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The Scottish Cafe
The Scottish Cafe
National Gallery of Scotland,
The Mound ,,
City Centre,
EH2 2EL
[View Map]
0131 226 6524

Fresh, simple, Scottish ...
THIS IS THE MANTRA THAT STEERED VICTOR AND CARINA CONTINI, (THE BRAINS BEHIND CENTOTRE AND ZANZERO), WHEN THEY WON THE CONTRACT TO CATER AT THE SCOTTISH CAFÉ THIS YEAR. THEIR VISION WAS FOR A MENU THAT PRESERVED SCOTTISH CULINARY HERITAGE WHILST USING THE PRODUCE OF THE BEST SCOTTISH SUPPLIERS.

We visited on a rainy Sunday to see for ourselves. To start I chose the venison carpaccio with rocket and shaved Loch Arthur cheddar (£7.95) and Mr Bite chose Cullen skink (4.95). My garnet-coloured venison was juicy and tender, the peppery leaves and salty cheese mixed well and a drizzle of golden rapeseed oil completed this simple, flavoursome dish; much better than the slightly flat presentation promised. Mr Bite fared less well with his soup. Although the haddock flavour was strong we both prefer a heartier, rustic version of this Scottish classic. It was too smooth and refined for our taste.

Our main dishes however, swiftly raised the bar. For me, roast pheasant with pickled red cabbage and a mixed leaf salad (£13.95) and for Mr Bite a show-stopper of steamed organic salmon in a mussel, razor clam and shallot broth (£13.95). The pheasant was earthy, and well-seasoned, the cabbage was fruity and the leaves sprightly which all made for a deliciously, seasonal winter dish. Mr Bite's salmon was divinely flavoursome and melt-in-the-mouth. The razor clams had a wonderful firm texture permeated with the taste of the sea and the broth was creamy and full of fresh herbs, clams and mussels; the very best of Scottish seafood.

For cheese we had a choice of three boards, the 'Dunedin', the 'Pentland' or the 'Thistle' (small £6.95, large £9.95). We plumped for the Pentland which featured Loch Arthur cheddar, Criffel, Lanark Blue and Carola. They were served with a dish of stewed autumn fruit and mini-oatcakes and were very good. There are plenty of good wines to complement the cheese or (if brave) you can try Humphrey Errington's Fallachan.

It's a no-brainer that given its location this restaurant should showcase Scottish produce and celebrate the classics. The presence of the menu of butteries and marmalade bread and butter pudding are just two of the many dishes that secure plenty of return visits from us.

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