Thursday, 31 October 2013

Dinner at Michael Neave Kitchen and Whisky Bar

Michael Neave Kitchen and Whisky Bar in Edinburgh was opened just last year by a young Scottish chef of the same name, but already the establishment oozes years of experience in fine dining. Tucked away just off the Royal Mile the cobblestone street is easy to miss when it is dark and drizzling, as it so often is in Scotland, but a sign on High Street helpfully points guests in the right direction.

The premises are split over two levels, with the whisky bar on the ground floor and the restaurant situated one level down. While the latter doesn't comprise of a huge space, the interior is modern and tight, reflecting the style and quality of the dishes served. There's also a lovely little dining area in the back of the establishment for parties who want a little more privacy.


As soon as we opened the menus we were impressed, and not just by the appetising courses on offer. Comprising of only two pages the menus are made of a beautifully polished wood, making them seem luxurious and different from the norm. Our interest was instantly piqued and as we read the diverse range of dishes we could chose from this only increased.

Both myself and my guest opted for the West Coast scallops and pork belly served with celeriac purée for a starter, which was just as inviting as it sounds. While I loved the tender pork belly, which was complimented well by the purée, I thought the scallops were ever so slightly underdone. My friend however was full of praise for the dish, and we both agreed it was a very generous portion for a starter.


For our mains we each tried something different with various success. My friend's venison was perfectly cooked, but the combination with the two sauces that were supposed to compliment the dish didn't work, making it too sweet and syrupy overall.

I opted for the duck breast with red cabbage and potato fondant and couldn't have been more pleased with my choice. It was beautifully presented, the duck was cooked to scrumptious perfection and it went really well with the cabbage and potato.


As both courses had been generous in size we were satisfyingly full at this stage but we couldn't resist the temptation of a dessert, even if it was just for a bite or two, as they all sounded so delectable. When my guest ordered the white chocolate fondant and was told this would take a little while to get ready I was silently pleased as it meant that I could let my meal settle before starting on the final course.


My friend was very happy with the fondant and said it was certainly worth waiting for. In fact, she went as far as to call it "divine". I opted for the French toast with meringue, ice-cream and pears, which made for a perfectly refreshing finish.

After the meal we were given a small plate with delicate chocolates, which was a really nice and unexpected touch to an already pleasant evening.


The service on the night was of a high standard. From what we could gather there was a waiter available for each table making the attention personal and approachable, yet not too overwhelming as so easily can be the case.

Having said that, this may have just looked this way because it was very quiet on the Friday night we visited, which inevitably meant that despite the otherwise intimate setting the eatery was slightly lacking in atmosphere. This is not the restaurant's fault, however, but perhaps rather a combination of it still being quite new and unknown as well as its slightly hidden location in Edinburgh's Old Town - hopefully word of mouth will generate some much deserved buzz.

The food on offer at the restaurant is diverse, excellent quality, well-presented and great value for the price; it truly felt like fine dining, but without the hefty check at the end of the meal.

Michael Neave Kitchen And Whisky Bar, 21 Old Fishmarket Close, City of Edinburgh EH1 1RW, Scotland.

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