Morag Bootland visits a pop-up by Eòrna restaurant in Edinburgh.
AS HUMANS, it’s in our nature to want to be the first to do things. For some it’s scaling a mountain the hard way, or rowing single-handedly around the world. But for me there’s nothing better than being one of the first to try out a new restaurant. It’s exciting when you get a sneak preview, isn’t it?
Even more exciting, is the fact that the restaurant in question isn’t even open yet! Ahead of the official launch of eòrna (which means barley, for anyone whose Gaelic is as woefully inadequate as mine), Edinburgh’s gastronomic dream team of chef Brian Grigor and sommelier Glen Montgomery are currently hosting a preview 12-cover supper club.
The pair, who have an impressive culinary pedigree that includes Number One at the Balmoral and Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, are hosting the pop-up at the Miele Experience Centre in the St James Quarter. The shop is a haven for techy foodies, with banks of up-market ovens to admire and wine fridges to die for.
As we arrive we enjoy a glass of chilled Charles Heidsieck Champagne and a Mull Cheddar Tartlette that’s delicate appearance belies a punch of rich cheesy deliciousness.
Brian is plating up the starters as we enjoy the amuse-bouche and take our seats. The format for the evening is a six-course tasting menu, focusing on quality Scottish ingredients, matched with some classic old-world wines.
We munch a slice of Twelve Triangles bakery sourdough bread smothered with whipped butter with rapeseed oil. As we eat, we surmise with our fellow diners as to whether we should open a restaurant that serves only bread and butter. It seems like a great idea, until our starters arrive.
Kicking off proceedings is a Belhaven smoked salmon terrine with lemon puree and quail’s egg. The terrine is delicately layered and is perfect with the richness of the quail’s egg. But it’s the lemon puree that really makes this dish pop. It’s a great start and it’s matched with an Austrian Riesling Smaragd ‘Klaus’2017 from Weingut Prager with plenty of minerality and lots of peach. The perfect antidote to grim memories of the terrible Rieslings in the 1980s that were my introduction to this variety.
Next comes a hand-dived scallop with buttermilk, celeriac and dill. This is cooked to perfection and Brian explains that the buttermilk in the glorious broth is created while making the aforementioned whipped butter. The scallop is paired with a deeply straw-coloured Chardonnay 2016, Dry River Estate, from Martinborough at the south of New Zealand’s North island. Glen has decanted this in advance to open up the flavours and explains that the colour comes more from ageing than oak with this particular Chardonnay.
Back on dry land the next course is a loin of venison with baby beets and sauce grand veneur. The venison is so tender that it almost melts in the mouth and the beets are a perfectly earthy match. Now, here’s something that you’re unlikely to hear me say very often. I felt that there was just slightly too much chocolate in the sauce for my liking. But this certainly didn’t stop the dish from being up there in my top three of the night. Matched with a cherry-laden French pinot noir Chambolle Musigny ‘Bussieres’ 2012 from Olivier Jouan it really was a joy.
A wee pot of rhubarb and custard sneaked in before the pudding-proper. And as the Perthshire strawberries, crème fraiche and elderflower was placed in front of me the scent was so evocative, I couldn’t help but smile. This dessert was Scottish summer on a plate. The heady smell of elderflowers on a forest walk and the sweet aroma of freshly-picked ripe strawberries from the garden. And all of this before I’d even tasted a spoonful. The flavours didn’t disappoint and I savoured every mouthful. Paired with a sweet Monbazillac 1994 from Chateau Tirecul La Graviere this was a dessert lovers paradise and one I’d gladly experience time and time again.
And with that we were done. Leaving the Miele Experience Centre happily satiated, we can’t wait to see what eòrna has in store when it opens its doors.
To book for the next pop-up on 1 and 2 July visit www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/eorna-miele-tickets-365682023777
Price: £120 per person for six courses and matching wines
Time: 5.30pm – 8pm
Miele Experience Centre, 243 St James Crescent, EH1 3AD
Read more news and reviews on Scottish Field’s food and drink pages, in association with Cask & Still magazine.
Plus, don’t miss the secret diner’s restaurant review in the July Issue of Scottish Field magzine.