We don’t often get the chance to review somewhere that is literally a stones throw from our doorstep so it was a treat to review the Riparian Rooms two weeks ago, which is now the latest edition to Broughton streets buzzing local business scene.
Sitting on what was formerly Italian restaurant Locanda de Gusti, this one year labour of love renovation by local residents Neil Robb and Lynne Ritchie was well worth the wait. Rich interiors with a Scottish theme are warm and inviting, a menu created by head chef Gary Cromie who has worked at Langhams in London & the Waldorf Astoria in New York brings a fresh approach to locally produced dishes and restaurant manager Peter Adshead’s expert knowledge of wines has created the perfect drinks menu to finish off the offering.
So what is a Riparian?
To get one thing that Neil and Lynne probably get asked on a daily basis out of the way – where did the name come from. Well Riparian is simply the bank of a river and the name ties in perfectly with the location because Broughton street was once a river (and technically still is as the water runs underground now). So the Riparian Rooms sit on the exact spot of the river bank.
What’s on offer?
Neil and Lynne haven’t come from a traditional catering background but they saw a need/gap in the market to create a restaurant that feels like a home from home and in their own words.
“Somewhere guests can come and make it what they want it to be. Whether its eating breakfast at 4pm or cake and a cocktail at 1pm we want to accommodate our guests anytime of the day”
The menu focuses heavily on Scottish local products, which are in season and with 5 starters, 7 mains, as well as shellfish and sharing boards there is plenty of choice. We started with the Cullen Skink (£5.95) and Crispy pumpkin bites with cubes of Dunsyre Blue cheese, sage butter and caramelised almond (£6.50) and my eating partner for the evening Kirsty had a side of Loch Fyne oysters with shallot & red wine vinegar (£2.95 each).
The starters were delicious, the vegetarian option was creative, I especially loved the burnt butter finish to the dressing. Unlike many vegetarian dishes that often do the rounds though had gone into the dish, perhaps a little small, but quality over quantity is the name of the game here.
If you like oysters you are in for a treat – Kirsty said the sharpness of the vinegar and lemon was the perfect accompaniment to the fresh Loch Fyne oyster and the Cullen Skink was just perfect.
For mains we had Pan fried sea bass on cherry tomatoes, sautéed baby potatoes green beans and rocket oil (£13.95) and Layered confit & purée of butternut squash, poached duck egg, wild Scottish mushrooms topped with truffled crispy potato (£12.95).
The pan fried seabass went down well with Kirsty and I loved my butternut squash dish. Again I liked the thought that went into the vegetarian dish, it was so tasty it would even suit a meat eater too.
For dessert we had the Salted caramel and dark chocolate bar, vanilla bean ice cream (£4.95) and a Selection of fine Scottish cheese, apple & cider chutney, fine homemade oatcakes and walnut bread (£7.95). I can’t resist a cheese board and this one didn’t disappoint, loaded with 4 good portions of local cheeses and crackers it was in my option a great way to finish off the dinner.
The restaurant has an extensive wine menu, however we opted for the house Mureda Ecologico Blanco organic white (£17.95 per bottle) but Peter restaurant manager has some suggestions for pairing up dishes if you are visiting.
“What I really enjoy with the Layered confit and puree of butternut squash is the Falerio from Italy. This is from the Marche region in Italy and is made predominately from the Ugni Blanc grape along with the fantastically named Passerina & Pecorino grapes! The resulting wines is wonderful to the nose with lemon, slight honeyed tones along with a beautiful fennel background which picks up on the sage in the dish. The palate is rich and full without being buttery, which results from clever wine making.”
“I love our oxtail dish its flavour is deep and rich and full of flavour and for the wine it is an easy match! I love the Shiraz Mourvedre from the Western Cape in South Africa. Taking inspiration from the Rhone valley the Shiraz has a little addition of Mourvedre, the bouquet has the Shiraz Brambley Spice shining through with a little freshness of raspberries. The Mourvedre brings a little bush shrub herbaceousness to the blend. The palate is deliberately low on acidity following the Southern Rhone approach allowing the wine to ease over your taste buds.”
If you are just looking for a drink and snack the building is also deceivingly large and the downstairs cellars have been changed into a bar area so you don’t need to try just come to the Riparian rooms for a main meal it is perfect for a light bite with one of their sharing plates, or just a drink on its own.
The Riraprian Rooms are open Monday to Sunday, 8am to late and well worth a visit.
Call: 0131 556 6102
Address: 7-11 East London Street, Edinburgh, EH7 4BN