This week, we went to dinner on Nicolson Street at Spoon with friends Clare and Martin. Upon arriving we were welcomed by a twinkling Christmas tree and artfully mismatched retro furniture. One of our current favourite bands, Beirut, was playing on the stereo. Spoon's website claims to offer casual fine dining. Good food and good company made for a wonderful evening.
The room is divided into three sections using folding screens which are covered with retro pictures. The middle section where I sat had well lit tables and chairs. Either side were more dimly lit sections and some more casual seating. Sylvia is not good at sitting still so we did some wandering around the cafe to visit the kids section and admire the table tops covered with maps.
When Clare had suggested Spoon, I had agreed because the website is very slick and they serve chips. I regret to say that Sylvia is eating a lot of chips on our trip because it hard to find food she will eat when we dine out. (At least on most evenings she is eating vegetables at our holiday flat.) These ones were lovely home style chunky chips.
Clare chose the tomato and aubergine soup for her starter and I am sure she liked it. When hers arrived I almost wished I had chosen the soup.
But I had been intrigued by the green apple and mull cheddar salad with chicory, baby spinach & pea shoots. I was very pleased with the pretty presentation and loved the mustard vinaigrette on the salad. It was a nice light starter.
My highlight of the meal was the main course. The others had the pre-theatre menu but I chose from the regular dinner menu because I didn't fancy the pre-theatre vegetarian option, mushroom and barley ragout. Instead I chose the stuffed baked aubergine with chickpeas, cumin and paprika potatoes. Aubergine (or eggplant) is either excellent or terrible. This one was superb. Soft and melting with an interesting eggplant filling. The greens and soft roast potatoes underneath were a wonderful accompaniment.
For dessert Clare and I both had the chocolate brownie with creme fraiche. It was rich, gooey with walnut pieces. In fact I found it too sweet until during the last few mouthfuls I ate it with a little of the creme fraiche. The slightly sour cream worked well with the brownie and if I didn't dislike cream so much I probably would have enjoyed my brownie more with the creme fraiche all the way through.
Martin and E chose the goats cheese, chutney and oatcakes. E thought it nice but was a bit full by then. Martin told us he is very fond of Stockan's oatcakes but nevertheless he enjoyed the oatcakes served here.
As well as excellent food, Spoon impressed us in many ways. Sylvia had fun with the kids area. She found a jigsaw and started doing it on the floor by our table. One of the waitresses kindly helped her do it while we ate our dinner. I loved the great attention to detail in the decor. The above photo is of a section that is brilliantly outfitted to look like a retro 1970s loungeroom. Nearby is a display of photos from a project to collect archival photos of Edinburgh. A visit to the toilets was also worthwhile just to read all the old magazines plastered over the walls.
The cafe has an interesting history. In another life the space was Nicolsons, the cafe where J K Rowling spent a lot of time writing her Harry Potter books. According to my dining companions, it has quite a different feel from Nicolsons. My sister-in-law also told me that they do great scones. I just wish we had more time in Edinburgh to hang out there.