Great Places to Eat in Scotland
- Stockbridge Restaurant, Edinburgh

The Location
The quirky, Bohemian, village atmosphere of Stockbridge, just a ten minute stroll from George Street, is a great place for shop browsing by day and eat and drink by night. Around a maze of cobbled streets it's a marketplace for antiques and quality gifts, speciality food (Italian bakery, Ian Mellis cheese), kitchen design studios, art galleries, boutiques and second hand clothes shops. Along St. Stephen Street, you'll find coffee shops, delis, traditional pubs and contemporary wine bars. And right in the centre, down a couple of well worn stone steps past the ornamental trees and plant pots, there is the award winning Stockbridge Restaurant. It first opened in 2000, created by the actress, writer and celebrity chef, Juliet Lawrence Wilson (then aged just 25). Having successfully established the restaurant, the baton (or paring knife) was passed on to Jason Gallagher, who took over in 2004.

The Restaurant
The setting of the Stockbridge Restaurant is just perfect. An intimate, hideaway cavern, which has been artistically transformed into an elegant, cosy dining room. Bold, slate-grey walls are complemented by huge prints of the Scottish Colourists, Peploe and Cadell, featuring 1920s fashionable women in hats and tall vases of tulips, as well as gilt mirrors to reflect light from the windows. Sit on gold brocade chairs at white linen wrapped tables. The atmosphere changes from day to night. It's a smart casual place for lunch - business or pleasure. Then by night with candles and soft lighting, it's a glamorous and romantic spot for dinner.

Jason Gallagher has experienced the very best of training. He worked for two years at Martins restaurant in Leith, under chef Martin Irons, before deciding it was time to open his own establishment. As Chef/ Proprietor, Gallagher runs and manages the Stockbridge Restaurant with his partner, Jane Walker and a small staff. The Stockbridge Restaurant has been awarded a Gold grading by the Edinburgh Restaurateurs association leading to being voted joint winner in the Fine Dining category.

The Food
Jason's cuisine is modern European, focusing on Scottish ingredients and selected dishes on the menu change daily according to the market and season. The a la carte dinner menu has a choice of five starters and five main courses. Each dish is clearly described, written in almost poetic speech to reflect the personal care and passion Gallagher puts into his cooking. Pan Seared Venison loin, with Parma ham, celeriac puree, red onion marmalade and a port wine jus may sound like over egging the pudding but it's well balanced and, as familiar partners, the spicy/sweet flavours of the marmalade complement the rich meaty game well.

Alternatively, try melt in the mouth, flaky fishcakes - made with organic Shetland salmon - given a lively zing with avocado salsa and lemon dressing. For vegetarians, a Goat's Cheese and pistachio nut Terrine with black olive tapenade. Sounds tasty.

For the main event, there is usually a choice of fish, perhaps Grilled Wild Halibut with spinach, oyster mushrooms, hash browns and to top it all, a quail egg, with an Arran mustard sauce. Again a creative culinary combination. Premier produce such as Buccleuch Beef and Gressingham Duck breast are both given the gourmet treatment with a feast of accompaniments. For something different I recommend the Butternut Squash Risotto, with parmesan flakes and truffle oil. A sheer ambrosial delight. As well as squash cooked into the rice, there were tiny, tender slithers sitting on top. The drizzled oil made the risotto softer, more like rice pudding - and I mean that as a compliment. For dessert, indulge in a real pudding - Plum and nut crumble with cinnamon, and a dollop of ice cream, or a tempting Banana Tart Tatin with butterscotch sauce. If you prefer a savoury end to the meal, there's a platter of Ian Mellis cheese (from the shop around the corner).

As well as the a la carte menu, there is a set menu, (Tuesday to Friday) featuring two choices per course. Excellent value, as is the two or three course Lunch menu.

Stockbridge Restaurant is not just for grown-up foodies - bring the children for lunch on the first Sunday of every month for a Tots taster menu at just £6.95. New for 2007, this innovative concept is already proving a great success. The kids have a mini gourmet feast while the adults can enjoy a slap up Sunday lunch too.

The Bill
Contactthe Stockbridge Restaurant Web site for current menu and prices.

Further Information
Stockbridge Restaurant is at 54 St Stephen Street, Stockbridge, Edinburgh. For reservations, telephone . 0131 226 6766. See also the Stockbridge Restaurant Web site.

Local residents around the New Town and Stockbridge are extremely fortunate to have this exceptional fine dining restaurant on their doorstep. While the imaginative dishes are memorable, it's the charming, romantic ambience which gives it a real touch of class and glamour. For a special lunchtime treat (for business men or ladies who lunch) it's a relaxing venue away from the city centre buzz. For dinner with friends or an intimate table for two, there's a real French bistro ambience about the place. The special offers are the ideal opportunity to give it a try.

Vivien Devlin
April 2007

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