We were let into one of Edinburgh’s best-kept secrets when we visited La Petite Mort in Tollcross.   Tucked away behind Bennet’s bar, just next to the King’s Theatre, this atmospheric restaurant oozes theatrical drama as we approach.  The muted grey walls and ornate wood bar (from a ship apparently) can be seen past the flickering candles as you peer in the window.  The decor features lots of dark wood and tables have been up-cycled using Singer Sewing machine tables complete with working treadles.  It feels a bit like the set of an am-dram production of Jamaica Inn but feels very warm, welcoming and oddly romantic.

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Porthole Cocktails – a first for us!

Our anticipation was building as we had been organised enough to pre-order one of their rather unique (to Edinburgh) Porthole cocktails.  Our cocktail had been made up 24 hours in advance and rested overnight in a Porthole Infuser.  We hadn’t come across these vessels before but it turns out they were designed in 2011 as a custom piece for the bar chefs at The Aviary Bar in Chicago, IL.  They are like a colourful kaleidoscopic Damian Hirst work of art.

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Aviation Porthole Cocktail

We chose an Aviation Porthole, a delicious concoction of Eden Mill Love Gin, Crème de Violette, Maraschino Cherry Liqueur and  Lemon Juice.  Cherries, berries and lemon were then added to the mixture inside the Porthole and left to infuse overnight.  La Petite Mort offers half a dozen Porthole cocktails which vary with the seasons.  Priced around the £18 mark they can seem expensive but you do get around 3 good sized measures from each one and they are lovely to share!   If you are planning a night at the theatre or out on town we thoroughly recommend ordering a Porthole the day before – it will really create a wow for your partner and get you lots of brownie points too!

The dinner menu changes by the season and has a lot to offer without being too complicated; three starters, five mains and three desserts.  The dishes combine Scottish ingredients in interesting sounding ways along with some global influences including bold Italian flavours and Thai spices. Our lovely waitress brought some homemade smoked paprika and pumpkin seed bread along with some swiftly rustled up white for me after I mentioned my paprika allergy.  She also rushed off to check with the kitchen that the dishes I’d ordered were paprika free – great service!

La Petite Mort Starters.

My starter of honeyed pork belly (£6.95) arrived sitting on 3 discs of black pudding and pancetta surrounded by pea and apple puree then scattered with apple slivers.  The pork belly was moist and just melted in my mouth and worked perfectly with the spicy black pudding.  Head chef Neil Conner uses the best of Scotland’s larder in his cooking so when I asked where the black pudding was sourced from the waitress looked a bit confused and said we make it here – they are all a bit mad in that kitchen! – Love it!

“we make the black pudding ourselves……they are all a bit mad in that kitchen!”
plate with Honey glazed slow cooked belly of pork, black pudding and pancetta disk, pea and apple puree
Honey glazed slow cooked belly of pork, black pudding and pancetta disk, pea and apple puree

Raymond chose the sweetcorn, chilli and lime poppy seeded ravioli, coconut and Tom Kha Sauce (£6.95).  The large ravioli parcel was stuffed full of sweetcorn and chillies but was a bit lacking in Thai flavours and a bit more sauce would have helped although the over-al dente pasta made it a bit of an effort to eat.

Plate showing Sweetcorn, Chilli and Lime Poppy Seeded Ravioli, coconut, Tom Kha Sauce
Sweetcorn, Chilli and Lime Poppy Seeded Ravioli, coconut, Tom Kha Sauce

Main Course Delights

My chicken roulade (£15.95) arrived stuffed with chunky walnuts and zingy apple and was drizzled with a rich red wine jus.  I’d read excellent reviews about La Petite Mort’s risotto and I wasn’t disappointed.  It turned out to be the perfect texture, rich and creamy and had good sized chunks of mushroom scattered through it.  The sweet potato pureé added a dash of colour to the plate and contrasted in texture with the crunchy Kale crisps.  This was a nicely presented winter dish packed with flavour and nice textures.

Plate with Apple, walnut, sage and corn fed roulade, duck fat confit sweet potato puree, mushroom and sage risotto, red wine jus
Apple, walnut, sage and corn fed roulade, duck fat confit sweet potato puree, mushroom and sage risotto, red wine jus

Raymond’s cod (£16.95) arrived topped with a crunchy parma ham and chorizo crumb which provided a lovely smokiness and warm golden colour.  There were more nuggets of chorizo scattered among the sauteéd cabbage giving lots of flavour without overpowering the chunky piece of cod.  The sprout mash was an unusual addition and unmistakably sprouts but very tasty.  The highlight of the dish was the delicious crisp Cullen skink arancini, the smoked creamy haddock filling echoing the chorizo flavour.  The dish had lots of elements that worked a treat together and full marks for coming up with this unlikely sounding combination of bold flavours.

Plate showing Parma ham and chorizo crusted cod fillet, cullen skink aranacini, brussel sprout and nutmeg puree, Parma ham crisp, sauteéd chorizo and cabbage.
Parma ham and chorizo crusted cod fillet, Cullen skink arancini, brussel sprout and nutmeg puree, Parma ham crisp, sauteéd chorizo and cabbage.

Room for dessert?

We decided to share a dessert and opted for a combination of sticky toffee and gingerbread pudding with vanilla ice cream and toffee sauce (£5.95).  This was another first for us – toffee and gingerbread puddings together on the same plate – what a combination.  The slab of sticky gingerbread had a dense oaty texture with fiery chunks of ginger throughout while the toffee pudding was light and moist.  There was a generous drizzle of warm toffee sauce and the scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream helped temper the ginger and keep everything deliciously decadent.  This is the perfect sharing dessert and we were having our own petite mort eating it.  Our glass of elegant and not too sweet Sauternes dessert wine was the perfect accompaniment and end to a delightful evening in this gem of a restaurant.

Plate showing Sticky toffee pudding, gingerbread pudding, vanilla ice cream and toffee sauce.
Sticky toffee pudding, gingerbread pudding, vanilla ice cream and toffee sauce.

La Petite Mort deserves to be on everyone’s must-visit list as they serve up quirky and interesting food and drinks with equal care and attention to detail.  They have that rare combination of talented chef willing to try something different and equally talented front of house staff who want you to have the best experience possible.  Now that the secret is out, we thoroughly recommend discovering this restaurant for yourself – just make sure to pre-order your Porthole cocktail in advance!

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How to book a table at La Petite Mort.

La Petite Mort
32 Valleyfield Street
Tollcross
Edinburgh
EH3 9LR

Tel: 0131 229 3693

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Many thanks to La Petite Mort for inviting us along to sample their Porthole Cocktails and menu. As always all views are our very own!

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