Aperitivo Time at Heron

Tomás Gormley and Sam Yorke, the two chefs behind the lockdown fine-dining at-home success - Bad Seeds - and more recently, Heron, the stylish restaurant on the Shore, which opened last summer, have added a new bar menu, to run alongside their current a la carte and tasting menu offerings. If like me, you are obsessed with the Stanley Tucci: Searching Italy series currently airing on BBC iPlayer, you’ll know the Italian Aperitivo is a cultural tradition that usually takes place between 18:00 and 20:00. It’s an event that serves as an appetizer to dinner with the purpose of socialising with friends while drinking sunset-hued cocktails and snacking on a selection of cheeses and salami, bruschetta and sometimes fried foods. A traditional Aperitivo drink might be an Aperol spritzer, but I decided to dive straight into a gin and tonic. Seoridh Fraser, their knowledgeable and well-travelled Bar Manager, recommended the Old Poison Selkie London Dry Gin and tonic. Old Poison is the smallest speakeasy distillery in Edinburgh founded by mixologist Fabrizio Cioffi. With its woody rooty notes, lifted by zesty citrus and a touch of spice, I wasn’t disappointed. While not necessarily Italian, Heron’s idea behind their new menu is to offer a more casual and approachable experience for food and drink enthusiasts in a more relaxed environment. And that’s exactly what my partners in crime, aka the Social Bitches and I experienced when we crossed the cultural divide to the picturesque Water of Leith to try out Heron’s new menu, in celebration of Derek’s birthday. Having previously lunched at Heron, we knew we were in for a treat, not only for an experimental and exciting menu but also for the location and their affable staff. In fact, we were having such a good time, I’m sure we outstayed our welcome. Served at their bar or their lounge areas, this menu is available from 5.30 pm to 10 pm, Wednesday – Sunday. Like their full dining experience, their bar menu still has sustainability and flavour at the core of what they offer. The portions are bite-sized but these smaller plates, of which there are 10 on offer, are reasonably priced between £3 and £10. There’s a strong nod to seafood – not great if you have an allergy, as I do – but I was still able to enjoy the Company Sour-dough served with Miso Butter, whilst my dining companions devoured their bread with Brown Crab Butter. I particularly enjoyed the Pork Belly with Kimchi and Sesame, the East Coast Cured Charcuterie and the big, fat juicy Gordal olives. If you have voracious appetites or aren’t planning dinner after, you’d probably want to order five to six each, although I was more than happy with four. Reservations aren’t necessarily required to enjoy the bar menu at Heron, but peak times on Friday and Saturday will have limited availability due to space. Once word gets out, it might be better to plan ahead. Heron, 87-91 Henderson St, The Shore, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6ED

Aperitivo Time at Heron