05 Sep REVIEW: No. 11 Brasserie
In the great pantheon that is the Edinburgh dining scene, No. 11 Brasserie would be forgiven for flying under the radar. It’s location on Brunswick Street means it isn’t situated in the kind of central thoroughfare that would garner an inquisitive double-take, nor does it promote itself in the same way many Edinburgh bistros, cafes and restaurants do that might nurture a strong word-of-mouth following.
No. 11’s tactic seems to be to remain a Groupon regular, offering up a consistent invitation to the masses to essentially come along, try them out for yourself and let the food do the talking.
And so we did. And so it did.
At the entryway we were greeted by the lovely maître de, who gave us the choice of table in their partially filled dining room. We chose a window seat between two couples as we prefer an ambience and the half-full room suggested otherwise. We needn’t have worried, however, as within the following thirty minutes the place was all but full.
Although the Groupon offer meant we were confined to a set course menu with limited options (although the a’la carte menu was available with attached surcharges), there was a good balance of options, covering meat, fish and veg. And had we chosen to stray off-piste, the a’la carte was quite enticing also, particularly in the Mains category.
In the end we were both in a meaty mood and chose the same courses; Confit of Duck Leg Bon-bons, followed by Crispy Pan-fried Pork Cheeks (usually £17.95 for two courses at lunch, or £21.95 at dinner (+£6 for 3 courses)).
The bon-bons came served with a spiced rhubarb sauce and leaves, the sauce complimenting the Hoisin flavour of the duck nicely. The coating was just the right amount of crisp but, if I was being picky (and a bit of a gannet) I would have preferred one more on the plate. Still they were a good starter and tasted rather good.
The main was where it was at though. I can’t say no to pork cheeks so this was always a given, however the accompaniments were knew to me and worked ever so well. Sat on a bed of chickpea and caraway seed hummus (delightful!) and served with roasted carrots and aubergine, paprika and honey fritters (ooft!), every mouthful was a cacophony of flavour.
In both courses the meat was just on the right side of overdone. To look at, it seemed entirely possible the imminent mouthfuls might have been dry and chewy, however not so as this turned out to be a cunning ruse that saw the weight of expectation subverted by moist and flavoursome meat that was only enhanced by the fact it was unexpected. Books, covers and all that.
Accompanying our food (and part of the voucher) were two rather refreshing Raspberry Bellinis and yes, we did go the whole hog. The voucher was for three courses, so in three courses we did partake and it was here that opinions were split. I opted for the Dark Chocolate and Grand Marnier Mousse, while the missus went for the Traditional Cranachan, both lovely in their own right and oh-so well presented, but I think I won out on the day.
We had been once before but the visit had not been as memorable as this. Between courses I managed to spy the fillet steak being delivered to our neighbours and man that looked good! I’m not sure a three course meal is needed each and every time, but I will certainly be returning when such a handsome steak is an option.
Staff were delightful throughout, all under the expert tutelage of the maître de, who is clearly passionate about delivering a warming and professional service. Look forward to seeing them again.