The Black Grape: "small plates, wine & good times"
The Black Grape has opened on the site of the former Pancho Villas in the Canongate.
It is the brainchild of entrepreneurs Stuart Hunter, Cameron Taylor and experienced restaurateur Murray Ainslie who previously operated The Chop House group of restaurants and The White Horse Oyster and Seafood Bar.
Simone and I visit this ‘twixmas’ to sample small plates, cocktails, and wine and snag a half-moon banquette overlooking the Italian terrazzo tiled bar and comment on the palette of calm green, blue and grey hues along with plants all of which contribute to the ‘kick-back and relax’ vibe. There is also exposed brickwork and low lighting. It’s an historic building in a unique, World Heritage Site location and The Black Grape’s classy makeover respects this.
Their signature Sour Grapes cocktail (Haku vodka, Black Grape, lemon oil, Sauternes) is elegant both in taste and presentation. The crimson drink is served in a long-stemmed coupe and garnished with two glossy ebony fruits skewered on a glinting steel cocktail stick, rather like a hat pin. Class Magazine’s former ‘Bartender of The Year’ Joey Medrington is responsible for this gorgeous creation. Gordal olives to the side are buxom and briny.
Flavours at The Black Grape, whether in drinks or food, are bold but not overpowering. So, you can expect Stilton, goat, cream, cacao, yuzu, kimchi, charcoal, Bearnaise, bacon, and banana but in the Blue Cheese Croquettes (which have a proper Bechamel sauce) the flavour is a well-judged gentle. The Kimchi Fritter on the other hand smacks our tastebuds with its delicious mix of salty, crispy moreish-ness. Njuda Arancini have subtle heat and sit on a thick pesto sauce.
Dressed Crab with fried potato and Béarnaise is the overall winner which is an achievement given the competition. The rich, voluptuous sauce enveloping the sweet fish and fondant tattie is just too sexy. There should be a shout out too for the bottle of Grenache-Viognier from Nîmes which is stony dry and full of tannins due the addition of some red grape skins during fermentation.
Everything we eat and drink at The Black Grape I would order again, and I can’t wait to try those dishes we just couldn’t squeeze in this time around.
We did manage Sticky Chocolate Pudding to share and I had a Golden Slumbers cocktail. Who could resist cacao butter, toasted sesame, Macallan 12yo double cask and white chocolate? Not me.
The Black Grape offers contemporary casual dining and is well placed to be enjoyed by locals and tourists alike and I am sure it will be. (S. Wilson)
The Black Grape, 240 Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8AB.
Opening times: Monday to Friday: 3pm – late Saturday & Sunday: 12pm - late