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The Olive Branch
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The Olive Branch
91 Broughton Street,,
Edinburgh,
EH1 3RX
0131 557 8589
Photograpy by Simone Hilliard
Mon-Sun 11:30am – 10pm

This bistro has a way with ingredients.  They are used in abundance and a signature style gradually emerged as I lunched with my friend.  We looked at our plates and imagined a kitchen backstage heaped with colourful herbs, fruit and vegetables.  However the dishes also have balance and harmony so what may sound like a jumble of too many components actually works wonderfully.  Let me explain.

I started with the chickpea and lentil cake with a mango and radish salsa (£5.25) and my friend chose the special of scallops with lime and ginger beurre blanc, radish and cucumber (£6.50). The scallops were glossy, soft queenies and Simone commented that none of the accompanying ingredients overpowered either the bivalves or each other. Rather the whole dish was subtle, balanced and mellow. My cakes were a little dry but helped by the Puy lentils mixing with perfumed mango, fresh peppery rocket and further down amongst the foliage, flecks of red chilli.

For main course Simone chose braised shin of beef with a tomato ragoût, gremolata and buttered mash (£13.95). The meat was rich and soft and the ragout had Moroccan inspiration, sweet and spicy and lots of dark green herbs for colour. I chose the courgette, basil, pine nut and ricotta tart with Jersey royals and rocket salad (£10.95). The courgettes were cooked nicely al dente and mingled with creamy cheese and moreish puff pasty. Attention to detail in all the dishes was apparent, for example, my leaves had a fine mustard dressing.  Chef obviously has a flair for flavour combinations and quantities.  It is very skilfully done.

We were definitely up for dessert and I chose the dark and white chocolate cherry brownie with coconut ice cream and Simone had the rhubarb and ginger crème brûlée (both £5.25). My brownie was nicely squidgy, full of cocoa and sour cherries; summer fruits and Luca's ice cream were sublime accompaniments.  Simone said her brûlée was light and delicately flavoured.

I hadn't been to The Olive Branch for anything more than a coffee and snack in recent years. I had got used to it being there on its sunny corner site and taken it for granted. A mistake! This bistro is worthy of more attention. (S. Wilson)

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