Blame my husband’s left knee for me not getting here sooner.
The deal in our relationship is that he gets fed if he agrees to act as my chauffeur – and gives me a brief appraisal of everything he’s eaten – when a place is too far to bus or walk. Unfortunately, a bout of gammy-ness in his clutch leg meant postponing our visit to this venue for a few weeks.
I wasn’t going to cycle this time. I did the epic Mark Beaumont-esque journey along the Union Canal from central Edinburgh, back in 2011.
Not these days. My quads withered to mummified husks a few months after lockdown, when I stopped doing any Belleville Rendezvous-ing at all.
If only we’d known that The Bridge Inn operates a free shuttle bus service from Thursday to Sunday.
It can decant you directly into their fine-dining restaurant, Bridge 15, which opened back in March.
The kitchen is headed by 28-year old chef Tyler King, who has experience at Michelin-starred Prism in Berlin, as well as Number One at The Balmoral and lockdown casualty Castle Terrace Restaurant in Edinburgh.
Despite the starry new addition, they still offer a gastropub menu to those on the cheap seats next door. We were beside the kitchen, and huge Scotch eggs kept appearing before being whisked off into the annex, which was hoaching.
As the designated drinker, I tried the amaretto sour with amaretto, lime, and maraschino cherries (though they’d given us raspberries on the swizzle stick instead).
The foam on top, rather than the usual egg white, was made from the vegan topping of aquafaba – aka chickpea water.
It may be fancy in here, but they don’t go as far as free bread. However, there was an amuse bouche of guinea fowl-filled tartlets topped by a carrot foam, wild garlic and a chiffonade of chives.
Then there was a starter of wild mushroom raviolo (£10.50), which was frilly-edged like a crab’s carapace, with a handful of puffed rice on top. This was surrounded by oriole-coloured blobs of orange and black gel, which turned out to be egg yolk puree interspersed with black garlic.
The hand dived scallop (£14) served on the shell was lovely too. The surface of the fishy stub was blackened with squid ink and crusted with sesame seeds. It came with tiny cornets of daikon that were filled with salty tobiko, as well as citrussy haricot beans and luminous daubs of grapefruit gel and shreds of singed grapefruit.
You don’t get much finer tributes to a single piece of shellfish than that.
My main course was fine-dining in pub portions. The waiter poured a little jug of jus over two huge and rich slabs of pink duck breast (£26.50), and lots of other nibbles. I got slightly lost in it all, but I definitely found some tiny milk-tooth-sized cubes of pear, a sort of crumble-topped celeriac sandwich filled with herby sweet confit duck and bacon. There were nutty bits, almost like praline, on top of celeriac puree, a green balsamic, and chicory leaves.
We’d also gone for the monkfish (£26.50), which was a beautiful and bouncy pool cloud. Again, this plate was majorly busy, thanks to pine-nuts, a vinegary fennel slaw, more of their green balsamic, sliced grapes, samphire, mussels, burnt leek, vermouth sauce and more. There was sweetness, acidity, saline-y sea flavors and popping all over the joint. It was a busy party, like Studio 54, rather than my flat on a Saturday night. I guess he needn’t have put everything on the plate, but I’m not going to argue if someone wants to showcase all their skills at once, like the Danny MacAskill of the kitchen.
The side dish of crushed new potatoes (£5.25) was probably superfluous, after filling up on all that protein, but these were still excellent. They tasted like pure distilled earthy spud, and were flecked with pink peppercorn, spring onion, bacon and brown butter.
Pudding was the apple press (£9.50). This was a simple stack of vaguely cinnamon-y and warm layered pomme, cut thinly and layered up like a dry stone dyke. The accessories were a quenelle of beautifully fruity blackberry sorbet, opalescent apple jelly cubes, halved blackberries and their deepest purple pulp, with just a little sweetness from creamy hazelnut custard blobs.
We were impressed by what we had for dinner, though it was conspicuously quiet in the room.
It seems that Bridge 15 is pitching itself as a destination restaurant, and I hope people start gravitating towards it. Spare your knees and get their bus.
How much? Dinner for two, excluding drinks, £92.25
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.