Archive for October, 2021

Restaurant Review: The Elder, Bath (Nov 2021)

Posted on: October 31st, 2021 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

Elegant, sophisticated and beautiful is how one might describe Bath’s South Parade. The Elder Restaurant, housed in Hotel Indigo, forms a distinguished part of this range of newly restored Georgian townhouses.

The same epithets could justifiably be applied to the cooking of Gavin Edney, Group Head Chef of the Elder and its sister restaurants, The Woodsman in Stratford Upon Avon and The Forge in Chester. Inspired to open this new restaurant in Bath, Mike Robinson, restaurateur and a leading authority on wild food and game has collaborated with Gavin to produce an appealing repertoire of dishes that adhere to the group’s “Field to Plate” philosophy, with its emphasis on ethical sustainability, wild food, seasonality and locality.

Knowledge of provenance and good relations are essential prerequisites for engaging high-quality producers of meat, fish, game and wild food.  As Robinson says, “We know the farmers, the foragers and the fishermen. Our own Huntsman manages wild deer over large estates.” These ingredients are transformed with great skill and care into the select menu of The Elder.

The main carte features four starters, five mains, four puddings and a cheese option. Prices are realistic given the excellent quality of the ingredients – the provenance of which is acknowledged on the menu – and the skill and creativity of the cooking.

With a CV that includes experience at Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s, the Galvin Restaurants and most recently head chef at André Garrett at Cliveden, Taplow, Gavin’s reputation as a master in the kitchen is beyond doubt. Meat, game and fish are precisely timed and rested to optimise flavour and texture. Combinations of seasonal ingredients are well-balanced, so the main element is never overwhelmed by the accompaniments. Saucing is a particular strength, enhancing the overall impact of the dish. The presentation is clean and portions are generous.

The venue where his food is enjoyed is a series of four rooms of different sizes and covers, with a maximum for 70 covers combined. The main dining room has 14 covers. The green panels, lined with paintings of horse racing and jockeys give the feel of a traditional gentleman’s club. Leather banquettes, metal candelabra, heavy drapes, wall lights and strip lighting enhance this feel. The wooden tables are undressed but well-spaced. 

Fine Dining Guide visited on a weekday evening in October to sample the autumn menu.

Homemade granary bread had a crisp crust with a nutty, rich taste and nobbly texture. It was served with Chew Valley butter from a Jersey cow. Accompanying this was a small glass of bullshot, made from beef and venison stock, black pepper and chilli, an unusual but warming opening to a cold evening’s dinner.

The first course featured a tartare of sea bream. The clean taste and delicate flavour of the dense, juicy white flesh was enhanced by the gentle acidity of tomatillo and moderated by the sweetness of the apple. Dashi gave the dish an umami lift and dots of taramasalata a creamy richness. Completed with squid ink and tapioca crisp, which balanced the softer elements, this was a brilliantly conceived and beautifully executed dish.

The following warm seafood dish combined classic and contemporary elements. Plump baked Fowey river mussels with a mild taste and tender chewiness were shrouded in a well-seasoned velouté. Topped with baked sourdough crumb, chives with their mild onion taste and nori dust which added a subtle sea flavoured umami touch, these contrasting ingredients balanced the creamy richness of the velouté. Accompanied by a Falmouth Bay seaweed baguette to mop up the juices, this was another highly satisfying dish.

A main course of nose-to-tail fallow deer perfectly exemplified the restaurant’s commitment to sustainability, wild food, seasonality and its field to plate philosophy.  Venison comes from the Bathurst estate, where the group‘s Huntsman oversees the ethical management of the deer before being processed in the group’s FSA regulated larder. Full justice to the animal was achieved by the accurate medium-rare timing of the haunch and loin which ensured their maximum flavour and meltingly soft texture.

Heartier additions were afforded by a flavoursome faggot of the offal and offcuts and a tasty “Hunter’s pie” of venison mince topped with golden piped mashed potato. Charred Brussel sprouts gave a mild smokiness offset of the sweetness of parsnip stuffed with blackberry compote and fennel pollen, while everything was bought together by lip-smacking red wine sauce flavoured with juniper. The meticulous attention to detail, the clean presentation and the generous portions added to the success of this memorable dish.  After the heights reached by the savoury courses, the anti-climax of desserts, so often a disappointment even in high-end restaurants, did not occur: the same refined skill, care and attention were evident throughout.

