Black Pig and Oyster is an exciting new addition to the Edinburgh dining scene. Specialising in Spanish cuisine, in particular dishes featuring the celebrated Iberian Black Pig, its tapas, street food and small sharing dishes alongside an a la carte menu make it ideal for both casual and special occasion dining.
Located on the Commercial Quay in Leith, and housed in what was originally a whiskey warehouse, it finally reopened in May this year after being flooded from the dentist above. The contemporary glass and steel frontage belies the warm, inviting décor of the interior. The original arched ceiling of red brick has been retained, giving it a cavernous feel, emphasised by stone pillars and up lighting. Parquet flooring, large, well-spaced tables and leather-backed chairs give a cool, sophisticated look to the dining room which can take up to 80 covers. At one end of the long room, adjacent to the wine cellar and with a clear view of the kitchen passe, is the chef’s table for to ten diners.
Clearly, considerable investment has gone into this venture which is very much a family run operation. Owners Bryan the chef and wife Michelle leading front of house, are assisted by son Jack on the pastry section and waitress daughter Yasmine. Overall, there are four in the kitchen and four front of house.
The ambitious menu is extensive, with a variety of tapas, street food and sharing options, popular at lunch time. Although the main carte contains vegetarian dishes, it emphasises the carnivorous and pescatarian elements. Five Iberian Black choices (£25-£28) include smoked and schnitzel versions. Five Butcher’s Finest dishes, (£18-£25), include wild mushroom and garlic chicken and crispy lamb with Picos blue. Shell and Fish ((£18-£25) include halibut and prawns and Iberian fish supper. Four desserts, (£6.95-£7.25) range from tempered chocolate brownie to Mojito panna cotta. An artisan cheese board is also offered at £8.95. Prices are fair given the quality and quantity of the raw materials, the skill in cooking and the comfort of the venue.
An agreeable wine list is prefaced by an interesting range of cocktails such as Madeiran Punch (Couvosier, lime and orange juice at £7.25) and De-Licious (Baileys, Frangelico, Crème de Menthe and fresh cream at £7.50)
A visit on a weekday evening during the Edinburgh Festival enabled me to same dishes from the carte. The ambience was relaxed and informal,
Loch Fyne oysters came in three preparations – natural with pickled shallot and sherry dressing, deep fried in a crisp and transparently thin tempura batter, and grilled with mahon cheese to reflect the Spanish theme of the restaurant. These gave satisfying contrasts of taste, texture and temperatures, a promising start to the meal.
Next came a regional classic, Scotch pie, but not the flat, soggy unappetising specimens often encountered elsewhere. Here, the burnished water crust pastry was deliciously thin and crisp, encasing a well-seasoned mutton filling. Standing proud, it was topped with a flavoursome haggis bon-bon and paired with a smoked tomato chutney, which helped to cut the richness of the pie.
The main course was “Black Pig Surf and Turf” which showcased some of the best ingredients the restaurant has to offer. Two thick slices of Presa, the leanest cut of the acorn fed Iberian Blackpig from the lower back of the animal, had a steak like texture and rich, porcine taste, although any charred element was lacking. Equally enticing were the three giant grilled prawns, dressed with garlic butter which were accurately timed to enhance their succulent sweet flesh. The best part, however, was sucking the heads, where most of the flavour is! This combination would have been improved if the pork and prawns had been gently charred which would have boosted their flavour. Strangely, the lemon garnish was charred. Aioli and sauted potatoes completed this generous dish.
“The not so messy Eton mess” was the creation of son Jack, who has trained under a winning patissier of Crème de la Crème. A suitably light dessert to end a heavy meal, it featured toasted and dehydrated shards of meringue, cream, cubes of Chambord jelly, and fresh raspberries and strawberries with their coulis attractively arranged around the edge of a dark plate.
Overall, dinner at the Black Pig and Oyster was a most pleasant experience, enhanced by the unobtrusive and knowledgeable service overseen by manager Marian. It deserves to be successful, not just because the misfortunes forcing it to close temporarily, but, more importantly, because of the accomplished cooking based on first rate Scottish and Spanish produce. Fine Dining Guide will return to sample some of the smaller dishes and will follow its progress with interest.