City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

La Garrigue in the New Town


Average Rating:
5
Restaurant Photos
Photo of the Edinburgh restaurant
Restaurant profile
Edinburgh Area: 
New Town, Edinburgh
Serving times: 
Mon-Sat: 12:00-14:00, 18:00-21:00 Sun: 12:30-20:00
Telephone: 
0131 558 1608
Restaurant Established: 
11

The sister restaurant of popular La Garrigue, this eaterie started life as L’Artichaut in 2009, a vegetarian restaurant with a French theme. In November 2010, owner Jean-Michel Gauffre announced that the restaurant would not be continuing as an exclusively vegetarian restaurant.


The Reviews

5

Renowned French classic arrives on the other side of town.

Reviewed by Euan Andrews

Thursday, February 10, 2011 - 3:39pm

Over the past ten years Jeffrey Street’s La Garrigue has steadily built up a loyal following of regulars who don’t need Gordon Ramsay’s endorsement to tell them that this is French food from the rural Languedoc region made to the highest order.

But the restaurant’s recent runner-up position in the French category on Channel 4’s Ramsay’s Best Restaurant enabled it to deservedly attract yet more clientele keen to sample the excellent cooking of chef Jean Michel Gauffre. Yet while La Garrigue went from strength to strength, sister restaurant L’Artichaut struggled and, less than a year since opening, has now metamorphosed into a second La Garrigue in the heart of Edinburgh’s New Town.

While Gauffre’s passion for L’Artichaut’s culinary regime was evident, the concept of a French vegetarian restaurant always seemed somewhat incongruous although it is clearly a venture he wishes to return to at a future date. This bitter sweet failure now means twin La Garrigues on either side of the Old/New Town divide. Visiting La Garrigue in the New Town on a Saturday lunchtime in January, it was hard to believe this was a restaurant which had at that point only been open for a week. The dining room was buzzing with life, with only the faintest lingering smell of fresh paint giving any hint that this wasn’t a well established old favourite.

There is a friendly welcoming atmosphere immediately on entering, with service ably provided by the three-pronged front of house team. La Garrigue’s immediately recognisable furnishings and crockery are evident and the whole ambience is similar to sitting in a friend’s well populated front room. Excellent bread was immediately placed before M and I as we considered our choices. While M pondered out loud as to the provenance of a certain ingredient, the ever attentive staff proved their worth and, having overheard the query in passing, straightaway explained precisely how this element was used in the dish. In some restaurants this could have seemed somewhat overbearing, but here it simply felt graciously helpful.

It was decided to go for terrines all round for our starters. M’s was of a watercress and salsify variety, a beautiful vibrantly green slab served with a deliciously oily egg dressing, reminiscent of the kind of vegetarian dish L’Artichaut at its best would serve. Being the eternal carnivore, I went for the smoked ham hock terrine which was marvellously meaty (as well as beaty, big and bouncy), perfectly moulded together with savoury jelly, and presented with lentils and a mustard dressing. So far, the new La Garrigue was certainly as impressive as the original.

For my main course, the pan fried sea bream was beautifully cooked and complemented by a mound of spicy camargue rice with mussels. M also enjoyed her rustic pie of lambs’ kidneys with leeks, mustard and potatoes, although she did feel some of the kidneys could have been better removed of their hard cores. Still, in lean times for us all, Gauffre is to be commended for including dishes based around less used cuts of meat and M still pronounced the dish as “offally good” (ahem).

The ever effusive waitress complimented me on clearing my plate, good lad that I am, and hoped that I had left room for dessert. Well, of course, and my walnut tart with raspberry fondant and coffee ice cream topped with a toasted walnut was possibly the highlight of the meal. Speaking as a diner without much of a sweet tooth, it is always a revelation to find, following two already outstanding courses, that top prize is taken at the end by pudding. M was equally impressed with her lemon tart. However, it should be pointed out there are plenty of starters and desserts on offer which do not involve being either a terrine or tart!

I’ve dined at the Jeffrey Street branch of La Garrigue several times and never failed to be impressed (frankly, Jean, you were robbed on that Gordon Ramsay show). Today’s meal, incredibly, topped them all. £15.50 for a three course lunch of such top class quality and with accompanying note-perfect service is terrific value. La Garrigue in the New Town is an instant success and if you live in the area then you’re very lucky people. Go visit your new favourite neighbourhood restaurant.