If one word had to sum up a recent meal at Wedgwood, I’m pretty sure that mum, my dining companion for the night, would agree that ‘immaculate’ would be a fine choice of adjective. Having taken the train up from Dunbar for the occasion, she was quickly assured that a 60 mile round trip was a short journey for what turned out to be a delicious experience!
Paul & Lisa Wedgwood opened their Canongate restaurant in 2007, and it doesn’t look like the seven year itch is kicking in anytime soon. The restaurant has two dining rooms, one at street level and another downstairs space, both of which are cosy (compact & bijou!) and despite our having arrived for a rather early 6pm table on a Friday, the place filled up immediately, creating a buzzy vibe.
We were offered a selection of amuse-bouches which definitely set the quality and flavour tone for the rest of the night’s eating. We supped a satin-smooth carrot soup from espresso cups, tucked into a spoon of perfectly sweet lobster meat dotted with the saline burst of caviar crème fraîche, and crunched on toastlets with aromatically seasoned pork rillettes. It was pretty clear from here in which direction of favour this reviewer was travelling.
The menu offers a surprisingly long list of ten or so choices for starters (£6.95 – £12.95) and mains, which did oblige a slower than usual selection process. Eventually my carb-obsessed pregnant appetite opted for one of several tempting vegetarian options, leek and cheddar bread and butter pudding with roast tomato, soused fennel, and the intriguing sounding fennel ice cream. The comforting but delicate notes of the cheese in the pudding played well with the bursts of sweet acidity from the roasted cherry toms and the ribbons of pickled fennel. The fennel ice cream, I presume , is a bit of a vote-divider. I loved its semi-sweet notes and silky texture and if nothing else heralded good things from the pastry section! Mum went all out and picked the show-stopper of seared diver scallops with pickled squash, puree of Caesar salad, crisp ham, and chorizo oil. A generous and elegantly dressed plate allowed for some cross-table sharing, and the verdict was ‘perfection’ , a plate with lots of interest in each component including the tiny nibs of oak smokey ham and modernist cubes of sweet pickled veg.
A palate-cleanser appeared before the main courses (quite novel, usually I’d expect this to clear the way between savoury and sweet eats), and as a pick-me-up, it certainly did the trick. A little shot glass with a potion of very firey ginger beer, citrus sorbet and raspberry coulis went down a like a mini rocket firing on all cylinders!
From the main courses (priced £15.95-£26.95), Mum managed to again nab the ‘daddy’ dish of the Scottish beef fillet with new potato fries, with acceptably and appropriately retro carrots, beans and peppercorn sauce to keep it company. This dish was all about that estimable, seared to perfection, pink on the inside and tasty as you like fillet of beef. The rest of the dish was secondary, the home-cut chips were perhaps average in comparison, but with the ultimate steak on your plate (amen to to restaurant’s butcher!), there wasn’t much need for other considerations anyway.
My roast duck dish was more complex in its contrast of flavours and textures. First-off, the seared duck breast itself was again perfectly cooked with a layer of crisp flavourful skin. A croquette of confit leg meat was packed with savoury satisfaction and things got really interesting when the plate-fellows were brought into the mix. A few tender seasonal Jerusalem artichokes with a hazelnut crumble was all about earthy comfort, whilst the chorizo roasted sprouts made me think those little green guys aren’t so bad after all.
It would have been rude not to have tried the desserts (all £6.50), it really would. Mum’s pick of hazelnut mousse with chocolate brownie, and liquorice ice cream, candied orange, was as good-looking as it was accomplished, and evoked a kind of Christmas-y vibe with the classic hazelnut, chocolate and orange combination. The ice cream, much like it’s cousin earlier on, was enigmatic in a good way. Meanwhile, my Earl grey brûlée was excellent, but the delicate notes of the bergamot scented tea were a bit lost when combined with the ultra tangy marmalade compôte at the bottom of the ramekin. Little chunks of roasted pear and a pistachio sponge were made incredible once dragged through what was like a pesto made of sweet pistachios, and which was a fantastic alternative to the ubiquitous dessert garnish of a fruit coulis!
It’s clear that Wedgwood strikes that elusive balance of ‘fancy and fun’ just perfectly. It’s right up there in the best of the city’s fine dining, and that there was such a lively atmosphere in the place goes to show Paul and Lisa have a winning formula of being able to present perfect food in a friendly dining room that delivers first-class service without being too stuffy. Word has it they do a lunch menu at a ridiculously well-priced £16-odd for three courses. If you can think of any reason for a lunch or dinner out over the next wee while, make sure Wedgwood’s on your list!