A blackberry tart of superfine, crisp pastry encased the poached fruit, salted crushed almonds and a vanilla cream topped with an intense quenelle of smooth blackberry sorbet. The combination of contrasting textures, flavours and temperatures demonstrated the consummate skill of the pastry section.

Equally accomplished was the warm wild damson soufflé. For this much-underrated autumn fruit with its sweet and sour taste, a souffle was a perfect vehicle to demonstrate its versatility. Soft and fluffy in the middle and well risen, it was topped, amazingly, with a disc of shortbread which did not cause it to deflate. Bay leaf ice cream, with its subtle, slightly floral flavour and silky texture, was a well-chosen accompaniment.

Mini doughnuts and good coffee completed an outstanding meal, one enhanced by the seamless, knowledgeable service of Christian who waited at my table.

Having opened after lockdown, with all the problems associated with suppliers, the restaurant is making progress in achieving consistency of product, so vital for success. Clearly, in Gavin Edney, it has a chef of distinction who will see it go from strength to strength. Fine Dining Guide hopes to return to The Elder and will follow its progress with interest.

Restaurant Review: Wedgwood, Edinburgh (Oct 2021)

Posted on: October 13th, 2021 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

Located on Canongate, part of the southern section of the Royal Mile, Wedgwood is one of Edinburgh’s long-standing fine dining restaurants. For fourteen and a half years it has satisfied the ever-changing demands of a discerning clientele. The modest exterior belies a spacious air-conditioned dining room of 44 covers. Recently refurbished, the bright and stylish décor, pendant lighting and well-spaced tables provide a smart but informal setting.

Paul Wedgwood’s Modern Scottish cuisine has Asian influences, although less prominent than before, and exploits the foraged ingredients of land and sea.  Spiced monkfish, cauliflower korma, pickled daikon and saffron pickled onions evidence the former. Woodruff in a broth accompanying salt-baked celeriac, sea vegetables garnishing a halibut dish, lavender flavouring a mallard breast, bramble in a salmon starter, sweet cicely in a vegetarian option, and wild mint ice cream clearly reflect his passion for wild food.

The cooking of meat and fish is precisely timed to maximise their inherent flavour. Vegetables are given equal attention to protein.  Many dishes are multi-layered, showing invention tempered by restraint, being harmonious in composition and balanced in taste, texture and temperature. Saucing is carefully judged so as not to overwhelm the star ingredient. Both classical and contemporary techniques are employed demonstrating high levels of culinary skill. Menu descriptions are terse, listing the main ingredients but not indicating the cooking methods, giving a surprise to the diner. The presentation is clean and portions are generous.

Pricing is realistic but represents good value given the quality of the product and the skills and versatility on show. These are two reasons that help to explain Wedgwood’s longevity in an area saturated with restaurants

The main menu comprises five starters priced from £9.95 to £13.50; five mains from £22.95 to £28.95; and four desserts all at £8.95. A cheese plate is also available at £10.95. A six-course tasting menu – “A Wee Tour of Scotland” – priced £60 includes some dishes from the carte. There is also a vegetarian menu at £55 and a popular two or three-course set lunch at £20/£25.

Fine Dining Guide visited on a weekday lunchtime when only the set menu is available. An acid test for any high-end restaurant is that the standard of cooking, albeit usually of more humble ingredients with a limited choice, should be the same here as for the other menus. In this respect, Wedgwood did not disappoint. With three options in each course, including vegetarian dishes, most preferences would be satisfied

A starter of scorched salmon was accurately judged to retain the flavour of the rich buttery flesh. Goats’ curd, with its mild tanginess, worked well as a foil to the oily fish. Freshness was provided by bramble and bramble oil which added sweetness, apple giving a crisp texture and gentle acidic note, and radish adding a spicy edge.

