“By night one way, by day another…” (ok it’s Christmas and I’ve had to endure my annual dose of the green ogre movie – ha ha!) but that surely sums up this hidden gem in the beautiful village of Balerno in Edinburgh.
By day a village Post Office and café, and by night on a Friday and Saturday, what I could and would only describe as a first class bistro. Run by Steven, Sharon and Ali Carlyle, this is the second time I have had the pleasure of dining in this unique setting.
First things first…and an important point to note if you like the odd tipple…it is BYOB. A minimal £2 corkage charge is added, but if you have sussed out the menu beforehand, either on their website or Facebook page, you can make a judgement of what you would prefer to bring along to drink. If like me, and variety is the spice of life, I always find a bottle or two of red and white, more than covers it!!*
Anyway, back to the food… a well planned and thought out menu awaited us, with starters ranging from £5 to £13 and mains from £12 to £18. To be honest I could have happily shut my eyes and pointed to anything, and know that I would have enjoyed my selection.
A beautiful Scottish crab salad, sourced from the Shetlands, with pink grapefruit, radish, lime and chervil, made for a very refreshing starter. All of the elements worked in perfect harmony, with the sweetness of the soft and delicate crab meat pulling the dish together, to create a delicious dish.
I have included both mains in the review, as there were stand out features on both. A pan roasted pheasant breast from the Highland Estates with parsnip puree, buttered kale and roasted carrots was tender and seasoned well, with a smooth puree. The cider braised Scottish pig cheeks from Ayrshire, with creamy mash, Stornaway black pudding and smoked bacon and apple was a triumph. The pig cheeks literally ‘melted in your mouth’ and all the well thought out ingredients brought the dish together, to create what I can only describe as a ‘hug on plate’.
I think the only criticism I can make about the meal, is actually on presentation which just occasionally could have been improved. I am not quite sure the sheer amount of mashed potato was required on the one dish. Whilst the jus on both dishes although tasty, looked a little watery when plating on black, and made the food appear that it was swimming!
- The fresh and seasonal ingredients are locally sourced and the bistro takes great pride in working with local producers.
- The personal customer service you receive is second to none – Steven and Sharon go all out to make you feel welcome. It is a friendly restaurant with a cosy atmosphere, which leaves you with a warm feeling inside *note to self that may be due to the sheer amount of wine consumed though!
- It was fantastic to speak to Chef Ali afterwards. I always believe a Chef with that much passion and enthusiasm about the dishes he prepares and after a busy service deserves to go far…and evidently at this young age he is set to go places!
Would I go again?
I feel another post coming on as I type when I visit in May 2017…does that answer your question!
Would I recommend The Letterbox Bistro?
That would be a resounding yes, yes and yes again. If you are ever in Edinburgh it is worth travelling just out of the city centre for a relaxed and thoroughly enjoyable dining experience. I would say you do need to book though – seating just over 20, you wouldn’t want to be disappointed…
“By night one way, by day another…this shall be the norm. Until you find true love’s first kiss and then… take love’s true form”…well if that’s in the form of a dark chocolate tart with a rather large bowl of whipped cream from The Letterbox Bistro…it’s time to pucker up!!
Address | 36 Main Street, Balerno, Edinburgh, EH14 7EH
Web | www.letterboxbistro.com