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Review: The Spanish Butcher, Edinburgh

I’ve always struggled to correctly identify the streets that flow North from Princes Street over George Street in the capital, so I’m marching in what I hope is the right direction to locate the newly opened The Spanish Butcher.

I’m reassured when I see the horizontal yellow and red stripes of the Spanish flag wafting over a doorway on North Castle Street. I make a beeline for it, but as it turns out this is not the Spanish Butcher, it is actually the Spanish consulate, which is conveniently located directly across the road from my destination.

The Spanish Butcher’s Edinburgh incarnation follows in the hoof prints of its Glasgow sister restaurant which opened in 2016. The food is undeniably Mediterranean, but the look of the restaurant with its rich leather seating, wood panelling, deep green walls and exposed brick is definitely more Manhattan loft than Galician granary.

We are given a warm welcome by owners James and Louise Rusk, and we take our seats in The Spanish Square, a private dining area seating around 20 people that can be shuttered off from the main restaurant for special occasions.

We’re here to sample the meat that is the linchpin of the menu at The Spanish Butcher, Galician beef. Now, as we all know we have some pretty darned tasty coos of our own here in Scotland, so what makes this particular beef so special that it warrants bringing it here from North-West Spain? I shall explain, but all in good time. There is also dry-aged, grass-fed Scotch beef on the menu for anyone who might feel traitorous to our fine local livestock.

Kicking off proceedings with some snacks we sample some very fine jamon croquetas with aioli and plump gordal olives which are so good that they instigate a cocktail stick fencing battle.

For starters there’s the chargrilled octopus and squid with chorizo, caperberries and new potato. This is a big plateful of tender cephalopod, salty, rich and delicious. The pork cheek across the table is tender and tasty and vanishes in the blink of an eye.

Then it’s on to the real star of the show, the Galician Chateaubriand. The beef comes from Rubia Gallega cattle which are between 8 and 12 years old before they are slaughtered. The meat is then dry-aged for up to 50 days which helps to give it a deep red colour and rich flavour. Our beef is perfectly tender and comes with a rich Picos Blue cheese sauce and a refreshing Mojo Verde, crispy fries with generous shavings of Manchego cheese and a sweet tomato salad.

Somehow we think we can manage dessert, but as it turns out we’re only half right and we are defeated. The Burnt Basque Cheesecake is pleasantly creamy and the pastry that surrounds the Santiago Almond Tart is buttery and crisp, although the tart itself is sadly lacking in almond, while the accompanying pear could use more poaching. Both were passable puds, but if you want my advice you’ll stick to the star of the show and splurge all of your hard earned cash on as much of that divine Galician beef as you can afford. Oh, and maybe a wee glass of Rioja.

I, for one, will be venturing back, if only to sample the Sunday roast. A great excuse to eat more Galician beef, although I will perhaps allow space for a roastie or three. Viva The Spanish Butcher!

 

The Spanish Butcher, 58a North Castle Street, Edinburgh EH2 3LU. Tel: 0131 322 0525

 

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