Another starter of venison and pancetta terrine was moist and well-seasoned. Studded with pistachios, which gave sweetness and a contrasting texture, it was balanced by pickled daikon and beetroot, giving acidity and an earthy note. Dressed with garlic crumb, this was a visually stunning dish.

Gently spiced monkfish tail was carefully rendered, capturing the mild, sweet flavour of the dense, meaty flesh. Perched on a bed of crushed potato and braised fennel, and dressed with sea herbs, the dish was bought together by a full flavoured but light crab bisque.

Another main course featured two thick slices of belly pork cooked by the confit method. So often used with duck, it was successfully employed here, resulting in meltingly soft meat, full of porcine richness. White beans in a well-reduced romesco sauce of tomatoes, peppers and almonds proved a robust, hearty accompaniment. Charred sweetcorn added a smoky lift and hispi cabbage gave an element of freshness the dish needed.

For dessert, buttermilk and lemon thyme panna cotta served in a glass cup, had the correct degree of wobble and a well-balanced herbal note. Blackcurrant compote gave a contrasting tartness to the cream, while crushed almonds added a pleasing textural flourish.

The chocolate brownie was a model of its kind, with a crisp crust and a gooey centre. Partnered with a rich chocolate cremeux and a quenelle of wild mint ice cream, these two flavours were an ideal match for this decadent dessert.

Overall, this was a most pleasant experience in a relaxed, informal setting. It was enhanced by the welcoming, knowledgeable and efficient service led by Amanda, the restaurant manager.

Fine Dining Guide had an opportunity to speak to chef-patron Paul Wedgwood

Lisa and Paul Wedgwood

Who inspired you in your cooking career?

Paul Wedgwood’s love of cooking was deeply ingrained at an early age. His father was an excellent experimental home cook. Good food including game was always available, stimulating his interest in a career in cookery. Having qualified from Runshaw College in Leyland with a National Diploma in Hotel Management, Paul won a coveted placement at the renowned Miller Howe in Windermere.  Under the inspirational guidance of chef patron John Tovey, whose sourcing of fresh, local ingredients – some grown in the hotel’s kitchen garden – made him a pioneer in this field. Paul successfully refined his skills, gaining him a full-time job in the kitchen. Later positions in Cumbria, culminating in his being part of the management team which opened The Georgina House in Kendal, greatly widened Paul’s appreciation of the hospitality industry. Thus, he was fully prepared to open his eponymous restaurant in Canongate along the Royal Mile in late 2007. Since then, it has won an array of local and national awards of which Harden’s is the most prized.

How do you explain the restaurant’s longevity of fourteen and a half years?

Paul and his partner Lisa have always responded consistently and positively to customer feedback, hoping to provide the “perfect night out” for their guests. Therefore, the restaurant has evolved, meeting the needs of an ever more demanding clientele who increasingly wish to know the finer details such as the provenance of the produce as well as how it is cooked.

How successful is the evening tasting menu?

About 65% to 70% of the evening covers opt for the tasting menu. It used to be only 25% to 30% when the a la carte menu was longer and shown first to the guests. A strategic decision, partly in response to customer feedback, was taken to shorten the carte, which had satisfied most preferences but was admittedly too long, and present the tasting menu first. Eventually, this more than doubled the uptake.

Tell us about your kitchen and front of house teams.

There are nine in the kitchen, three of whom are part time. Given the long hours, they now work a four-day week to promote an improved work-life balance. This has encouraged some chefs to return to work at Wedgwood. There are four full time and two part time front of house members.

Tell us about your interest in foraging

Paul has been a keen forager since his boy scout days. He has included foraged ingredients in his menus since opening, being a pioneer of foraging before it became fashionable.

Do you have a signature dish?

Paul is very proud of his scallops with cauliflower korma puree, pineapple and capers relish, peanut and pistachio dust dressed with micro coriander and its oil. Customers are advised to taste all the elements together to enjoy the harmony of flavours before eating them separately. This hugely popular dish is rarely off the menu before an outcry brings it back

What changes have you noted in the Edinburgh restaurant scene in recent years.

