We have a few restaurants that we like to visit when in Edinburgh but on Saturday we wanted to dine somewhere that was closer to the Playhouse than our regulars. With this in mind, I started the usual Internet searches and after trawling through the results from the various restaurant websites, I booked a table The Olive Branch Bistro on Broughton Street, which is just a short walk away from the theatre.
After a slow stroll through John Lewis and Harvey Nichols, where Nicola began making plans for the next addition to her designer handbag collection, we arrived at the restaurant ten minutes early for our booking. After being shown to our table, our waiter/front of house manager arrived with the menu and a couple of glasses of iced cold water, scoring brownie points from the off, before drawing our attention to the specials board as well as making a recommendation of a few main menu items.
The well constructed menu made it difficult to choose what we wanted, in fact I don't think there was anything on the main courses that I didn't like the sound of, but eventually we placed our order and began to enjoy our wine.
Meanwhile Nicola had chosen the Goats cheese mousse with beetroot purée, which looked stunning and tasted delicious. The mousse was light and creamy and well seasoned with the just right amount of goats cheese to leave a slightly sharp taste at the end of every bite. The mousse was accompanied by a wonderful beetroot purée packed with earthy flavours which seemed to be the perfect partner to the sharp goats cheese, and a scattering of hand rolled oatcakes. As it happened, Nicola had to ask for a couple more oatcakes to finish off her starter, this was no problem and a side plate with fresh supplies was quickly delivered.
As the restaurant started to fill up with more pre-theatre diners it gave us a few minutes enjoy our wine and let our starters settle before the mains were delivered. When they did arrive, they were both visually stunning! I had chosen Pan-Fried Sea Bass with a warm Jersey Royal & caper salad, roasted cherry tomatoes and salsa verde. Only one word can describe the plate of food that was served to me...Wow! I could have eaten this all night, deliciously sweet sea bass served on a bed of buttered Jersey Royals, peppery rocket and salty capers, all pulled together with wonderful roasted sweet cherry tomatoes. To further compliment the fish, a tasty home made pesto was dotted around the plate. Everything on the plate had a reason to be there, but believe me when I say that they didn't stay there for too long!
As soon as Nicola spotted lamb on the menu, it was a foregone conclusion that she would be ordering the Herb Crusted Lamb Chops, Black Pudding Dauphinois, seasonal greens and mint jus. While my main had been fresh and light, the dish presented to Nicola was a more homely affair. Two thick herb crusted lamb chops which were cooked to perfection, served slightly pink, with the most delicious mint infused gravy. This was accompanied by perfectly al dente broccoli and peppery spinach, and an ingenious side of black pudding dauphinois. This was quite simply a slice of spicy black pudding topped with light, garlicky sliced potato. Again, everything on the plate worked well together and made it easy for Nicola to almost clear her plate. Fortunately for me, she struggled to finish off the dauphinois so I offered to help.
After big two courses of fantastic food, neither of us had room for puddings, oh well it just means that we need to go back another time. Our bill for dinner, including a large glass of wine each, was £47. Fantastic value when you consider the quality of food served, as well as the courteous staff on duty. Both Nicola and myself agree that the meal that we had on Saturday was one of the best that we have eaten in a long, long time and I can't wait until our next visit to the capital.