City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Salisbury Arms

Average Rating:
Restaurant Photos
Photo of the Salisbury Arms Edinburgh restaurant
Restaurant profile
Edinburgh Area: 
Newington, Edinburgh
Serving times: 
Mon-Thu: 11:00-00:00; Fri-Sat 11:00-01:00; Sun: 12:30-11:00
(0131) 667 4518
Restaurant Established: 

Remade.  Remodelled.  The Salisbury Arms revamped as a serious Newington food spot.

The Reviews


Remade. Remodelled. The Salisbury Arms revamped as a serious Newington food spot.

Reviewed by Euan Andrews

Thursday, September 29, 2011 - 1:43pm

Once there stood, in the shadow of Salisbury Crags and across the road from the Commonwealth Pool, a somewhat insalubrious boozer where one could always be sure of a pint of not particularly great lager, possibly a plate of scampi & chips and most definitely a fairly dismal time. It was a spot in a large old building, set back from the road and complete with its own car park, simply screaming to be upgraded to something more worthy of its situation.

Finally, that has happened with the rebirth of the Salisbury Arms as a winning combination of local pub and destination restaurant. The vast bar area is styled in a blend of vintage oak panelling and modern design deco, creating a space which feels light and airy during the day yet cosily shadow-filled in the evening. The restaurant area, to the right hand side of the bar, is more formally attired and dominated by a large central open fireplace.

It’s only 5.30pm when M and I stroll up for dinner and the restaurant is yet to fill up, so we take up a table in the bar area where a few diners and drinkers are already gathered. The menu we are presented with is almost dauntingly vast. High end restaurant food mingles with “pub classics”, sharing platters, light snacks and even a substantial extra list of daily specials. It’s difficult to know where to begin, and makes me wonder how they can possibly pull off a near total of 50 dishes on a daily basis. The ethos of something for everyone can often backfire spectacularly.

One thing which is reassuring about the menu, however, is the firm emphasis on British and European dishes. Instead of the jumbled global cohesion of so many similarly large menus in which steak pies nestle uncomfortably next to Thai green curries and Mexican nachos, head chef Denis Guillonneau, ex of Leith’s much-missed Daniel’s, stays very much focused on high quality gastropub Euro-grub.

M decides to try the specials menu while I stick with the main selection. Our effervescent waitress is always ready to explain any questions about the dishes with a knowledge displaying excellent awareness of all the food on offer. No rushing off to the kitchen to ask a quick question, she remains very much on the ball for the duration of our meal, as do all the waiting staff who stay unflappable and ever polite when the bar begins to fill up with large, expectant parties.

M begins with a chicken and black pudding terrine with apple chutney, a fine appetiser course indeed. My starter, however, makes me suddenly realise how much of a winner we’re on to here. Plump lambs’ kidneys in a rich mustard sauce with a selection of mushrooms all piled atop perfectly crunchy toasted ciabatta are quite exceptional. The kidneys themselves have not a hint of toughness and are juicily pink in the middle. It’s a joy to see good offal treated with the respect it deserves.

Our mains are equally notable. M’s choice from the special of duck confit with shallots, beans and carrots is a large, bubbling bowl of melting-off-the-bone meat. For myself, I have baked cod with new potatoes, clams and chorizo. It’s surf ‘n’ turf done to perfection, a slab of luscious cod with crispy skin atop a cauldron of clams and chorizo in a Spanish-flavoured broth. Just writing that sentence makes me want to go and eat it again.

After these triumphs, desserts are a wee bit of a let down. I’m quite happy with my treacle and ginger tart with clotted cream, basic though it is, but M is slightly unimpressed with her lemon meringue pie. Instead of the expected crisp shell topping, the “pie” is soft and has had the meringue look simply browned on with a blow-torch.

So, a slight hiccup at the end, but on the whole the Salisbury Arms is well worth visiting for an evening dinner, a pub lunch or a big Sunday do. In trying to be all things to everyone, it almost succeeds. I should also mention an excellent wine list with reasonable prices and a fine selection of ales. The Salisbury Arms deserves to become a popular location and, going by the bustle and chatter on a blustery mid-September Wednesday evening, it’s already on its way to that.