Hospitality has been rolling with the punches for several years. For some, the blows have been insurmountable; from the cost-of-living crisis, recruitment issues, a global pandemic, energy price rises and now the bottle deposit scheme. To survive is difficult, to develop in this context, nothing short of a miracle.
But development is what the award-winning, renowned chef Stuart Muir and his energetic business partner Paul Brennan have achieved against all the odds.
Both Stuart and Paul started Dine at Cambridge Street above the Traverse Theatre in 2015 then they bought a site in Murrayfield and last but not least they opened The Tollhouse in Canonmills late in 2022.
This third site has all the hallmarks of their other two restaurants. A seasonal menu, a polished restaurant and friendly, professional staff.
What is unique is the building. Perched above the Water of Leith, it was originally a toll collection point where merchants paid their dues in order to transport goods to the city centre. The two storey structure has been refurbished to a high standard complete with 40 plus covers, plus private dining and outdoor areas.
I arrive at sundown and the river sparkles with the fading light. I make a mental note to return to enjoy a sundowner on the heated terrace, perhaps a martini, a glass of fine wine or a flute of Charles Heidsieck, The Tollhouse’s official restaurant partner.
Tonight though Matthew, I am here to meet my friend Kate for a catch up. It’s a school night so I restrict myself to one glass of `Junge Löwen` Burgenland Blaufränkisch/ St. Laurent, Heidi Schröck & Söhne, Austria, a medium-bodied wine with raspberry and violet notes. It’s a delicious sipper to accompany my main course of Ox Cheek which tenderly falls apart into creamy, whipped mash. Parsnip chips are present for texture and a tarragon and red wine jus for sauce. Kate has Chicken with Creamy Polenta. Both main courses are well-judged, tasty and full of flavour.
Puddings are equally pleasing. Lemon Drizzle Cake for me and Chocolate Cremeux for Kate.
Given all they have been through, Stuart, Paul and the team at Dine have done themselves proud with The Tollhouse. It’s a unique, choc-full-of-charm restaurant which is also a safe dining choice for all occasions. (S. Wilson)
The Tollhouse, 50 Brandon Terrace, Edinburgh, EH3 5BX - 0131 224 2424.
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday Lunch 12pm-4pm; Dinner 4pm-11pm.