The rise of independent restaurants has been crucial in raising standards and responding to a more educated and demanding clientele. Indeed, they need to be ahead of the game in a constantly evolving gastronomy stimulated by TV chefs. Edinburgh’s thriving tourist industry and its strong gastronomic reputation will ensure a healthy coexistence amongst competing restaurants

Restaurant Review: Heron, Edinburgh (Oct 2021)

Posted on: October 7th, 2021 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

Housed in a beautiful Victorian building at The Shore in Leith, Heron has, perhaps, the most enviable location of all the plethora of eateries there.  On a prominent slope, at the junction of Henderson Street and Sandport Place, it overlooks the Water of Leith, with views down to the old docks.

As restaurant manager Glen commented, developments in Leith continue to have real momentum with the openings of distilleries, bakeries, wine and cocktail bars alongside the Michelin starred and other fine restaurants. The projected arrival of the tramline by 2023 will attract even more interest in the area.

Originally conceived in January and opened at breakneck speed in July 2021, it is the first joint restaurant venture of chefs Tomas Gormley and Sam Yorke. The minimalist interior has an uncluttered look with stripped pine floors, pine effect tables and Venetian blinds. The high ceiling in Japanese seaweed, grey walls, and pendant lighting are attractive but indicate a work in progress. Their Tables are arranged on two levels and there is a large concrete bar.

A mixed clientele includes the young, curious locals, those who were clients of Bad Seeds, the chefs’ home dining venture in the lockdown, and industry friends from other restaurants and hotels.

The restaurant aims to serve “farm to table” dishes with ingredients sourced from well known local suppliers. These include Grieson Organic, Phantassie Organic Farm and The Free Company

Both classical and contemporary methods are used in the kitchen, reflecting the relative experience of the two young, yet highly trained chefs. Meat, game and fish dishes are accurately timed both in cooking and resting, maximising their flavour and texture. Dishes look simple in their clean and often beautiful presentation but are often multi-layered and complex. Ingredients are judiciously combined, being balanced in their tastes, textures and temperatures. Invention is moderated by a shrewd gastronomic sense, leading to surprising yet enjoyable results.

Prices compare favourably with similar establishments being fair and realistic given the quality of the ingredients and the skill in cooking.  On a late summer menu, four starters were priced from £9 to £15; four mains from £20 to £34; and three desserts, all at £9. The limited choice allows the current two chefs to focus on producing every plate to perfection.

The menu changes every few weeks and reflects the best seasonal produce. In the current fashion, descriptions merely list the main ingredients of each dish with no indication of cooking methods. However, the front of house staff team is well informed and have no difficulty answering guests’ questions.

Fine Dining Guide visited on a weekday evening in late September and found much to admire in the food, wine, service and ambience.

An amuse-bouche of two Lindisfarne oysters, their essential briny taste enlivened by a dressing of smoky but not overwhelming Mescal, spicy oregano giving a peppery heat, and a drizzle of gazpacho and lime for sweetness and acidity.

Another amuse comprised a generous bowl of three types of East Coast charcuterie: rich robust saucisson sec, aged and dry salami Picante, and a fragrant Tartufo with truffle and porcini.

Whipped butter with brown crab meat accompanied a small sourdough loaf with a crisp crust and tangy crumb.

A starter of mackerel cured in rice wine and Mirin delighted in its lively freshness. This oily fish was balanced by compressed apple cubes and apple sorbet giving sweetness and acidity, and horseradish cream and wasabi crumb giving a background heat. In colours of silver, green and white, this was a brilliantly conceived and visually stunning dish.Wine: Riesling Federspiel, Weingut Prager, 2017

Another starter of veal sweetbreads was accurately pan roasted to produce a caramelised crust and soft, creamy flesh. Garnished with wood sorrel, these delectable morsels of offal rested on a bed of earthy, silky-smooth celeriac puree.  Garnished with girolle mushrooms the dish was finished with an intense veal jus. This rich, luxurious, almost decadent dish, classically executed, has proved extremely popular. Wine: St Joseph Blanc, Selection d J S Chase, 2014

