coming out of the kitchen these days.

On first inspection, the menu looked a little bit old school, with dishes like haggis parcels and duck parfait featuring on the starters section and sticky toffee pudding on the desserts.  Nothing wrong with classic but they have to be exceptional versions.
We were choosing dishes from the three-course seasonal menu which would set you back £27.95 so treated ourselves to a tasty raspberry bellini to aid us with our decisions.

I started with the chilli and coriander fish bites with pea shoots and tartare sauce. I suppose this dish set the tone for what was to come.  The fish balls were crunchy on the outside with a visually appealing interior. There was evidence of skilled knife work judging by the flecks of shallot, red onion and herbs but they were so under seasoned that the effort was just lost.  The tartare sauce was bizarre.  Again, the knife work was there with the veg elements, but it was like they were dressed in the watery stuff you drain off the top of a tub of yoghurt.  Not pleasant. Why go to the effort of finely chopping things then ruin them by not tasting and being sloppy?

Sarah ordered the vegetarian haggis and beetroot parcels with Glayva, chilli and beetroot puree. Slightly on the rustic side presentation wise, the filo parcels weren’t as crisp as you’d have hoped for but the filling was earthy and pleasing enough.  The puree was kind of jam-like but offered a fine balance of chilli heat, sweetness and the taste of beetroot that I adore.  Again, this dish just wasn’t sufficiently seasoned.

Pork belly is my favourite meat and I always order it when it’s on the menu.  This one was billed as crispy belly with spring onion mash, fondant carrots and cider jus. Firstly, it was obvious that the skin wasn’t crispy as billed.  It was soggy and disgusting and needed to be crisped up in a hot pan or roasted in the oven – surely any chef can see that before sending it out?  This is my pet hate given my love for this ingredient.  The meat underneath was glorious and had a pleasing note of star anise that works so well with this cut. The fondant carrots still had a little bite but were deliciously buttery.  The mash was verging on the dense side and needed seasoning but was okay overall.  I had expected the cider jus to provide a sharp contrast to the sweet components and the richness of the dish but it tasted of very little.

Fillet of sea bass with red pepper gnocchi, spinach and mozzarella was Sarah’s choice of main and her initial reaction wasn’t great, as the fillet of bass was a meagre one to say the least. On top of that, it the skin was flabby and overcooked.  The gnocchi was tasty with a hint of red pepper to it but the whole thing needed a serious injection of salt and pepper.

Despite being a throwback to the '80s, sticky toffee pudding can be a glorious thing. This one didn’t quite cut it.  The sponge was fine but lacked flavour, though the sauce was tasty.  The ice cream had crystallised so wasn’t nice to eat.  Maybe jazzing it up with a bit of salt caramel would have made it a bit more interesting, but otherwise it was forgettable.

Now, Sarah’s dessert was a real embarrassment. She ordered cranachan, which, let’s face it, isn’t the most difficult of puddings to make. This one was essentially a tower of whipped cream with some mushed up berries through it.  No sign of whisky as per a traditional cranachan, although there was a sprinkling of oats over the slate board.  There was a chocolate spoon present to add some "theatre” but it didn’t need to be there.  Not impressed.

Dinner didn’t quite live up to the heights of last time, which was obviously disappointing.  This seasonal menu is designed to offer value, but I’d suggest you could find a more modern, better executed one elsewhere. Ultimately, I think the errors here were just down to the chef not paying attention to detail and being a bit lazy. What a pity.

Address: No. 11, 11 Brunswick Street, Edinburgh, EH7 5JB
Phone: (0131) 557 6910

Brasserie - No. 11 Boutique Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato