For the last couple of years, the “plan” had been for my wife and I to celebrate my 40th by visiting Tokyo.
I’d dreamed of the dazzling neon-lit cityscapes and delicate sakura; exploring the depachika, yokocho alleys and checking out the yakitori at Shimbashi; feasting on ramen; easting kaiseki, watching kabuki and avoiding karaoke.
Instead, I found myself sat on a tartan blanket in an old wood yard in Scotland…
Fortunately, the old wood yard in question was the excellent Timberyard restaurant, one of Edinburgh’s finest – the tartan blanket, part of the homely feel that the Radford family have created in their unique and special restaurant.
What Michelin say, ‘Trendy warehouse restaurant; its spacious, rustic interior incorporating wooden floors and wood-burning stoves. Scandic-influenced menu offers 'bites', 'small' and 'large' sizes, with some home-smoked dishes and an emphasis on distinct, punchy flavours. Cocktails are made with vegetable purées and foraged herbs.’
Each dish was beautifully crafted, highlighting the quality of the ingredients used - ‘supplied by small, local, artisan growers, breeders, producers, suppliers & foragers’ - the only flaws in the cooking for me were with the pigeon and pheasant back mushrooms, which both lacked the expected silky tenderness.
Highlights included a delightfully light, summery bite of ‘crab & pea’, the ‘duck heart’, the ‘sole, squid & artichoke’ dish and the stellar ‘salsify’.
The salsify, topped with the éclat, sweet mustiness of shaved black truffles was one of the finest things I’ve eaten for some time – the oyster like main component forming a wonderful synergy with the sweet, earthiness of the Jerusalem artichokes, the umami undertones of charred onion and the robust malt and hazelnut crumbs.
Bread – wholemeal sourdough with whipped butter, lovage salt & cracked black pepper with juniper.
Bite: Raw Venison, pear, toast, mustard
Bite: Duck heart, liver, mushroom buckwheat
Bite: Crab, pea, radish, sorrel
Small plate: Bass, clams, coastal herbs, cider
Small plate: Pigeon, celeriac, mushroom, tarragon
Small plate: Sole, squid, artichoke, shallot, salsify, apple, samphire
Large plate: Salsify, artichoke, truffle, onion, mushroom, hazelnut
Sweet: Raspberry, verbena, yoghurt, brioche
Coffee & petit fours