A few weeks ago we chose The Walnut on Leith Walk for our anniversary dinner after reading all the wonderful 5 star reviews and lovely comments about the food on Facebook.
The Walnut is situated at 9 Croall Place just off Leith Walk, a 10 minute walk from the East End of town. The restaurant is BYOB and there are a few handy wine shops and a Tesco close by just in case you forget to bring a bottle or leave it on the bus like we have been known to do!
The restaurant is cosy and seats between 20 and 30 people comfortably. Ordering revolves around a central blackboard where the day’s dishes are scribed for all to see. It’s unusual not to have printed menus available but this system seems to work well and hints at a seasonal menu that can be easily changed.
Service throughout the meal was absolutely excellent and we were offered delicious homemade bread whilst waiting for our starters. Our bottle of Carlos Rodriguez Morum 2014 Rioja was opened and we sat enjoying our bread, wine and the Leith Walk goings on from our perch in the window.
For starter, Raymond chose roast carrot, goats cheese and walnut salad at £3.50 (yes you read that correctly…£3.50!) and I had the most expensive starter on the menu; steamed mussels with gorgonzola bacon and leek at £6.50. Raymond’s salad was well presented with good sized chunks of goats cheese and walnuts scattered around the two carrot halves. The carrots tasted more like boiled carrots and didn’t really do much for the dish itself – a shame really as a crispy roasted carrot would have made all the difference.
This was my first time trying the mix of cheese, bacon, leek and mussels and it was a finger licking triumph. Thankfully the extra bread came in handy to mop up every last drop of liquor. The cheese added a wonderful depth of flavour to the dish and was a lovely change from the usual white wine and onion reduction you usually get with mussels.
For his next course Raymond chose braised pork with cabbage, dates and almonds (£9.50) but it was the pan fried sirloin steak (8oz) with parsley root, parsley and mustard and anchovy sauce that took my attention (£12.50).
Raymond’s pork was a hearty portion and very tasty indeed. The chef uses flavour combinations well with a variety of tastes and textures on each plate. Sadly, the limp carrot made an unwelcome return on this dish but didn’t detract from the rest of this enjoyable plate of food.
My steak was delicious and perfectly cooked, and whilst I was worried that the anchovies might overpower the dish, they didn’t. The steak was served with a massive potato and half a boiled parsnip that had then been chargrilled – not the nicest accompaniment to the meal. I fully understand that the chef is trying out new ideas and taste combinations but sometimes you just crave some absolutely scrumptious crisp chips to go with the steak and along with the other flavours, this would have made it a star dish.
Bread and Butter pudding (£4) was on the menu and is one of my favourites so I chose that, while Raymond’s chocolate loving tendencies made the dark chocolate and ancho chilli tart (£4) his dessert of choice.
The bread and butter pudding arrived looking moist but still with crisp edges, lots of raisins and accompanied by a jug of steaming custard. After pouring the custard around the plate and taking my first spoonful I knew I had made the right choice. The bread and butter pudding was perfect and didn’t last long. So often the dish arrives dry, lacking in flavour and you have to hunt to find the raisins.
Raymond’s chocolate tart was just as tasty having a thin, crisp pastry and a robust chocolate flavour with the ancho chillies providing a deep sweet and smoky flavour. It turned out to be a lovely end to the meal.
The standard of service and cooking at The Walnut is very strong considering there seems to be just one chef in the kitchen and one person front of house. You really do feel that the prices should be much higher for the quality of food provided.
The Walnut is definitely a place we will return and we can’t wait to see how the menu evolves.
Have you visited The Walnut yet? If you have, leave us a comment below and let us know how you got on.
9 Croall Place
Tel: 0131 281 1236
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