Owned by Eleanor Cunningham, The Edinburgh Larder aims to showcase Scottish, seasonal produce at its best. As well as locations on Alva Street and Blackfriars Street, The Larder has ventured out into the countryside and has joined forces with Whitmuir Farm. While sourcing as much produce as possible from Whitmuir, the innovative team are also running a café/restaurant on the farm and supporting local producers across Scotland.
It is this very farm that the cordial featured in our welcoming cocktail of Spiced Pear and Apple Vodka Cocktail was made. What a triumph! Made by Eleanor’s brother, the cordial was spiced perfectly and was the ideal tipple to enjoy while we settled into one of the extremely cosy booths. As well as the delicious cordial, Eleanor’s brother makes all the jam and preserves at the Larder. Head chef, Caoimhe, makes loads of lovely cordials and a few other cheeky concoctions – her damson gin is apparently incredible!
As always, the menu reflects the season and their ‘nose to tail’ approach ensures that produce is treated with the utmost respect. Using a different animal each month, the team will be utilising all of the animal, and butchering in house – not a skill for the faint hearted by an absolute delight to hear.
“Sourcing local produce is at the heart of our business – it’s not just something we add to our menu. We call our suppliers really often to find out what they have which is great to use and work our menu out on that basis rather than the other way around. We have a whole carcass of meat which comes in each month which is butchered and cured onsite so all our kitchen team can have a go at butchery and we have a daily changing menu for this reason. We also make our own charcuterie and smoked products as well as a wide range of preserves.” – Eleanor
Having visited for breakfast when the restaurant first opened, and more recently, a couple of dinners and a Saturday lunch, I must say that I was somewhat underwhelmed by food this week as it has always exceeded expectations in the past.
The Alva Street restaurant is utterly charming. Decorated with a rustic vibe using reclaimed wood, twinkling fairy lights and friendly staff. There is a new chef, and together with Boys Eat Scotland and the Edinburgh Reporter, OH! Taste was kindly invited along to s sample the February menu.
Homemade crackers with pumpkin and chilli dip appeared soon after we were seated. These were quite delicious and the pumpkin dip is something I will certainly be trying in my own kitchen. (Although, I have no doubt that mine will be significantly less successful!)
My starter of carrot and beetroot fritters was also tasty and sweet crunchy carrot and balanced out by the earthy richness of the beetroot. The accompaniment of the fermented beetroot yoghurt, although a somewhat offputting vibrant pink colour, tasted like normal yoghurt to me and added little to the dish.
A main course of slow cooked lamb on a bed of barley and carrots was the next dish to come my way. The ‘pulled lamb’ lamb was soft, succulent and full of flavour, and luckily so, as the barley was, unfortunately, bland and underseasoned.
To follow, I ordered the Poached Quince Tart served with Creme Fraiche, which had caught my eye from the very beginning. The pastry was rich and flaky, however, the quince let down this promising dish. Although it had been poached, I’m not sure what in, as it had no flavour whatsoever. I had hoped that it would pack a spicy punch, similar top that of the cordial, but alas, there was no punch thrown.
The restaurant’s is in the process of launching a new social enterprise – Edinburgh Food Social. The team are planning to work with schools and communities to make local food more accessible and run cookery demonstrations at community projects to teach people what can be done with seasonal ingredients. These ingredients will be delivered by a food truck across the city and beyond. The project will kick off with a community project in Rosyth in April as part of an antipoverty campaign.
The missing component of our meal was, of course, the chef herself. I have no doubt that the restaurant is up to much more than we experience last night, and all my previous visits would back this theory up. The ethos of this restaurant is right on the money, and they are really doing all that they can to educate, encourage and I’m prepared to back it all the way.
The team are passionate and friendly, and the interiors are warm, cosy and inviting. I know for a fact that the food has been at a much higher standard, but I have no doubt that this was as a result of the missing chef. We will be back, there’s no doubt of that – we just hope the chef is too. We look forward to our next visit, and to seeing their social enterprise go from strength to strength.
Find them: www.edinburghlarder.co.uk
Support Edinburgh Food Social here.