S Wilson from Bite Magazine checks out Edinburgh’s newest destination restaurant & bar.…
First place goes to desserts, starters are a close runner up and main courses take third place. Mr Bite and me agree, puddings win hands down at Ishka.
This new restaurant come cocktail bar has taken over the stylish premises of the former Brasserie Les Amis. And as well as wisely keeping the interior decor the new owners have also retained the chef and thus the intense flavours and sauces I liked so much at the French brasserie remain.
The tropical passion fruit tart is dessert for me, the chocolate and blackcurrant brownie is for Mr Bite. Both come with cool sweet, ice-cream, coconut and clotted cream respectively, and are a triumphant finale to a lovely meal. No showy frills just flavour and technique shining through. We seriously consider ordering two more puddings just to see if they are all this good.
Starters and cocktails are none too shabby either.
The Vintner’s Fizz manages to be celebratory, pretty, refreshing, balanced and adult all in one glass. It comprises G’vin Gin, blackberry wine, orgeat, fresh lemon, Moet Rose, orange bitters, pistachio, and egg white.
To begin, gin-cured salmon, tomato crème fraîche , chilli, and celery-salted oat biscuit for him and for me, dressed crab with gazpacho, avocado, grilled soda bread, and Arbequina olive oil. Two cool summery dishes. The quenelle of mousse for the salmon is original and works, the gazpacho is not too soupy for the delicate crab. I like the way the soda bread has been very well grilled.
Main courses are less successful in terms of balance and flavour. I have squid stuffed with fennel, rice and herbs. The fish is cooked perfectly i.e. with bite but successfully dodging any rubbery overcooking. Filling is texturally pleasing pumped up rice and herbs but screaming out for more fennel. On the side – a chorizo and tomato stew is as fiery and intense as the Spanish sun but there is too much of it on the plate and too little of the pure white roast garlic mayonnaise. I am not sure why there are pea shoots as garnish.
Mr Bite has pork loin and glazed pork cheek with spiced sticky black beans, and pickled pak choi. I can’t comment but he thought the dish need ‘lifting’ – maybe with flavours like ginger and soy – something to ‘bring it all together’.
I have to say I was seriously tempted by the broccoli fritters veggie choice for main course and bar snacks are more than the name suggests – cured salmon poke avocado, lime, chilli, cashew or venison sliders give you an idea.
Overall we were impressed and there are lots of reasons for return visits. It’s modern European-inspired cuisine and with Atelier just down the road that secures two restaurants of high standing for Morrison Street.