13th April 2015 – 5.45pm
This place has been many incarnations since I have lived in Edinburgh. The current edition is very themed but somehow works so it doesn’t feel like it is a gimmick. The gardeners feel isn’t intrusive (we didn’t get any food served on trowels!) but also feels integral and brings a warmth I enjoyed. We were able to pick a booth to sit in but there were varied tables and sofas to meet most people’s needs.
We ordered some cocktails whilst we perused the menu. We both plumped for a rhubarb and ginger mojito, which was served in a jam jar with a handle. This was very good and had a great taste of rhubarb. We were given food menus which suggest 3-4 plates each, providing food very much in the tapas style. We went for four each, mainly because there seemed to be so many goodies on offer. So, I ended up going for whitebait with lime and coriander mayo; kimchi radishes; salt baked carrots, beets and goats curd and confit duck with bacon, potato and samphire. My dining companion went for sourdough; goats cheese, pomegranate and granola; pigs cheeks and burnt rosemary hand-cut chips.
As with tapas, plates of food come out when they are ready. First out were the kimchi radishes, which I realised when they appeared that I was getting confused with the normal kimchi which is cabbage. These radishes were still nice and the sour cream certainly helped lift them. However, there were rather a lot, even if sharing. The sourdough followed. This consisted of three chunky pieces of bread, drizzled with olive oil, accompanied by a tasty tomato concoction. The bread was bouncy and fresh. Next was the whitebait. There were tons of them. This was the point at which we began to realise that three plates each would have probably been enough. I have to say that the whitebait was my favourite of all the plates I had. They were crispy and worked perfectly with the mayo. When the goats cheese arrived, it was probably one of the prettiest dishes we had. It was simple but elegant. My friend commented that it would be something you could make at home but would never think of doing. There was a generous portion of goats cheese on the plate.
The carrots and beets also looked stunning on the plate but were cold. They weren’t advertised as a salad but it seemed a shame as the taste indicted that even luke-warm would have been a benefit to the dish.My dining partner had ordered pigs cheeks which she devoured. She said she would definitely order it again and on the plus side wasn’t too massive a portion. The sweet and sour beetroot that accompanied the pigs cheeks was a puree, which was a surprise but a pleasant one. The confit duck was nice but again the size of the dish was large and was closer to a standard main. The samphire was spectacular and the bacon was a proper slice rather than a rasher. The final plate to arrive was the chips. They were more wedges than chips but were good and came to life with the harissa yoghurt dip.
We were really stuffed but had both been eyeing up the same dessert so we decided to share. We picked the poached rhubarb, brown sugar meringue, vanilla mascarpone and rhubarb salsa. Sadly, whilst this looked lovely on the plate it was a let-down. The salsa was vile. Chilli and what I think was basil were chopped up within the rhubarb. Whist I am all for experimentation I don’t think this worked at all, at least not as a dessert with other sweet things on the plate. There was some brown blobs on the plate and after several tastes we couldn’t identify what it was but that also was too bitter for the dessert. That said, the poached rhubarb, mascarpone and the meringue were all delicious and had they all been on the plate together with nothing else, it would have been an amazing dessert. It was a bit of a shame to end on that note.
Overall I think the Potting Shed is not quite there and has yet to realise its full potential. However, it does have some really great ideas and some dishes that we would certainly go back for. I do wonder whether smaller and therefore slightly cheaper plates might work better, particularly in such a student led area. A little more thought about the potential food combinations they have available and I think they will strike gold. Adding to that the lovely staff who serves us and simply the best atmosphere I have experienced in a relaxed eatery, this place could eventually make its mark.
Food – 7/10
Service – 9/10
Atmosphere – 10/10
Value – 7/10
Overall – 33/40
Cost – £56 for 9 dishes and 2 cocktails