Popular Old Town restaurant taking its name from head chef Paul Wedgwood who co-founded the restaurant with Lisa Channon.
A marvellous evening at Wedgwood.
Reviewed by Euan Andrews
Thursday, February 28, 2013 - 2:59pm
It is a particularly dreich midweek evening in February, rain pounding off black tarmac as a high wind howls down the High Street. Inside Wedgwood, however, is a welcoming atmosphere of convivial buzz sprinkled with the perfume of light jazz and it’s testament to the skills of chef Paul Wedgwood and his front-of-house team that, on such an appalling evening for venturing out, the restaurant is at near capacity.
Seated at a corner table in this elegantly furnished room with its red and white décor, my glamorous assistant Harriet and I are first given glasses of champagne with amuse bouches to occupy ourselves while we choose from the extensive menu. The simple tasting treats are the perfect canapés, consisting of smoked salmon with beetroot as well as a robust mouthful of rabbit terrine. Superb ciabatta with a garlic-infused olive oil is equally palate-tingling.
For evening service at Wedgwood, starters range from £8-£10 while mains hover around £20. The menu itself is very much 21st century Scottish, with the best of the country’s ingredients and dishes given a modern spin. By sheer coincidence, Harriet chooses seafood options for both her starter and main while I go down the meaty route.
Cubes of confit pork belly are deliciously fatty and full of flavour while the accompanying pairing of black pudding with tartly pickled apple cohere to make this dish a traditional winter warmer brought into the realms of fine dining. My main course of rabbit wrapped in pancetta is even better, tender white rabbit meat perfectly counterbalancing its salty pork coating. Served with spinach, wild mushrooms and a carrot and vanilla puree, this plate is like a beautifully rendered 3D Miro painting, splashes of colour simply leaping up at you.
I’m more than satisfied with my turf, meanwhile the glamorous Harriet is getting stuck into the surf. Lobster thermidor crème brulee is silkily smooth and comes with parmesan shortbread and a particularly terrific bloody mary sorbet, while to follow come mounds of risotto with fillets of sea bass balanced atop, clams and chorizo on the sides.
These dishes are all perfectly balanced and the cooking itself is refreshingly straightforward and perfectly executed. There is nothing here which sets out to confound or provoke the diner, rather Wedgwood’s blueprint is based around the best ingredients turned into exceptional tasting dishes which are also pleasing on the eye. It’s not rocket science, but can still be something of a rarity.
Anyway, full as we both are, there is always room for puddings. The desserts cost no more than £6.50, terrific value for what we receive. My chocolate and peanut butter mousse (a flavour combination of which I am quite the connoisseur) is heavenly and works perfectly with banana and honey ice cream. My glamorous assistant, meanwhile, has decided to take the night off any notion of dieting and goes for the sticky toffee pudding, a huge confection which arrives at our table with steam pouring from it, looking downright decadently inviting.
It’s been an excellent evening of food with friendly and efficient service in a busy room in which it’s clear everyone is having a very nice time indeed. Paul Wedgwood and his team are doing it right and they deserve your patronage.
£10 Challenge: Wedgwood
Reviewed by Euan Andrews
Monday, August 9, 2010 - 1:26pm
Needless to say, if it’s high end dining you’re looking for then you generally don’t get it for £10 or less. There is the odd offer available from Edinburgh’s big boy restaurants, most pleasingly the excellent £25 lunch deal at Tom Kitchin’s Michelin-starred Leith restaurant, but they’re few and far between. So, the prospect of paying minimal prices for lunch at Wedgwood is something to savour.
Paul Wedgwood’s High Street restaurant has been open for a few years and attracted a fair amount of praise and awards. The Royal Mile, it must be said, is not the best place to look for a great meal, being increasingly laden down with tartan tat shops, endless branches of coffee or sandwich chains and cafes seemingly existing solely to exploit both tourists and Scottish traditions.
Wedgwood feels a galaxy away from such vulgarity, an oasis of good taste on a world-famous street currently sinking under its low ambitions. It’s quite a small restaurant but elegantly fitted out so as to maximise the space available. Waiting staff are welcoming and ever-attentive, always noticing when glasses need refilling, and the presence of a fish knife when required displays the level of refinement on offer.
While the basic two lunch courses cost £10, there are little extras on offer. £2 seems a small price to pay for the ciabatta to drizzle with olive oil flavoured with pungently roasted garlic. While Mother abstains from the starter, I have the smoked salmon, crème fraiche and anchovy roulade with cucumber salad and beetroot “paint”. The roulade makes for a pleasantly light and cooling dish for a warm summer day and the smear of beetroot paint is of an almost berry-like sweetness, extracting a full flavour from a somewhat maligned vegetable.
Mother is equally impressed with her main course of gnocchi with butternut squash, chanterelle mushrooms, crème fraiche and pesto. The gnocchi has been delicately toasted, thereby giving a crisp outer finish to these occasionally stodgy potato dumplings. My monkfish with pork belly and spinach is, however, a revelation. Easily the best plate of food I have eaten in weeks (and I’ve been eating a lot recently, as my rapidly expanding girth displays), there isn’t enough praise I can heap upon this excellent dish. The monkfish comes in chunky, meaty goujons while the trio of pork belly chunks are little parcels of salty, fatty heaven. Beneath these is the cleanser of wilting spinach, all three components melting into a delicious cider sauce. The only criticism I can give is that, having devoured it, I instantly want more. This is, of course, no criticism at all.
For dessert, Mother goes for the cherry and vanilla smoothie which comes, silky smooth indeed, in a martini glass with pistachio cookies on the side. On a roll from the monkfish, I decide to upgrade and have a third course, taking my total up to £13. Unfortunately, my rhubarb and berry crumble seems to have been somewhat deconstructed. While the rhubarb and berry stew is full of flavour, the crumble element is a rather sad trickle of crumbs to one side of the plate. Some things just shouldn’t be deconstructed, and rhubarb crumble is one of them.
But this little slip-up at the end is swiftly forgotten and I spend the rest of the afternoon raving to everyone I encounter about monkfish and pork belly. Wedgwood is very much a restaurant on an upward curve and it’s debatable how long they’ll be willing to charge such incredible lunch prices. Grab it, with both hands and an open mouth, while you can.