Fresh, Local, Sustainable…
The Gardener’s Cottage is an Edinburgh gem. The ever-changing menu and the finest, fresh ingredients ensure a high class meal
Review by Charlie Fletcher, Photography by Gavin Craigie
The Gardener’s Cottage prides itself on sourcing local, fresh and sustainable produce. This is evident before you even reach the front door thanks to the dramatically colourful herb garden outside. Upon entering, I was greeted by ‘Let’s Dance’ playing from a record player that is – along with the large record collection – the focal point of the room. After being seated on one of the two long communal tables, the waiting staff proceed to question diners on any special dietary requirements or preferences. Aside from any deviations agreed upon, the dinner meal is a set seven-course menu that changes daily.
The first course was served shortly after ordering drinks. I was presented with a freshly baked sourdough with a yoghurt dip flavoured with herbs grown outside the Cottage. The sourdough was excellently baked, not surprising after the Chef’s time at the award winning Falko Konditormeister bakery. Alongside the bread, a piece of pine-cured trout with rhubarb mayo and a small chunk of roasted carrot were served. The flavour of the pine was evident in the trout and was very well received. The roasted carrot had a soft texture and provided welcome warmth to the course.
Shortly after finishing my first course, the plates were whisked away to make way for a barbecued asparagus served with homemade pancetta and a poached quail’s egg rubbed in burnt leek ash. The quail’s egg was poached delightfully, with a soft yolk that added a dynamic colour to the plate. The burnt leek ash conveyed a gentle flavour of leek while adding a bitter smokiness without overpowering the delicate quail’s egg. The asparagus enjoyed a fresh softness to it (it was cut with a butter knife). The homemade pancetta was enjoyable on its own but the flavour was almost lost alongside the asparagus. This course was light, refreshing and very enjoyable.
The third dish was described as a barbecue rabbit loin and leg in a romero pepper parcel alongside smoked tomatoes and mushrooms. The rabbit was succulently cooked just past pink that I relished. The salty, smoky flavour of the peppers was delightful when paired with the mushrooms. I really enjoyed this dish. The flavours were simple enough but the quality of the produce and the skill of the preparation made this dish excel.
The ensuing fish course was served comprising of pan-fried cod, clams and a wild garlic agnolotti. The dish was finished with a dramatic and exuberant foam garnish. The cod fillet was a hearty portion and the skin was wonderfully crisp. The clams were somewhat hidden in the pasta but their taste was evident. The foam finish provided a wonderful airy texture and resulted in an enticing pas de deux with the cod. The hand rolled agnolotti gave balance to the dish with its sweet peppery flavour.
A palate cleanser was subsequently served. This consisted of a cucumber sorbet, sweet cicely ice cream and a beautifully delicate almond twirl. I was surprised by the intense, rich flavour of the cucumber sorbet. The essence of fresh cucumber was captured and conveyed brilliantly. The ice cream had a deep, sweet vanilla taste that paired well with the cucumber.
A trio of British cheeses followed. The Lanark made Corra Linn cheese was hard and nutty and enjoyed on a cracker. The English representative was a Stawley goat’s cheese that was delightfully creamy and served on a bed of salted nuts. The third cheese served was the Welsh Caerphilly. This was another hard cheese and was smooth and buttery. The trio were all of a high quality and there has obviously been a conscious effort to source such great cheeses.
The final course served was barbecue apple, croissant meringue and hay ice cream. The lovely warmth from the apple was controlled by the ice cream. A deep seam of cinnamon ran through the whole dish. The dish was served with a glass of Somerset apple brandy – a perfect pairing.
Upon completion of the eye-opening dinner, I mulled over things with a pot of freshly brewed tea. To my surprise – and subsequent delight – I was also presented with a bite size dark chocolate and a ‘carrot cloud’. The latter turned out to be a handcrafted marshmallow rolled in dried carrot. This was a very lovely conclusion to an all round well-presented meal.
The art of crafting a menu can take much deliberation and credit goes to Dale Mailley and Edward Murray for conjuring such a great menu every day. The dishes allow the quality of the produce to speak for itself without overcomplicating the palate. The simple passion and commitment to delivering excellent food shines through many aspects of the Gardener’s Cottage: from the simple décor; the attentive staff to the open kitchen, there is an openness and clarity to what chefs Dale Mailley and Edward Murray are aspiring to achieve.
The Gardener’s Cottage, 1 Royal Terrace Gardens, Edinburgh, EH7 5DX. / 0131 558 1221
Seven-courses £40 (paired wines an additional £40) / Open 12-2 for lunch and 5-10 for dinner – closed on Tuesdays. www.thegardenerscottage.co/