Our two main courses came with side dishes

Classical cooking was also evident in the first main course. A flavoursome sirloin steak was cooked medium rare and dressed in a deep, glossy Bordelaise sauce. Cubes of bone marrow and Parmesan cubes added richness and a moderate salty crunch. An innovative carrot dauphinoise was also topped with the same crumb. Freshness and a foil the richness was given by a side salad of Isle of Wight tomatoes, basil oil and red onion. Wine: Saintayme St Emilion, Grand Cru 2014

A breast of partridge was precisely cooked and rested to optimise its moist flesh and mild gamey flavour. Topped with pumpkin seed and sage crumb to give texture, and stuffed with its leg meat, foie gras, oats and smoked raisins to give an added surprise, this complex dish was dressed with a smooth, sweet pumpkin puree and a piquant Barberry sauce. Served on the side was a freshly baked brioche stuffed with a parfait of the bird’s liver and topped with pancetta and thyme. This tour de force of game cookery impressed on all fronts: the initial concept; the timing and attention to detail; and the simple, clean presentation of a complex, multi layered dish.  Wine: Savigny Les Beaune Premier Cru, Domaine Savigny 2008

Desserts, often the Achilles Heel of fine dining establishments, did not disappoint in maintaining the high standards of conception and execution.

An impressive autumnal dish showcased the humble damson in three ways:  a light creamy glazed cheesecake; a velvety smooth and intensely flavoured sorbet on crushed shortcake; and a damson gel.

Equally accomplished was the chocolate delice: a mousse of dark chocolate came with a peanut financier, caramel jelly, topped with an exemplary peanut brittle and a quenelle of silky buttermilk sorbet, the gentle sourness of which balanced the richness of the sweeter elements.

Good coffee ended a memorable meal, one enhanced by the welcoming, seamless service under the direction of restaurant manager Glen Montgomery, whose distinguished CV includes Restaurant Andrew Fairlie and the Balmoral Hotel. With a career also as a sommelier, he was able to match wines to dishes with consummate ease as well as describing the wine and dishes in meticulous detail. His professional yet unstuffy approach contributed to the relaxed ambience room of the dining room.

Fine Dining Guide had an opportunity to speak to the chefs. Both have impressive pedigrees: Tomas Gormley (26) was head chef at The Lookout by Gardener’s Cottage, after working at Edinburgh’s 21212 and Le Roi Fou, and before that Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles; Sam Yorke (23) worked under chef Dominic Jack at the now closed Castle Terrace Restaurant, then transferred to Tom Kitchin’s Bonnie Badger in Gullane.

Describe the journey from ‘Bad Seeds’ lockdown fine dining takeaway to Heron

Their first meeting to discuss the idea was on January 8th. They continued with Bed Seeds until 8th March, then work on the Heron site progressed from March to July. With the help of those of Sam’s family, who were in the relevant trades, Heron opened on 15th July. The pace was clearly fast, with further developments in store. With a current capacity of 40 covers, there are plans for dining in the lower area and casual dining at the bar, increasing the number to 50.  The arrival of a third chef in the last two weeks will facilitate this and help extend and fine tune the offering. Both chefs commented on how well their restaurant has been received, adding there is room for all types of eateries to co-exist happily in the area.

How do you combine use of artisan suppliers and organic producers with fine dining consistency?

Failures by suppliers could neither be predicted nor planned for. Fortunately, most of their suppliers have been reliable. As they try to change or adapt the menu frequently, continued dependence on the same suppliers does not happen. There have been no major problems since opening.

Do you have any signature dishes?

The sweetbread with celeriac puree starter has been on the menu since opening so could be considered a signature dish. Of the main courses, lobster tail with ginger and chilli ravioli, now off the menu, was also popular. Currently, the partridge dish has proved a winner.

As joint chefs, how are any differences in approach or concept reconciled?

As joint chefs it may take some time to settle on a dish. However, they tend to agree on most things but like to bounce ideas off each other. 

What can you take from your relative backgrounds?

Both spent lot of time in classical French led kitchens as reflected in their current repertoire. Sam worked under a head chef who was more strictly classical, old school with discipline, structure and organisation. In similar fashion, Tomas devleoped his skills with Andrew Fairlie, while considering himself as more experimental.

What is your view of social media?

Tomas is the expert here. The coverage has been most encouraging so far.

