Located to the north of Edinburgh city centre, Stockbridge is home to some of the finest independent businesses, acclaimed gastropubs, cycling cafes serving their own coffee roasts, and an eclectic array of record, clothing and book shops. It’s an area of character, one that you would take visitors to for a feel of real life in the city. Housing some of Edinburgh’s best places to eat, it is a competitive place to run a restaurant.
The Stockbridge Restaurant has a reputation as a noted local eatery, and its loyal customers enjoy the cosy intimacy and welcoming atmosphere of a family run restaurant with an award winning chef at the helm. As a member of the Slow Food Alliance, The Stockbridge Restaurant prides itself on its commitment to local, seasonal and fresh produce, and this is largely reflected in the menu of a restaurant that’s been operating for over a decade.
Our visit began with an appetizer of parma ham, spring onions and mozzarella, which was served alongside black olive bread, and a lively chive and chervil dip. A bright start as we made our selections from the menu.
As an entrée, I chose a favourite of mine. The scallops served in Scottish restaurants eclipse any I’ve had elsewhere and head chef Jason Gallagher’s commitment to local produce shone throughout this dish; seared, with a butternut squash puree, apple salsa, walnuts and (likely from further afield, though perfectly complementary) serrano ham.
My companion’s starter of braised ox cheeks with horseradish creamed potato and Bourguignonne sauce. This was expertly slow cooked and melt in the mouth, the perfect balance of rich and creamy, with vast red onion rings providing a light, crispy and subtly tangy topping. It was so good she would have been happy with this as a hearty main course.
She took the smart decision of following this starter with one of the lighter mains. Grilled halibut, served perfectly cooked and accompanied by a quail’s egg, crispy pancetta, crushed potatoes, spinach, girolle mushrooms and an Arran mustard sauce.
I opted for the duck main course. A deliciously warming winter dish which showcased the skills of the chef through a medley of contrasting elements. The mallard duck breast was rich and succulent, and a confit duck leg was both tender inside and perfectly crisp and golden on the outside. The inspiring elements of the dish came in the form of a foie gras cromesquis, a croquette-esque ball of foie gras in breadcrumbs, which burst with flavour as my fork broke into it, and a duck sausage roll with crispy golden pastry and a deeply flavoursome filling. A potato terrine, savoy cabbage and light jus completed this altogether satisfying dish, which was perfectly complemented by the wine.
Our waitress recommended a bottle of Chilean Pinot Noir, an elegant and rich Porta Reserva with flavours of summer berries. The kind of wine you would be happy to drink by itself, brought to life alongside dishes like the rich duck and meaty halibut.
We rejoiced upon the arrival of the palate cleanser, a delicate bowl of passionfruit sorbet. As a rule I love sour and bitter flavours but both my dining companion and I found the sorbet to be achingly tart. A little more sweetness would have soothed as well as cleansed our palates.
The sweetness certainly arrived in the form of the desert I opted for. A chocolate brulee with chocolate brownie, white chocolate mousse and milk chocolate ice cream. This dish was more than the sum of its parts, and each part of it was so delicious I was left fighting off the spoon from across the table.
My partner’s banana tart tatin, with butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream, was eagerly awaited as she animatedly discussed the merits of using banana over apple in this classic dish – a crisp caramelized exterior giving way to a soft, sweet interior. What arrived were steeples of unripe banana, sparsely doused in sugar and sadly basketed in underbaked pastry. The accompanying sauce was the only saving grace, which nicely complemented the vanilla ice cream.
Overall, I’d have to say the visit was an enjoyable one, and in parts the food was excellent. One look at the TripAdvisor page of The Stockbridge Restaurant is testament to its reputation as a quality local eatery, providing a balance between fine dining and a relaxed intimate atmosphere. However, with so much to choose from in the area, and across Edinburgh, I would be tempted to encourage diners to explore more of the options that are out there, unless this lovely family run restaurant can up its game and stand out from the crowd in one of the most competitive areas of the city.
The Stockbridge Restaurant can be found at 54 Saint Stephen Street, Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh EH3 5AL