Edinburgh Eats: Southside Scran

Tom Kitchin’s fourth Edinburgh wean, the youngest of the bunch, recently opened in Bruntsfield and let me say straight off the bat, it’s a bloody delight. I’ve been to three of his restaurants in Edinburgh now and I reckon this one’s going to be a regular haunt. Scran & Scallie is much more relaxed dining (read: children roaming free), The Kitchin is a proper special treat (read: I spent over £350 on Jamie’s birthday tea there once…) but Southside Scran is a wonderful ‘in-between’ with a French bistro vibe. I’ve not made it to Castle Terrace yet but Tam, if you’re reading this, yes absolutely we’d love to come for dinner on you – how very generous.

This is a double review in one so I’ve titled each. You may skip ahead for ‘Date Night’ but I’d recommend starting with ‘Boozy Lunch’…

Boozy Lunch

Back in December I had my annual Christmas ‘lunch’ with the girls which starts at 1ish and this year ended with us passed out into our chicken nuggets at 9ish, with only being asked to leave Wetherspoons once… We managed to start off the day with at least some class by having lunch at Southside. Nicole summed up the extensive wine list by muttering ‘mate there’s definitely not any prosecco here’ but we opted for a light, white and I’ll be honest I can’t for the life of me remember which one it was but I reckon it was the second cheapest on the menu for a bottle – I said ‘some class’…

We ordered the sharing rotisserie whole roast chicken and selected an array of sides, going for the French bean salad, beets, orange & feta, macaroni cheese and fondant potatoes with confit garlic & spring onions. We were of course starving, as per usual, and when the server said it would be about 40 minutes because they roast each one individually on the open grill (which you can see in the restaurant!) she immediately met the panic on our faces and cries of ‘bread?!’ with a promise of ‘bread and bits’.

The warm bread arrived with a little pot of chicken pâté topped with a calvados jelly, some deliciously soft butter on a tiny wooden board and a pot of the freshest, crunchiest little cornichons. The only small irk I have with the whole place is that they don’t give side plates for the bread and although its casual dining, there were crumbs everywhere on the table which I kept finding myself sweeping into little piles to tidy up.

The chicken arrived much quicker than we expected and by this point the wine had hit my stomach. I don’t think we spoke much until our cutlery went down. The chicken was so moist, in the most delicious herby, rich gravy. The bunch of herbs in the dish did feel a little ‘cleansing bad spirits’ but whatever, it tasted great. The chicken and four sides was a perfect amount for the three of us for lunch, if you had it for dinner I reckon you’d also have room for starters and puddings.

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We finished up our meal with some cocktails. Rachael had a ‘Mint Condition’, white chocolate Hendrick’s Gin, Branca Menta, Crème de Cacao, cream & sweet chestnut. Nicole had a ‘Cigar Old Fashioned’ with Smoked Monkey Shoulder Whisky, honeycomb, Angostura Bitters & orange bitters and I went for the ‘Southside’, Tanqueray No. Ten gin, Fino sherry, lemon, lime, mint gomme, fresh mint & cucumber foam. It was a delightfully bright green so I’m definitely pretending it was some kind of health-cocktail.

Our bill came to a ridiculously good £96, which is only £32/head before tip, for wine, lunch and cocktails. Add in attentive but casual service, delicious bread that kept being refilled and cocktails that didn’t take 45 years to come, I’d say that’s a bloody bargain.

Date Night

Since we spent my birthday/hogmanay in the house, Jamie and I decided that we’d book Southside Scran for a late birthday tea on the 1st of January, his treat. I’ve never left the house on the 1st, never mind got dressed up for a nice dinner, but it was a wonderful way to start the year.

Having been before, I knew what to expect in terms of service etc, but after being seated near the door/next to the bar, I had to do the thing I used to hate when I was a server. I asked if we could move. I held my breath but needn’t have bothered, it was not a problem and we found ourselves whisked off into a cosy, corner table. We ordered a couple of glasses of wine and I let Jamie pick for me since he’s more of an expert. My general wine opinion is; ‘is it wet? is it cold? is it ABC?’ The ABC rule for those unaware, is something my mother taught me early on in life – ‘anything but chardonnay’. I had a glass of the Loire Valley Sancerre and Jamie went for the Picpoul du Pinet.

We wired into the tasty bread and ‘surprises’ as our lovely waiter described them. I didn’t have the heart to say I’d been before so I did a great fake ‘oooh’ when they arrived. He was delighted, give me an Oscar. We passed on starters but next time I pop in (Mum & Dad, fancy it?) I definitely want to try the game pithivier, mostly because I watched someone make one on Masterchef the other day and it looked tasty. I ordered the pork belly with apple sauce and Jamie went for the cajun spiced North Sea monkfish tail. We shared a French bean salad, some fondant potatoes (so good) and the pumpkin & Jerusalem artichoke.

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That pork belly. It was everything I wanted it to be and more. Crispy crackling on top which was sticky underneath and wrapped itself around my teeth. A layer of melting fat, which really should be disgusting when you think about it, was keeping the pork so soft and juicy. The sides of it had a little bite to them and honestly, I wanted to be left alone with it, it was that good. The apple sauce was light, not too sweet and a little sweep of it lifted the pork in each mouthful. Christ I’m slaverin’ just writing this. Jamie’s fish smelt incredible and looked really meaty. I’m about to ask him to describe it for the blog, here you go…

“The fish was very meaty with the tail bone in the middle which definitely gave it more flavour. It was cooked perfectly and the sauce was gently spiced, creamy and really good. Maybe the best monkfish dish I’ve ever had.”

We made a deal to squeeze in a shared pudding, but when the menu arrived and of course after I’d insta-stalked the desserts, we ended up with one each. I had the chocolate tart with milk ice cream and Jamie had the signature rotisserie pineapple with rum sauce. For a man who loves booze, this was his ideal pud. A thick slice of hot pineapple with a sticky, strong rum sauce and a dollop of vanilla ice cream – oooh it’d warm a Tory. My chocolate tart was a light texture and dark-chocolately enough to let me eat almost the whole thing without it being sickly, but not too dark that you’re drawing your cheeks with each bit. Milk ice cream was a new one to me but it was really light and a perfect pal to the chocolate.

We didn’t carry on to cocktails, favouring a trip to a nearby pub for some pints and games afterwards. The bill was again, ridiculously reasonable even though Jamie ordered me a £19 glass of wine…

Visit their website here to book online and see the full menu.

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