Thursday, March 26, 2009

Eat : A tale of two Bistros. Cafe Marlayne and The Outsider, Edinburgh

Edinburgh has an abundance of great restaurants. Every time I come up here, I am quite amazed at the availability of decent food. However, I tend to migrate to the same haunts where I know the food is decent and inexpensive. This trip was slightly different in that this was my first trip in a few years and I was left with the niggling thought whether the old haunts would still hit the spot. I guess there was only one way to find out.

Cafe Marlayne on Fishmarket Close

This place was my little sister's recommendation. Cafe Marlayne has 2 restaurants, one on Thistle Street which is small and quaint and always busy and one on Fishmarket Close which is small and quaint and not as busy as the Thistle street branch. Located just off the Royal Mile, I would imagine that this would be thriving due to the passing tourist trade. Reservation secured, I had heard good things about this place from sisters 2 and 3 and was looking forward to a good feed.

It was pretty empty for Saturday lunchtime but soon reached "bustling" if not overly busy. That was probably a good thing with just one waitress and 2 chefs. The menu was handwritten and contained a selection of home cooked favourites. I plumped for a Chicken Supreme with bacon and leeks whilst the rest went for the Haddock and Steak.

What I got was a succulent and well cooked piece of chicken with a nice creamy sauce salty with bacon and oniony with the flavour of leeks. Nothing spectacular but perfectly palatable. The steak was perfectly cooked medium as requested and had a great flavour with a decent char, no mean feat. For £8, it was an absolute bargain! All mains come with a selection of vegetables and the huge dish brought to our table for the four of us contained the staple broccoli, carrots and new potatoes, all well cooked (al dente!).

Desserts ordered were sticky toffee pudding (far too sweet for me but my sisters appeared to enjoy it) and a coffee crème brulee which was very competently executed and had a nice subtle taste of espresso.

All in all, I don't think you can go far wrong with this place. The food is good and very affordable, costing us just over £10 a head. No fireworks but you can't get food of that quality for that price down here in London!

7 Old Fishmarket Close
Edinburgh, EH1 1RW
Cafe Marlayne on Urbanspoon

The Outsider on George IV Bridge

This restaurant has become a bit of a destination restaurant in Edinburgh. Sister restaurant to The Apartment, it's started to build its own reputation and has been thriving now for a few years. Located just off the George IV Bridge, it has excellent views of the castle and a quirky setup inside with the restaurant split into different alcoves sections and levels.

Every time I come to Edinburgh, I always try to make a trip here for 2 main reasons, their garlicky fries and their apple and beetroot coleslaw. I know that these two dishes hardly sound that awe-inspiring but the minute I put my first garlicky fry in my mouth, I fell in love with this place.

I was worried that they might have stopped serving these little beauties but I was not let down. The question what was I going to order with it. The menu was pretty varied although I neglected to take a picture so pretty much forgot what was on it other than what I ate. I do remember that they seem to make a big deal out of their CHL line (Chunky Healthy Line I think) which is basically a bunch of stuff on skewers.

My main of venison with spring greens and pearl barley risotto was competently cooked and actually quite delicious. The only criticism was that the venison was a little stringy (is this consistent with venison as a whole?) but the greens were delicious as was the pearl barley. On the whole, I think everyone enjoyed their food and the fries and coleslaw certainly didn't let me down, they tasted just as good as the first time I tried them.

Just to highlight one common criticism of this place and that's service. I personally didn't have a problem when I went. The waitress was perfectly nice and attentive on a very busy Saturday night. I say don't always believe what you read in reviews.

To sum up, I still love this place. Come here if you want some decent food in a cool setting. It's also very reasonably priced (mains around the tenner mark on average) so won't break the bank in these credit crunch times.

15-16 George IV Bridge
Edinburgh, EH1 1EE
Outsider on Urbanspoon

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