Some may have noticed I rarely write bad reviews of restaurants. Not because I lack the killer instinct to critique or have a desperate urge to please with fawning adulation, no. My generally upbeat reviews are down to a matter of moolah or to be honest, the lack of it.
You see, almost every restaurant I visit, I research carefully first. It’s almost certainly somewhere I genuinely want to experience, in some cases somewhere I’ve wanted to eat at for years. The dull, the mediocre the dire and the downright shit will have been meticulously identified and studiously avoided. I just don’t have the cash to piss up the wall on rubbish restaurants. If I’m going to eat anywhere, I try my hardest to ensure it’s good. It doesn’t always work out that way to be fair, but my success rate is pretty impressive. It’s extremely rare that I eat a crap meal. Life is far too short to eat badly.
So far, so good. But on a recent visit to Edinburgh, I broke all my own rules and ate lunch at a restaurant I pretty much knew sod all about. I’d had a couple of recommendations, sure, but when I turned up at the door trying to cadge a table for one, I didn’t even know what type of food they were serving.
Luckily, as it turned out, I hit the frigging jackpot and had one of the best lunches of the trip.
Located in an old converted timber yard (hence the name, cunning) the restaurant itself is large, light and incredibly stylish in a Scandinavian meets contemporary Scottish kind of way. I took a seat by the wood burner whilst resting the menu on a heavy reclaimed wood table and admired a tartan throw artfully draped over the back of some kind of metal framed design classic chair. It felt like I’d stepped into the pages of a trendy lifestyle mag. Of course, as you’d imagine I was entirely at home in such a setting but still, tres stylised.
The stylishness continued when my bottle of water was placed on a sawn off tree trunk perched next to the table. Totes organic trendy.
The menu has an interesting ‘bite’ section, basically amuse to get you started. I ordered a couple.
Ham hock jelly, quails egg, toast, cress, mushroom and apple featured on the set lunch menu and was delicious with a lovely delicate balance of flavours. A set meat jelly isn’t something I’d considered before as a main component of a dish but it worked beautifully.
My second ‘bite’; cured mallard, pickled roots, nuts and lichen was decent but perhaps just a little underwhelming compared to the ham hock dish. I thought it needed something else in there, just to lift it a bit more. In any case I’d ordered this dish because the idea of eating lichen was intriguing. Unfortunately I couldn’t pick the individual flavour out.
I should mention the bread, which was great and served with a side plate of whipped butter, juniper smoked black pepper and Hebredian sea salt with rosemary. I bet I know what you’re thinking. I thought the same. It all sounds incredibly pretentious and just a bit poncey. But you know what? It actually worked and the flavours actually came through. Anyone watching would have seen my facial impression change from bemused sneer to smiling approval by the time I’d stuffed the last piece of bread into my mouth.
The next dish, a starter of raw roe deer, smoked and pickled beetroot, bramble and spiced bread was superb. The roe deer, chopped into a coarse tartare had a beautiful subtle gamey flavour. The plating style was interesting, with the food arranged outwards from the centre of the plate in a line.
I followed this up with an absolutely banging plate of Lamb loin and belly, beetroot, kohlrabi, kale, radish and whipped potato. The lamb was beautifully cooked with the rich belly meat tasting particularly impressive.
A dessert of locally foraged sea buckthorn, crowdie (a type of Scottish cream cheese) carrot and biscuit was one of the best things I ate on the whole Edinburgh trip. It was on the set lunch menu at £5 and I just couldn’t believe the amount of work that had obviously gone into this dessert, at such a ridiculously low price. Consisting of a sea buckthorn granita and a jelly, whipped crowdie an unusual carrot sorbet (which was absolutely delicious) a frozen vanilla parfait and sheets of meringue. I know all the work is in the preparation, and assembly would take no time at all, but still, f*ck, a fiver! It was phenomenal.
At this point I headed downstairs to the loo and was intrigued by the pommel horse (obviously for a bit of pre-piss gymnastics) and the industrial tapping and water dripping sounds piped through the speakers. Very unusual but also weirdly cool.
I loved Timberyard. The whole place felt seemingly effortlessly cool and stylish, but as is often not the case when using those words to describe anywhere, it also felt very welcoming. Put simply, it had a good vibe.
The food itself is incredibly interesting and quiet unlike anything I’ve eaten lately. I’m trying to think of somewhere comparable and I’m drawing a blank. Believe me, that’s a good thing. Everything I ate was delicious but the lamb dish in particular was lovely and the sea buckthorn dessert was seriously impressive. Kernel table beer was available as well, which gets the whole place an extra massive thumbs up from me.
If you find yourself in Edinburgh, definitely go and eat here.
10 Lady Lawson Street,