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Chessell’s - unpretentious Canongate restaurant
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Chessell's
240 Canongate,
Edinburgh,
EH8 8DQ
0131 556 5300

Getting a reservation on a Friday night in Edinburgh was proving a bit of a chore. Unanswered messages, full restaurants, squeezed sittings I was about to throw in the towel. Then my inbox pinged. Would I like to try out the new Chessell’s on Canongate? Sure - especially as the owner is previously of The Apartment.

This unpretentious restaurant opened last year. A sign with the new name covers the previous one for Edinburgh stalwart Pancho Villas. The cantina feel remains in the big, bright restaurant.

Eleonora was sipping a Negroni when I arrived, which she described as delicate.

A glance at the menu revealed a variety of small plates, vegan and vegetarian options, a tempting dessert menu and crowd-pleasing mains like fish 'n' chips and burgers. Considering location prices are competitive.

I had some juicy seared Pigeon for my starter. The meat was pink and moreish. Toasted walnuts, spiralized celery and date pieces dotted the plate although the advertised Stilton was missing.

Eleonora had Surf 'n' Turf – garlic prawns (could have been more garlicky) and beef carpaccio.

We agreed produce was good, but my salad needed something to bring it together (dressing, oil, vinaigrette?) alongside attention to presentation perhaps with better crockery. The white rectangular plates didn’t flatter the food; ditto clunky wines glasses. Placement of ingredients on the plates could also be addressed in the interests of the genuine, fresh food.
The Shooter's Game Pie was excellent, comprising pigeon, partridge, hare and venison. A combination of meats that coated the mouth with flavour. Parsnip mash and carrots were sweet and homemade brown sauce fruity. I loved it. Eleonora said her rare-cooked steak was juicy, tender and delicious, especially for the price; grilled red pepper was a tasty twist.

Desserts were a bit wow! I had already noted the next table's Affogato sailing past. Glass of ice cream, thick espresso and Patron Tequila but I chose Opera Cake. On the side, whipped icing sugar and coconut milk made a 'cream' which had the texture of squidgy Italian meringue.

Eleonora was delighted to see fruit on a Scottish dessert menu, Red Wine and Saffron Poached Fruits with Jostaberry Sorbet. This time presented beautifully in a simple white bowl that let the colours shine.

We felt Chessells was a bit confused. I am sure it will develop into a kitchen style gastropub with good food but we it stands it lacks personality. I would pop into for a quick supper if passing or if organizing for a group. Staff were super -friendly. Check out the cocktails too. (Mrs Bite).  

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