What is your ultimate ideal for this restaurant?

The aim is to busy every night!

Restaurant Review: Aurora, Edinburgh (Oct 2021)

Posted on: October 2nd, 2021 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

Aurora at 187 Great Junction Street is not in the fashionable part of Leith but on a busy main road lined with small shops and eateries of all kinds. It does not have a waterfront view. It is certainly not the place where you would expect to come across a fine dining restaurant. Its frontage is easily missable and a peek through the window would reveal a narrow, high ceilinged room with minimal decoration and lighting.

And yet Aurora is making waves in the crowded Edinburgh restaurant scene, serving a seven-course tasting menu that could compete with its more established rivals. It has attracted both regular locals and those making a special trip.

This 18-cover restaurant has stripped pine floors and undressed pine tables lit by bulkhead lighting. Wine racks on high shelving are illuminated by spotlights. A few abstract prints decorate the blue walls and succulent plants line the front window sill. Clearly, with the unremarkable décor, furniture and fittings, the focus is all on the food. And what food it is! But first some background on the chef-patron…

Now aged 33, Kamil Witek’s culinary background is far from typical of most chefs. Indeed, he became a chef by accident. In Poland, he entered university with the ultimate aim of becoming an actor. Having realised this may not be the most stable and lucrative profession he turned to the chef world.

As a youngster, Kamil visited Edinburgh and was originally impressed by its lively and colourful culture, especially during the festival, when the city reminded him of his home in Krakow. He moved permanently to Edinburgh seven years ago, first as senior sous chef at The Apartment, then as sous and head chef at Salt Café in Morningside. There he acquired new skills and was given complete freedom to develop the menu, making a name for himself as a promising high-end chef. He eventually decided to open Aurora as a small all-day dining café four years ago.  While this concept only took off at weekends, the monthly evening tasting menu proved very popular, so the menu slowly switched to tasting only.  During lockdowns, popular takeaways and weekend-ready meals paid the bills, outside of that the new tasting concept was operating six months prior to the first lockdown, six months between lockdowns, and during the last three months. Business has been good, so while success is always a relative measure, so far so good.

By his own admission, it is difficult to describe his style of cooking. It is certainly “modern and global”, taking inspiration from different art and cultures, so through his tasting menu he likes to take his guests on a “global journey.” Kamil treats his team of six, three in the kitchen and three front of house, as a family, having worked with some of them in Krakow and at Salt. 

The tasting menu changes four times a year with the seasons. Aurora has been lucky in retaining many of its original customers who have remained loyal through its various changes. As the tasting menu has choices in five of its courses, customers can return to enjoy the same menu but choosing different items. Foodies are coming from greater distances but the core of his clientele remains those who came for breakfast four years ago.

When asked to name a signature dish, Kamil considers campfire potatoes, charred on the outside and soft inside, which proved popular for seven years at Salt and Aurora.  His smoked butter uses the same idea of the scout campfire aroma.

When considering the sampled food offering, it is bold in conception and accomplished in execution, displaying precision in cooking, employing a variety of techniques both classic and contemporary. Meat and fish cookery is accurately timed, enabling their true flavours to shine. Saucing is a particular strength, judiciously applied to highlight the main ingredient.  Influences are international but combinations of ingredients are always harmonious, with balance in tastes, textures and temperatures. Equal care is given to vegetarian options, with a variety of popular and less well-known produce being used. Attention to detail is meticulous. The plating is clean, the presentation is beautiful and portions are generous.

Pricing of the seven-course menu at £52, which includes an amuse bouche and petit fours, is a steal for cooking of this skill using top-notch ingredients. The ubiquitous listing of ingredients for each dish, with no indication of cooking methods, is also evident here.

The wine list is mainly Old World with ungreedy markups.  A flight of matching wines is £48, More interesting is the non-alcoholic matching selection priced at £30 created by manager /sommelier Cezar. The use of herbal essences, botanicals, non-alcoholic bitters, kombucha, vermouth, homemade lemongrass lemonade, calamansi, and lapsang souchong tea all featured in the flight we chose.

Fine Dining Guide visited Aurora on a weekday evening in September and was overwhelmed by the brilliance of the seven-course summer tasting menu.

