REVIEW: Guild of Foresters

The missus and I recently headed down to Portobello for an afternoon at the Victorian Baths on the promenade. And after enduring the mediocrity of that underwhelming, over-expensive experience, we decided to reward ourselves with a nice lunch.

Enter Guild of Foresters, a lovely wee gastro pub on Portobello High Street and one of a number of new bars, bistros and restaurants that have reinvented the area since I was last a resident.

Any non-discerning patron might blink and miss the unassuming façade, doused in greenery and glass and sporting no obvious signage beyond the mirrored plaque beside the door. And inside, the décor continues the theme with cracked plaster, exposed brick and sanded polished wood that is oh so familiar around Edinburgh yet still maintains a warmth of invitation.

The latter is no doubt down to the bustle Guild of Foresters is able to boast. Clearly a popular spot amongst the locals, we struggled to nab a table without a reservation, advised to wait at the bar if we wanted to hang around and see if the couples who were finishing their coffee intended to leave. Rather than ruffle our feathers, it was actually refreshing to see an eatery not rushing to reclaim tables as soon as the plates were cleared.

The waitress’ instincts on this occasion were spot on and within a few minutes we claimed a table for two by the window.

As this was a lunch stop, we only sampled the one course each. The missus plumped for the Crispy Chilli, Honey Chicken Wings (£6.95), doused in spring onions and chives and accompanied by their Blue Murder Cheese Sauce. To describe how good they were…. my wife is not a chicken wing kinda girl. However….

For myself, I decided since I was by the sea, it had to be fish and chips, and at the Foresters, the only option in this respect is their Deep Fried Peterhead Haddock, with Triple Cooked Chips, chunky Tartare Sauce and Lemon (£11.95 for a full fillet).

Now I’m not the biggest fish ‘n’ chips fan – I’ll only partake if I am buying from a seaside resort where you can be quite confident the fish has probably wriggled straight off the boat and into the deep fat fryer – so when I say the fish was pretty good, I’m sure I’m understating it. The batter was golden and crisp in the main, perhaps a little too much so at one end, but the flavour was nice, not overly greasy and the fish beneath nice and succulent. The chips that accompanied were gorgeous and the tartare sauce a welcome accompaniment.

All in all the visit was an enjoyable one. The menu boasts a solid array of interesting dishes that merit a repeat visit. And the bar, with beer taps hitting the double figures and an awe-inspiring whisky shelf, certainly has us debating whether that’ll be a car or cab job…!

Fantana Score: 7.5

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