In a nutshell
Opening only a matter of months ago, Lovage in Edinburgh’s old town has already built up a loyal following thanks to its excellent service and outstanding food using quality Scottish produce.
Brothers and chefs Lukasz and Bartek Jedrejek have worked in various restaurants around Edinburgh. Bartek was most recently at Tom Kitchin’s gastropub Scran and Scallie, while Lukasz has been working as a biomedical scientist with one eye on blood transfusions and the other firmly on the kitchen! They have their mum to thank for their keen interest in cooking; she taught them a lot of what they know and love about food.
What are they cooking
Unsurprisingly, Lovage appears on several of the dishes here including a starter of curd cheese, runner beans, lovage pesto, roast hazelnuts and halva; and a 35-day-dry aged ribeye steak accompanied by lovage mash, herb and parmesan butter, sautéed baby gem and anchovies. Both brilliant.
The passion that comes out of the kitchen is delivered in equal measure from the front of house staff: they knew every detail on the menu, the ethos behind the restaurant, the background of the chefs, the intricacies of the wine menu. It was impressive.
A starter of Scottish scallops, apple and cucumber salsa, mint oil and scallop mayo made for a satisfying change from the predictable partner of black pudding or haggis that you come across far too often. Scallops were light and tender, while the salsa and mint oil made the dish really fresh.
Slow-cooked Ayrshire pork belly, chorizo crisps, apple and horseradish puree, baby leek, buckwheat and porter sauce was thoroughly enjoyed. Crispy skin, tender meat and full on flavour from the oozing fat – happy days indeed. Hake for main was cooked perfectly: the skin was so crisp, while langoustine bisque was poured at the table, complementing the rest of the plate which included mussels, coconut, sugar snap peas and mint.
Free-range chicken supreme could have been completely dull, but it wasn’t. Succulent roasted chicken accompanied by a rich creamy saffron risotto (belt-loosening stuff), baby carrots, runner beans and butter sauce – filling, but impossible to leave.
The chocolate fondant has the requisite runny middle and was served with salted caramel ice cream and an intriguing pine infused plum and black pepper crumble. It was refreshing in its difference. Honey cake, strawberry and elderflower sorbet with rapeseed oil foam and orange crumble felt a little lacking, simply because our fondant set the bar so high.
What’s the room like/atmosphere
Exposed brick, huge pendant lighting, a large lovage leaf on the concrete wall – it’s all been well thought out. The restaurant has a front and rear dining room, with typical Edinburgh Old Town features, plenty of steps, a lovely fireplace and seating around 20 in each room.
Menu must-orders and misfires
Lunch at Lovage is £13.95 for two courses or £17.95 for three – incredibly good value.
Our must order was the chocolate fondant but there are plenty of main courses that will be on the hit list next time. Braised lamb shank with savoy cabbage, couscous, madeira sauce and black pudding sounds delicious as does the 35-day-dry aged steak.
The wine list is succinct and a Romanian chardonnay at £20 shone. Look out, too, for Scottish beers including Paolozzi lager brewed in Edinburgh and the seasonal St Andrew’s Bramble Saison.
Modest, unpretentious, confident cooking. Not just one to watch, but one to frequent.
38 St Mary’s Street
Reviewed by Hilary Sturzaker, September 2016
Photo credit: Jason Kimmings