Rogues Restaurant, Bar, Photos, Building, Architect, Project, Images, Design, Info
Scottish Fine Dining: Rogues Restaurant Edinburgh, Eating Out in Scotland
Owner: David Ramsden
Location: by Scottish Widows, Edinburgh
Review from Sunday Herald
issued by Rogues’ PR company, talent.ed
Joanna Blytheman, respected food critic, of the Sunday Herald – gives Rogues’ an 8/10.
The surroundings are jaw-droppingly gorgeous and the food is tantalisingly delicious. David Ramsden’s new Edinburgh restaurant offers the best of both worlds.
David Ramsden is one of Edinburgh’s most original restaurateurs and his latest venture Rogues’ is typically refreshing. Large, aspiring establishments keen to attract enough diners to cover the rent and rates bill almost invariably work on a dual concept. The same kitchen supports two nominal restaurants. One is ‘fine dining’, therefore formal and expensive; the other is bistro/brasserie; therefore cheaper and more relaxed.
The economics underpinning this is that these days, there simply aren¹t enough diners who want to sit through a stuffy three-course meal all that often; or pay the consequent bill. What you wonder, though, is how the kitchen organises itself. Okay, so the posh bit gets the head chef and the brasserie gets his commis, but is, for example, the pasta in the latter less good than the pasta in the former, the meat less well-butchered, or the tomato sauce less carefully executed ?
What Ramsden has done is to combine two in one so that in the same venue, you can eat everything from an expensive fillet of beef with rosti to a good-value grilled wild mushroom, pecorino and omelette sandwich. Ramsden, a former front-of-house man at the estimable Caprice in London, is attempting to introduce a more modern Conranesque style of eating to Edinburgh, a sort of democratisation of the eating out experience where great food, and all the values that go along with it (discerning sourcing of ingredients, professional service et al) are not narrowly focused on one stiff-backed option.
Rogues’ entrance is so discreet it’s hard to find, embedded in Insurance Land, that spreading zone of mainly dull corporate architecture off Lothian Road, where Standard Life merges into Scottish Widows. At his old establishment fitzHenry in Leith Ramsden demonstrated undeniable, if eccentric style. At Rogues’, in partnership with architect Sam Booth, he has given the city its most stunning modern restaurant yet, a sweeping oval space with flowing, curvy lines, fluttering white curtains, clean steel and black lines, enriched by marquetry wood and gold and black detail. It is jaw-droppingly gorgeous.
The menu is a rag-bag, though not necessarily in a bad way, taking in items as diverse as tiger prawn kebab with piccalilli, wild boar sausages, duck and pickled cucumber on focaccia bap and tuna niçoise. Some dishes work beautifully. Into the A-grade category slotted the crab and avocado salad. The crab meat had extraordinary length of flavour and was richly creamy in the mouth. Its lemon dressing had the exhilarating scent of good virgin olive oil impregnated with volatile lemon zest then sharpened up with juice.
You¹d also have to include two fantastic desserts, a voluptuous, just-set pannacotta freckled with vanilla grains with the ultimate pink rhubarb compôte and a brilliant layered jelly of brambles, raspberries and strawberries in sharp berry sauce with blueberries. Other dishes don¹t entirely come off.
Dropping down to B-grade, there was a magnificent veal cutlet, juicy within, crustily browned outside, which came with a welcome seasonal accompaniment of delicate broad beans. This was let down by what appeared to be dried pasta that had been cooked in an overpowering saffron solution. Saffron needs a more delicate touch than this and anyway, if you want to put saffron pasta on a menu, you need to make the pasta yourself. It was also served in a bowl. Try cutting a chop in a bowl. Wok-fried chili beef squid with vegetables à la grecque didn¹t quite hang together as a dish either. The squid itself was succulent and immaculately char-grilled, a mixture of tender delicate tentacles and flatter meat scored into telephone cable curves. You could see, but not taste, the red chilli because it was one of those toned-down varieties with no heat to it, a ‘no-show’ on the Scoville unit chilli heat scale. The vegetables nicely crunchy fennel and onion were agreeable enough if too heavily vinegared.
West coast lobster was undoubtedly a prime specimen, but it was hard to taste under a heavy-handed flat parsley and garlic butter. Its asparagus and truffle salad was an expensive waste of time. Truffle needs heat to make it pungent. Overall though, the cooking is pretty good, if as yet it lacks the sure, intuitive palate for seasonings and aromatics that Hubert Lamort brought (and still brings) to fitzHenry.
Front-of-house runs beautifully and the wine list is novel, with a commendable focus on interesting options under £20. The environment is so special, you will want to linger and find reasons to eat there often.
Address: Rogues Restaurant, Morrison St, Edinburgh
rogues’s is a brave idiosyncratic interior concealed behind office block exterior, part of Scottish Widows building by BDP. For details, see Review. Dave Ramsden, the proprietor of rogues’, is Edinburgh’s Mr Cool, eclectic and off-the-cuff. Formerly of Fitzhenry’s in Leith (closed), he goes for bold unusual designs.
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