Leith has had a long track record for producing great restaurants; with 3 Michelin Star eateries in the area alone restaurateurs are doing something right down at the shore. So when TLE were invited to Leith’s newest opening; Anfora Wine Bar we knew we’d be in for a good evening out.
Anfora Wine Bar is set in Scotland’s oldest commercial building (formerly the Vintners Room). The idea for the space was a combination of the former vaults of Anfora wine bar being were French wines in the 1600s were brought off the ships docking at the shore; tasted and then sold onto merchants in the city. And Zak Hanif, the owners desire to offer Edinburgh a wine bar along the same style as Vinoteco and the Green Man in London and voila Anfora Wine Bar was born.
The space is split into two areas, the informal brasserie and bar that serves the full À la carte menu as well as a weekend brasserie menu and the beautifully intimidate formal dining area seating eight tables.
We visited Anfora on a Friday night, the space was alive with customers and the music was just perfect, Amy Winehouse was playing in the background – a great atmosphere for a restaurant.
The menu follows the four seasons, we had just moved into the summer menu, which was developed by head chef Attila Horvath (previously sous chef in Michelin starred Chapters restaurant). Zak the owner also wanted a menu that uses locally produced ingredients, that are in season and can be enjoyed with organic and biodynamic wines from small producers. So mass production is most definitely not on the menu.
Another element of the menu I liked is that each dish on the menu has a suggested wine pairing, with such a beautiful selection of wine it is nice to be able to take the guesswork out of what will work with what dish.
We started with an amuse bouche of freshly made focaccia and rosemary and a glass of champagne.
I had the tartar of heritage tomatoes with soft boiled quail egg, parmesan crisp & basil (£7.00) and my guest enjoyed the Wood pigeon breast, orange, carrot & vanilla puree, baby beetroot & blackberries (£7.00). My dish was paired with a Sauvignon Colombard, Cotes De Gascogne 175ml (£6 .00) and the Pigeon went with Ciello Rosso, Nero D’Avola from Sicily 175ml (£5.50).
I wasn’t sure initially what to think about my starter, it looks quite simple, but actually the tastes were very complex, the flavours of the different tomato varieties are incredible, it is quite light but very satisfying.
The pigeon, I was told by my dining partner was perfect and the earthiness of the beetroot and fruitiness of the raspberry complimented the richness of the pigeon.
I was in love with every bite of my main course. I had the Pan-fried tofu, summer vegetable ragout, honey & soy dressing (£15.00) which was paired with the Chardonnay Peninsula, Crittenden Estate 175ml (£13.00). The tofu was wonderful, the honey soy glaze really brought the tofu to life, two generous portions were stacked on top of a the summer ragout, which had flavours of basil and dill coming through and bite from the marrow fat peas and spring onion gave the dish texture – definitely a good vegetarian option!
And my dining partner had the rump of lamb, ragout of peas, broad beans, red peppers & salt baked turnips (£18.00) paired with the Chateaneuf Du Pape, Rhone 175ml (£14.50). I was told it was perfectly cooked (the waiter did ask for the cooking preference when ordering), the lamb flavours were balanced with the ragout and the pea stalks were a nice addition.
Desserts were no let down and in fact we had three to try… how greedy. I went straight for the selection of cheeses with homemade chutney, bread & seasonal fruit (£9.50) and we also had the Pistachio & olive oil cake, salted caramel flakes & glazed apricots (£7.50) as well as the Elderflower mousse, summer-berries & shortbread (£7.50)
The cheeses were incredible – needless to say the board was wiped clean! If you like cheese this is a winning cheese board. I am not much of a fruit fan, but even I liked the Elderflower mousse with summer berries, this is a real winner and definitely a nice light summer dessert. The Olive oil cake was nice, but not my personal favourite.
TLE Final Thoughts
We had a great time at Anfora Wine Bar. A restaurant offering such a high standard of food and wine in such an exquisite setting and run by such passionate individuals deserves to do well. We recommend a visit to Anfora – make sure you book in advance.
Anfora is listed in our Edinburgh’s best restaurant guide.
Address: 87a Giles Street, Edinburgh EH6 6BZ