12 Picardy Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3JT
0131 557 0952
Everybody loves Mark Greenaway. Ever since his restaurant on 12 Picardy Place opened last year, I’ve heard nothing but gushing reviews. He was even awarded three AA rosettes last month. After hearing so many good things about him (and his restaurant) I wondered if it was a case of truly amazing nosh or a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes.
I don’t tend to dine in fancy places very often. I like to think of myself as a down to earth blogger, working as a resource for ordinary folk in Edinburgh who might not be able to afford a meal priced at £50 per head; like some kind of gluttonous superhero. This probably explains why I get sent super hot hot sauce and packets of mysterious crisps to review.
Restaurant Mark Greenaway often makes itself accessible by offering deals: and for January that deal was pay what you want (PWYW). I thought that sounded rather bold, and since James and I haven’t been on a proper date for ages, I booked us a Friday night table.
When we were shown to our table, I was quite surprised; the restaurant was empty aside from another couple sitting at a table not far from us. I thought the place would be heaving due to the PWYW deal. A group of German businessmen came in a little later, around 9pm.
We were impressed with the sommelier. When he opened the first bottle of red, he didn’t even let us taste it. He took one look at the cork, sniffed the bottle, and announced that the wine was corked and he’d bring us another. The next bottle was the same: he claimed they had a bad batch, and recommended a South African pinotage. This ended up being the most gorgeous wine I’ve tasted in a long time, and was well worth the £29 price tag.
Our meal started with an amuse bouche: pumpkin veloute with pumpkin seeds and pumpkin oil.
It was a strange eating experience. It looks like it’s going to be sweet, and has the mouth feel of a mousse, yet it’s savoury. I enjoyed it but with every spoonful I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was about to eat dessert, and then got a surprise. It tasted a little like lentil soup.
For my starter, I chose the pork cheek. I’ve been hearing so much on Twitter about how amazing pork cheeks are, and I really enjoyed the ones that I had at Café Andaluz the week before. Apologies for the dark picture.
I was a bit taken aback that this was served cold. It was quite like a coarse pate, in that respect. The flavours all went well together and I was particularly fond of the cubes of apple jelly, and the thin slices of beetroot.
James had ordered a crab soup for his starter. When the plate arrived, I’m not sure that he really knew what to do with it! To this day he’s not sure where exactly the crab was.
We enjoyed our food, but not as much as the other couple; judging from the disgusting lip smacking noises coming from their table. If there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s loud eaters. Honestly, there’s no need. Smack Smack Smack. Yuck. Eat with you mouth closed! This is obviously not Mr Greenaway’s fault, but I fancied a rant.
For the main I swithered: should I have the slow cooked pork belly, or something else? Since I’d chosen pork cheeks as my starter I decided that some fish would be a nice idea. I ordered the hake and squid, which was lovely. The hake was soft and tender. The squid was fried to crisp perfection. There was plenty of beetroot dotted around the plate, and beetroot is one of my foodie loves, particularly as part of a nutritious cupcake.
James did go for the pork belly which was served with mashed potatoes and a caramel apple sauce.There was a fair amount of meat there: unfortunately he didn’t let me eat any because he’s a greedy guts but look at that crackling! All things considered, however, I think I went for the right main. James complained his meat was rather tasteless and the whole dish relied more on beautiful presentation than flavour.
As the portions were small (we were still hungry) we ordered dessert. I’ve been craving some banoffee for a while so ordered the taste of banoffee platter. This was a really cool dish. There were little banana flavoured clouds, which were my favourite part, although the banana sausage rolls were rather inspired too. Oh! And the caramel tube filled with banana creme; be still my heart.
James ordered the chocolate fondant, as we were both intrigued by the sound of orange caviar. Again, he kept it to himself, but he did say afterwards that dessert was the best dish of the meal.
Our bill arrived with no issues, and as we pored over it we considered what would be a fair price for what we had eaten. Although it was gorgeous and well presented, I did feel that I wouldn’t pay more than £20 per head (excluding wine). I’d say a £70 total for a dinner where you could still tackle a bag of chips when you leave is more than fair.
I will say one thing though: it’s the first time I’ve heard a waiter say “you’re welcome” when I’ve said “thank you”. For that reason alone Mark Greenaway is worth a visit, but make sure it’s for a special occassion and you have some money to spare.