|La Garrigue (courtesy of the restaurant's website).|
Located a stone's throw from Waverley Station, on Jeffery Street, this bistro has been a fixture on the Edinburgh gastronomic scene for 12 years. It specialises in the cuisine of the Languedoc (or 'Le Midi') region of France, hence the name which references to the aromatic, herb-dominated scrubland common to the area. So shunning yet another sharp April shower, JML and I were greeted by the restaurant's welcoming French waiters and seated in front of the bistro’s huge picture windows that provide stunning views of Calton Hill.
Within a couple of minutes of the menus being delivered to us we were asked if we would like an aperitif. Now in my book, this is always a good start to dinner, and quite typical of Mediterranean dining. So sipping 'un pousse rapier' - a sort of champagne cocktail - and a nicely chilled Muscat sec, we made our dining choices. Not an easy task as, going by the dish descriptions, everything on the menu seemed inviting.
JML chose to start with the pig's head 'fromage' accompanied by a gribiche sauce. A very inviting slab of succulent terrine arrived which was moist and full with rich pork flavour. The creamy, eggy sauce that accompanied it - sharpened by capers, tarragon and cornichons - made for an excellent counterpoint to the meat. My first course choice of 'traditional' fish soup with croutons and rouille was every bit as good as I had hoped for - a dark vermilion bowl of intense seafood tastes that could have come straight from a Mediterranean port, paired with crisp toasted bread slices and home-made saffron mayonnaise.
|Beef cheek with parsnip purée.|
|Rabbit stuffed with walnuts and a liver.|
The rising heat levels and elements of the final course provided the only low-point to the evening, yet these things are all relative. My tarte au citron was very nicely presented - an inviting slice of lemony tart surrounded by a scattering of raspberries and saffron meringue, with a tangy jus. It was just the right pudding for someone who doesn't have an overly sweet tooth. JML's dessert was, by contrast, a bit of a let-down. A crème brûlée with lavender, it looked great and the custard was smooth with just enough lavendery hint to hit the palette. But it was tepid as opposed to hot; despite the caramel topping being so well cooked it was difficult to crack. And I'm sorry to say that the tuile biscuit that accompanied the brûlée had more in common
|Delicious tarte au citron.|
A few minor quibbles aside, all things considered we had a most enjoyable evening at La Garrigue. The service is knowledgeable and warmly proficient – though we did have to request the bill twice - and, at its best, the food provides a delicious flavour of the Languedoc.
I'd happily return to this ray of southern French culinary sunshine again - but maybe next time sporting fewer Scottish winter woollens...
Food - 7/10
Value - 7/10
Ambience - Expect a venue with a bistro ambience.