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Calistoga Restaurant & Sideways Wine Store
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Calistoga Restaurant and Sideways Wine Store
70 Rose St North Lane,
Off Rose Street,
Edinburgh,
EH2 3DX
[View Map]
0131 225 1233
Monday to Saturday - 12noon until 2.30pm (last orders). 5pm until 10pm (last orders) Sun 12.30pm-10pm

Food & wine sunshine

 

Lighting up a cobbled lane, Calistoga manages to be a speciality niche restaurant (Californian wines only), yet still provide something for everyone.  Lengthy opening hours, great transport location, table wines at just £5 mark-up from retail (thus some real bargains here compared to the few token Californian wines found elsewhere in Edinburgh), and a wide range of price points in both food & wine.

 

I took my wine tutor Claire Blackler, as a belated thank you for so effectively & entertainingly stuffing some knowledge into my noddle.  Proprietor Gordon was happy to season our food with a range of samples from his wine flights, letting us try some normally sold by the bottle (they have Coravin, so 'opened' wine stays fresh).  Notably, many wines are listed with good bottle age. 

We were welcomed with Ca'Secco brut. See what they did there, Prosecco fans? No need to worry faced with unfamiliar choices - Californians have every wine box you could think of ticked, with freedom of choice harnessed to an established passionate, and technologically-savvy, quality wine culture.  And the owners here know their wines inside out, with Gordon dispensing stories of wacky & wonderful winemakers & their vineyard havens. 

The lime juice in Claire's tomato, cucumber & lime tostadas had a clear affinity with the acidity in the Pedroncelli Sauvignon Blanc.  My own perfectly pan-fried scallops with chilli & mango salsa & a sprinkle of pea dust were also good with Cline Viognier, which gently tamed the fresh red chilli & enhanced the dish's sweetness.  At this point we tried some Marimar Albarino from the cool Russian River Valley - not a grape you might normally associate with California but its rounder flavour here I found more appealing and less aggressive with food than many Portuguese & Galician Albarinos.

Presentation is allied to flavour at every stage resulting in colourful, healthy food with texture & depth.  My monkfish main was a great example: wrapped in a sheet of toasted nori, the seaweed almost fooled me into thinking I'd been given a steak.  Indeed, the meaty fish within, allied to its gloriously delicious stew of orzo with wild garlic, & tomato jelly, was easily powerful enough to take on red wine. Claire's zucchini & asparagus frittata with barley risotto & runner beans, while simple, worked with a more indulgent Staglin chardonnay.

At this point Gordon, carried away on the riptide of our enthusiasm, appeared with a couple of 'must-try' reds for us.  Dado represented an acceptable face of Cabernet Sauvignon that so often appears unripe ('green'-tasting) and uncomfortably tannic in young wines from less sunny climes, while Predator Zinfandel was a smokey toasty challenge - a bit of a Marmite wine, but one we warmed to, especially when cocoa nib flavours emerged. Setting a sense of place is a low-level soundtrack of live-streamed Cali tunes.

And so to pud ...Sutter Home moscato magically tasted of pineapple when paired with pineapple & coconut creme brulée with a satisfyingly-thin crackly top and coconut-vanilla shot on the side. Chocolate mousse textures including a lusciously liquid white lemon & smooth milk choc (our favourites), sang with Quady Elysium Black Muscat.

A picture-perfect cheese plate was needed to tempt us and a meltingly ripe Morangie Brie, my favourite the Strathdon Blue, and Mull cheddar arrived with a pair of port-type partners-in-crime - Quady Batch 88 Starboard and 96 Vintage Starboard.

Calistoga is a golden nugget with frequent events and wine tastings. A great way to  familiarise yourself with the Cali wine list & experiment with food & wine matching.  (The Go-Between) 
 



 

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