Looking for restaurants in Edinburgh? Read our review of high-end Italian Mono, and check out more suggestions for eating in Edinburgh here.
Mono in a nutshell
An Italian ‘progressive fine-dining’ restaurant, situated on the edge of the Old Town, Mono elevates quality Scottish produce to new heights.
Mono is the vision of experienced Polish chef Maciek Zielinski and Italian foodie Joseph Crolla. With Maciek’s CV including Morrison Street’s Atelier (which he opened), Tango in Norway, one-Michelin-starred Metamorfosi in Rome and two-star Enrico Bartolini al Mudec in Milan, there’s a visible flirtation with global flavours and techniques on Mono’s menu, despite its foundations in Italian cuisine.
What’s the vibe?
Coming in from one of the busiest, noisiest streets in Edinburgh, you’re transported into a modern, minimalist room with lots of wood, soft leather and natural materials. Enjoy a pre-dinner drink and a snack from the bar menu, then head downstairs to a more formal space which, despite a busy open kitchen, still manages to feel serene.
What’s the food like at Mono?
Diners can enjoy an à la carte menu at lunch or dinner or dive into a five- or seven-course tasting menu and make the most of all that Mono has to offer.
Semolina bread and salty grissini are served with a saucer of extra-virgin olive oil that hails from Sicily – indeed it’s from the chef’s family grove. Tempura-style red mullet perched on top of creamy burrata, with the tiniest baby artichoke and furikake seasoning, breaks the first culinary boundaries.
‘Lasagna’, arrives as delicate little pasta buttons stuffed with rich veal ragu that tastes rewardingly of its long, patient cooking, pepped up with an earthy sage oil and more umami from a sticky veal gravy.
Cod baccalà, sea herbs and mugnaia sauce is the highlight of the savoury courses. Firm-textured salted fish sits perfectly with mashed potatoes of dreams, the most vibrant, green parsley sauce you could imagine, and another layer of flavour courtesy of a lemon-butter emulsion. Don’t let this go to waste – save yourself bread for mopping.
Local Borders lamb, with a truffled pecorino crust, is served pink and tender alongside pea purée and spring vegetables, while another course sees a bold treatment of local food hero Katy Rodgers’ crowdie (the soft Scottish cow’s milk curd cheese). Served with sea truffle gelato, chicory, pine nuts and honeycomb, it’s a sweet and savoury combination that won’t be for everyone. The honeycomb is inspired but the rest seems overly complicated.
Dark chocolate delice hits the spot, though, with buttermilk ice cream that threatens to outshine its plate-fellow with its silky and smooth mouthfeel. The joys of a tasting menu – there’s yet another pud to finish. This time, it’s made with new-season Scottish strawberries, a quenelle of glossy mascarpone, topped with a sweet Douglas Fir syrup. It’s an impressive end to a showcase of Scottish produce, with a posh Italian accent.
And the drinks?
Trust in the sommelier, as you have with the chef, and you won’t be disappointed. The wine flight features bottles from leading Italian producers (and a couple of surprises from elsewhere in the world) – artisan, organic, biodynamic, sustainable and natural, they all live up to the food.
There’s a vegetarian tasting menu available, too, featuring (depending on the season) the likes of spinach gnudi and morel risotto.
Mono, 85 South Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1HN
Words by Hilary Sturzaker