Très yum at Cafe Marlayne
By Sharon Wilson Mr Bite is sporting his Eagles of Death Metal tee for our visit to this French Bistro on cobbled Thistle Street. Paris is close to our hearts and our stomachs and you could easily think you were there given the cosy charm of this authentic eatery. Anxious to eat we order bloody mary mussels (£5.80) for him and warm salad of caramelised figs and oranges; fennel seeds, rocket, oregano and goats cheese (£5.80) pour moi. Sweet tomatoes and a vodka kick are de rigeur for the mussels but the smokiness of the Tabasco is an additional and unexpected triumph. My salad is soft and warm and sweet with top notes of aromatic herbs. For mains I choose Gressingham duck breast with burnt apple puree, salt and pepper chestnuts sweet potato fondant and a cider and maple syrup glaze (£16.90). The French seem to have an affinity with duck and chesnuts are one of the joys of winter, their dry texture contrasting well with the juicy duck and fruity sauce. Mr Bite has whole baked sea bass with a tandoori rub, tomato, cashew nuts and coriander (£14.70).A walloping fish with lots of creamy flesh on the bone. We expected good cooking from Café Marlayne but the very competitive price tag to boot is a pleasant surprise.
Drinks are good too. There is a nicely thought out bistro wine list and Mr Bite is always happy when good local beer is on offer. He is becoming quite the expert on food and beer matching and his black IPA goes really well with the smoky mussels.
For pudding I have the cutest Tonka Bean crème brûlée; golden brittle, thick custard, heady vanilla - a dessert classique and always a winner with me (£3.50). Mr Bite has baked vanilla and honey cheesecake (£4.50). I feel (quite strongly), that the emphasis in cheesecake should be on the cheese rather than on refined sugar and this one fits the bill. It is sweet too though, drenched as it is, in delicious natural honey.
Café Marlayne is a charming cosy bistro which is well worth a visit or two. Transport yourselves to Pigalle or Marat. Très yum. (S. Wilson) Cafe Marlayne 76 Thistle St, Edinburgh, EH2 1EN 0131 226 2230 7 Days