Review: Edinburgh Larder Bistro

WITH MY STUDIES having taken priority over blog writing in the past few months, I was very much looking forward to kick starting Phil’s Food World again, and now exams are over and essays have been completed, I can begin with a much-anticipated review of the Edinburgh Larder Bistro.

The restaurant is nestled away down stairs between Alva Street and Queensferry Street in Edinburgh’s rather quaint West End, and I had previously heard positive things from fellow food writer Theresa Baumgartner, who outlined the owner’s passion for the place after visiting from Luxembourg during last year’s Edinburgh Festival.

You can tell just by looking at the Edinburgh Larder’s website that this is an operation run with passion; their list of suppliers not only suggests quality but, also that provenance of ingredients is at the forefront when crafting their menus.

My brother Chris and I received a very warm welcome on this chilly Edinburgh afternoon and the smell of fresh bread certainly enhanced that greeting. The Edinbugh Larder actually includes an artisan bakery, which is a great addition to the restaurant and Edinburgh’s food scene alike. 

The dining room had a calm feel to it, largely down to the contrasts of light, which I really liked.  It was modern but still had a traditional feel to it, with a certain intimacy to your own little area of the restaurant. It was certainly encouraging to see the dining room pretty much full on a Tuesday. 

The bistro offers a two-course lunch menu priced competitively at £12, and I started with hot smoked haddock pate on toast with foraged salad.  Clearly homemade, the pate was sufficiently smoky and a hint of herbs with a buttery note  to it made it rather enjoyable, plus it was seasoned to perfection.  The toast, like the bread we enjoyed beforehand, came from the in-house bakery; it’s these little details that present restaurants the opportunity to show skills that enhance the eating experience – certainly does so in this instance.

Chris chose to skip starter in favour of a pudding, so began with rump of lamb, Dunsyre Blue potato cake with wild garlic for main.  I had secretly wanted to order that particular dish and that disappointment was further compounded when it came beautifully presented to the table.   The pink tinge of the lamb showed some skill in the cooking, and gave respect to a quality piece of produce.  The dauphinoise-style potato cake was rich and didn’t overpower the dish, which can be difficult to achieve with blue cheese.  The carrots still had a little crunch, which added a different texture to the dish, while earthiness of the sauces really brought this well-rounded dish together.  A generous portion for a lunch time menu, the dish really allowed quality ingredients to speak for themselves.

I ordered baked Cullen skink with seasonal veg, which came with a big pastry crust that I duly broke into, releasing the wonderful aroma of smoked fish.  The pastry casing was crunchy and cooked all the way through, while the soup was rich, creamy and well-seasoned.  The fish was wonderfully flaky and not turned to rubber unlike some versions of this Scottish classic I’ve had to endure.  Little potato cubes brought a welcome crunchy element to the dish and the accompanying broccoli and carrots were cooked to perfection.  My hankering for the lamb dish had since dissipated.

To indulge his sweet tooth, Chris went for Russet apple crumble with thyme custard.  He described the dish as ‘a common dish elevated to a fine-dining level.’  The apples still had bite to them and the sharpness cut through the sweetness of the custard to balance the dish well. There wasn’t a great deal of thyme flavour in the custard, but that didn’t really detract from this rather satisfying dessert.  Service had been efficient throughout; friendly, knowledgeable and extremely professional, which for me is just as important as the food.

The ethos and set up of this restaurant definitely deserves to be commended.  It’s one thing using top produce but another knowing what to do with it, and the team at the Edinburgh Larder certainly know what they’re doing.  With an intimate dining space and superb value for money, this little gem is worth a visit.

1a Alva Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4PH.
Bistro – Open 11am – 10pm (pre-theatre: 5.30pm – 6.30pm) Tuesday -Saturday. Closed Sundays & Mondays. 0131 225 4599

Bakery at the bistro – Open 11am-5pm Tuesday-Saturday
Edinburgh Larder Bistro on Urbanspoon
Pictures by Chris Cook


  1. Ooh, haven't tried the Bistro! Only sampled the Larder on Blackfriars St, which I really liked. Must give this one a go sometime :)


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