Eleanore

Past the Turkish kebab shops and barbers, past Harburn Hobbies and Vittoria – I trundle down Leith Walk on a dreary Monday night in January before ducking into the incongruously elegant Eleanore on Albert Place This wine bar is the former site of and still under the tutelage of The Little Chartroom (relocated to Bonnington Road). I have seldom felt a warmer welcome. Offers of coats and bags to be hung on discreet hooks in nooks of white brickwork. How has your day been? a bit frazzled. Explanation of the wine menu and an offer to try a sip of the ‘Uivo Curtido’, an orange Moscatel from the Douro with minimal intervention. I decided on the Crémant d'Alsace but will return to the orange wine before the night is out. I will return to the Crémant too. As the day’s tensions dissolve, I look around. Candlelight warms white walls, while simple ergonomics (menus are on grip rails on the wall like those used on kitchen passes) and artfully placed ferns create a clean Nordic feel. Usually, I hate loud music but the pumping 70s/80s soundtrack here creates an upbeat, joyful atmosphere. Service is attentive and knowledgeable as we sample several dishes. The bar is intimate enough that the chef sometimes brings said dishes to our table and explains them. Slender fillets of Cured Halibut are at repose on a plate and are garnished with ‘eyes’ of spicy, citrus orange Kosho. We roll them up as if eating herrings. Flatbreads are ironically super-puffy and served fresh and glistening from the pan with complex flavoured Duck Liver Parfait and Salted Redcurrant. My favourite dish is Hash Browns, XO (seafood sauce not brandy) Marie Rose, Hispi, Brown Shrimp but only with a gun to my head because BBQ King Oyster, Matake, Celeriac and Shitake Borderlaise is as satisfying as steak and oozes umami from every gill. To serve the fungi with such a decadent sauce of red wine, marrow and butter, is clever. This is cooking ‘beyond my ken Jim’. I can't pinpoint every ingredient and technique employed, but I do know these dishes require skill, imagination, preparation and commitment. The atmosphere, however, is fun rather than sacred. I glance into the kitchen and spot the chef crossing and sharpening his knives in time to “Night Fever”. Meanwhile, on this side of the pass, 'front-of-house' perform a balletic reading of the room. The five glasses of wine I drink are unplanned for a Monday night but no regrets. Orange wine is floral with a wild edge. The Crémant is full of toasty brioche and complements our shared dessert plate of Tirami-Choux. We try two intriguing Reds, a Xinomavro from Greece (2019) and a Syrah from Chile (2016) both are good, the latter is silkier. Wines are not published on the website as the bar changes the extensive list often. Eleanore delivered a wildcard night out of joyous gastronomic sampling. Covers are minimal so booking is advised. Eleanore 17 Albert Place, Edinburgh, EH7 5HN

Eleanore