Whiskers Wine Bar
Reading between the lines, the last four and a half years have been bumpy for Whiskers. Perched on Raeburn Place it was once Henri’s. Then there were licensing issues, the pandemic – blah blah. So, the fact that they are serving such immensely good food and wine now is a triumph in so many ways.
Whiskers handle their wine list with tlc. They source from a number of suppliers and wine by the glass, carafe and bottle are presented with knowledge and affection. Front of house are very happy to chat about and recommend the perfect pairing for your food.
Several wines caught my eye but I need the right one for Pan-Fried Squid with Puy Lentil, Chorizo and Fennel followed by Seafood Risotto. Number 7, Furmint 2018 from Stajerska, Slovenia is sharp, herbaceous and complementary to my savoury food choices. It does not overpower and the number indicates the provenance of the vineyard. Eleonora on tasting my starter describes it as earthy which is spot on. Spicy warm red chorizo with toasty squid and al dente lentils.
Across the table she has Scallop Ceviche with samphire and pineapple which is tropical and delicate. Pecorino from Abruzzo is recommended due to the complementary citrus and mineral notes. For main course Eleonora has Steak & Chips and at this point I could tell you about the juicy, tender meat if it weren’t for the world’s best-ever chips. Uber crispy and fluffy in all the right places. Petite Sirah, ‘The Crusher’, from Napa is the recommendation here. It works, of course it does.
Seafood Risotto is a pure explosion of the sea. The first bite transports me to Italy and I can taste Sicilian sea spray. Chef has been confident enough to cook the rice to retain some chalky bite and slices of aged Parmesan, squid and giant meaty gambas make the dish robust. I can’t help thinking of Camilleri describing Montalbano enjoying such risotto.
Eleonora’s Eton Mess is elegant. Seasonal simplicity elevated by the care of its construction and tiny pistachio morsels hidden in the meringue are a surprise touch. Peach Tarte Tatin sees roasted whole fruit on buttery caramel pastry cooled by a scoop of melty banana ice cream. There is no way we should be able to squeeze in these dishes but resistance is futile in the face of such damned deliciousness.
We have definitely eaten too much but sure enough, as I write this review the next day, I am already thinking up an excuse for a return visit. What would I choose to eat again? Probably that risotto with a side of those chips.
If you like good food and wine, I urge you to make a reservation at Whiskers. There is a combination of influences British, Scottish, French, Italian – all cooked with the customer’s hedonistic desires in mind.
The place was buzzing. The pass frames pots, pans and busy chefs while upfront people enjoy great hospitality. We are all still basking in a post-lockdown glow. Get it while it’s hot.