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Michael Neave Kitchen and Whisky Bar
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Michael Neave Kitchen and Whisky Bar
21 Old Fishmarket Close,
Old Town,
Midlothian,
Edinburgh,
EH1 1RW
0131 226 4747
By Lea Harris

It's a brave chef who opens his own place with years of experience under his knife. It's even braver when a 21 year old decides to the same, but that's exactly what talented chef, Michael Neave has done.

 

Not the easiest of places to promote, halfway down Old Fishmarket Close, it's had its vicissitudes in previous guises and under other ownerships, but Neave is determined to make a success of his venture. We sit in the upstairs bar and ponder over the menu. There's more than a nod to Scotland's bountiful larder - scallops, game, Aberdeen Angus from John Gilmour, Borders lamb and the odd touch of whisky to the dishes too.

 

Decisions made, we are escorted downstairs to our table. The interior is stark, nothing that a few big pictures wouldn't sort out.

 

We nibble on warm homemade sundried tomato rolls as we wait for pigeon and figs (£7.50) for BOGG and I headed straight towards the ravioli of North Berwick lobster and crab served in its own bisque (£7.50). My dish was never going to win any beauty competitions, but it didn't matter. The ravioli was cooked perfectly and the crab certainly jumped in with both claws. The bisque, more like a velouté, was deep chestnut in colour; rich and crabbily savoury in taste that unfortunately wiped out the delicate lobster. The pigeon was glorious in its reduced jus. The meat was juicily pink and the fig added a sweetness that worked with the bird.

 

I love my game and I wasn't disappointed by my roe deer (£15.25), cooked rare as ordered. The unusual combination of carrots with lavender will be hitting our plates at home. I thought it was innovative. The duck (£14.90), again cooked perfectly (many a time it's over cooked) and Neave shows a real talent of understanding and the execution for cooking meat. Unfortunately the dish is let down by an undercooked rosti, a real shame. The sauce was confusing as the menu stated lemon and thyme but in actuality was lemon and lavender, which the duck couldn't take.

 

 Now for dessert! Soufflés (£6.95) are temperamental and has seen many a chef near tears as it sinks more quickly than the Titanic. But not here. It arrives, golden, pert and with a slight swagger. The plum could be more pronounced with an addition of a spiced sauce of some description rather than biscotti. BOGG goes for the sea buckthorn and rose parfait (£5.95); a difficult ingredient for many chefs - we have seen them flounder on the various TV cookery competitions. Neave has mastered the art of this tricky berry. The parfait is refreshingly sharp as well as creamy and the jelly has the correct wobbliness.

 

I have to admire this young man, and with a few tweaks, I can see a great future for him.

(L. Harris)

 

 

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