A stunning amuse bouche featured a deep-fried potato flour parcel encasing fried egg yolk and topped with truffle shavings. This heavenly combination of crisp pastry, warm liquid centre and the heady fragrance of the luxurious fungus, to be consumed in one mouthful to avoid a mess, proved an original, opener.

A warm sourdough loaf was partnered with potato skin butter smoked under a cloche.

For the second course, a well-seasoned, sweet tomatillo gazpacho and refreshing cucumber sorbet with smoked almonds was enveloped by a cloud of cucumber foam which needed more umph to elevate the dish. It proved to be a minor flaw in the whole menu.

On the second course, a “Butterfly Salad” included radicchio and Chinese leaves, blanched to reduce their bitterness; cherry tomatoes, toasted pine nuts and cannellini beans; and six plant-based sauces including red wine balsamic, herb olive oil and beetroot jus. This colourful plate had soft and crisp textures with well-balanced dressings.

As an alternative on the second course, a plump scallop was seared to produce a caramelised crust and soft, sweet flesh. Toasted rice flakes gave a contrasting texture while passion fruit puree, wasabi aioli and dried shrimp paste added sharpness, a gentle heat and an umami note.

The third course featured an accurately timed pan-fried fillet of cod, resulting in delicate, moist and translucent white flakes of fish. It was served with a herbaceous plankton sauce, pickled daikon for contrasting texture and lemon oil and yuzu pearls for acidity. This dish fully demonstrated the versatility of the chef using classic and molecular cookery.

The fourth course comprised alternative pasta dishes.

The wild mushroom open raviolo was a cornucopia of fragrant fungi. Layered above the silky pasta were artichoke cream, sauteed morels, chanterelles and shavings of summer black truffles. A sprinkling of toasted hazelnuts finished this earthy, aromatic dish of contrasting tastes and textures.

Zlikrofi, a Slovenian raviolo, was different in tone and shape and thicker than Italian pasta. Stuffed with potato and guanciale pork, and topped with Italian Montasio cheese, parsley sauce, fermented garlic powder, and powdered grisinii sticks, this was a more robust, hearty alternative to the open ravioli.

For the fifth course, we both chose the suckling pig. It had been cooked sous vide for 24 hours, pulled and crisped up. This tender, flavoursome porcine treat simply melted in the mouth. It worked well with the three accompanying sauces: a rich chicken jus, a sweet pineapple puree and punchy tiger milk of fish paste, chilli and lime. Potato glass chips, charred spring onions, and purple heritage carrot added crisp texture and a gentle smokiness to this original and accomplished dish.

A pre-dessert of beer foam and a tangy lemon gel satisfyingly refreshed the palate

Desserts showed the same degree of invention and flair as the preceding dishes.

A pear poached in rhubarb and elderflower Edinburgh gin had a soft, yielding texture and pronounced flavour. It was partnered with a velvety smooth quenelle of fennel and ginger ice cream and was topped with honey tuile, providing a light, crisp garnish.

Equally delicious was the light but rich dark chocolate mousse with tonka bean. Partnered with mixed berry ice cream, both were encased with crisp meringue shards flavoured with garum masala. This whole dessert proved to be an inspired combination of different textures and temperatures, with a sweet, sharp and mildly spicy flavour.

Excellent petit fours of passion fruit marshmallows, pistachio macaroons and chocolate truffles completed a memorable meal, one enhanced by the welcoming, efficient and unobtrusive service of Marta and Cezar who explained the drink pairings he had created with enthusiasm.

Kamil Witek has clearly made the right decision in only offering a tasting menu. From a business perspective, it is the most efficient and least wasteful form of fine dining catering. More importantly, it allows him to demonstrate his creative genius and refined skills with assured consistency.  He hopes to someday expand to a bigger site in Leith, prior to lockdown he had half an eye on the new Little Chartroom site. Should the opportunity arise again, he wants to stay in Leith, where the most vibrant, growing and interesting part of the city offers the most significant opportunities. Fine Dining Guide hopes to return to sample another seasonal menu at Aurora and will follow its progress with interest.