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Howies, Waterloo Place Branch
29 Waterloo Place,
[View Map]
0131 556 5766 ý
Lunch Sun-Fri 12 noon -2.30 pm, Sat 12 noon-3pm & Dinner Mon - Sun 5.30-10pm

February 2011


In recent years Edinburgh's gastronomic spotlight has fallen on two types of restaurant. Those in the 'fine-dining' category, all 'paint', 'pearls' , plenty of swirls and no knickers, and more modest establishments providing an unpretentious 'spot of supper'. Between the two lay a plethora of mid-range restaurants serving dishes constructed from excellent local produce, executed well and priced fairly. Howies foodie feet are firmly planted in this camp.


'The dowager' and I found ourselves at the Waterloo branch recently and were impressed. I started with the crayfish cocktail (£4.95) made with crème fraiche, less cloying and lighter than 'mayo'. Lots of cayenne gave fiery kick and a squirt of lemon, sharpness. The crimson crayfish were, plump, meaty and plentiful. It was excellent and I washed in down with a Furstenberg Frei (brownie points duly awarded).  The dowager liked her apple and parsnip soup (£3.45) also. The fruit cut the vegetable sweetness nicely and she declared it a soup 'par excellence!


Next up was oven-roasted breast of pheasant wrapped in smoky bacon with Stornoway black pudding duxelle, celeriac mash, and beetroot and orange 'slaw' for me (£14.05) and grilled fillet of bream served on baled polenta cake with lemon, char-grilled courgettes and a smoked tomato coulis for her nibs (£14.95). I could see the fish was excellent by its shiny skin and moist, flaky flesh. The polenta was citrusy and the sauce intense. My pheasant was cooked intelligently so that it remained moist and was complemented by the earthy vegetables, blood oranges with purple beets, glossy emerald spinach, creamy celeriac puree; an epitome of winter colour and seasonal taste.


Desserts were a retro pear Belle Hélène for me and an apple and plum crumble (£4.50) for the dowager. She was under-whelmed and I half agree. Buttery nuggets of crumble which she disliked I thought were good but the fruit had stewed a tad too long. My pear by contrast had just the correct level of firm sweetness. Poached in white wine it had the dreamiest champagne colour. Chocolate sauce, ice cream, a sprig of mint and dusting of cocoa and icing sugar made it as attractive as the rest of the evening's dishes.


Fine food indeed.

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