Edinburgh has no shortage of restaurants, and, for that matter, no shortage of very good restaurants. When chef Gordon Craig and husband and wife team Richard and Rachel Conway came together to open Field Restaurant in Edinburgh's West Nicolson Street in January 2013 it must have been with a degree of trepidation. We visited in late July 2013, just before the Festival swept across the city's landscape, and found a restaurant offering an outstanding dining experience, combining great food with excellent value. Yes, Edinburgh does have plenty of very good restaurants, but Field Restaurant is without doubt one you should seek out and try for yourself.
Field Restaurant can be found on the north side of West Nicolson Street. Quietly unassuming, its narrow grey frontage enlivened by fine arched windows gives little hint of the joys on offer within. Field is a 22 cover restaurant and the interior is intimate and snug, without quite feeling crowded when full (and, as word is getting around, you are likely to find it full: so booking is essential). One wall is dominated by a huge picture of a black bull, obviously a symbolic contributor, directly or indirectly, to the beef dishes on offer. Another is home to a rather nice fireplace.
The restaurant describes its style as "taking the concepts of Michelin standard cuisine, stripping them to the bare essentials and adding a playful element we create an unpretentious yet exciting dining experience that is above all else delish." Both Gordon and Richard have experience of working in Michelin starred establishments, so this is a description which deserves to be taken seriously. And having sampled some of the delights on offer, it's a description we can recognise. The restaurant also prides itself on "taking some world-class wines and offering them at prices that leaves Edinburgh's top-end establishments shamed".
Our own description of what Field Restaurant offers would probably take a different starting point. For us, the food here deliciously bridges the rather wide gap that usually exists between fine dining on the one hand, and "everyday" dining on the other. What this amounts to in practice is food that can at times sound familiar, but which has been elevated to a higher level: yet at prices which you would expect to pay for "everyday" dining.
The dinner we enjoyed shows this off to good effect. Our starters, from a choice of five, were "Fricassée of Wild Mushrooms on Toasted Brioche with Fried Quails Eggs" and "Duck Liver Parfait, Pineapple Chutney and Warm Gingerbread". Both were superb, and the unexpected flavour combinations of the second dish are especially deserving of mention. Our mains, from a choice of seven, were "Maple Glazed Duck Breast with Savoyarde Potatoes, Duck Leg Bon Bon & Pistachio, Cherry Jus", which was simply divine, and "Chorizo Burger with Sweet Potato Chips and Spicy Mayo". As a restaurant reviewer you feel slightly defensive about admitting to ordering burger and chips, and still more to being blown away by what arrives on the plate. But Field's offering is to an ordinary burger and chips what a Ferrari is to a Trabant. The Chorizo Burger, a high quality burger with a lot of chorizo included, was simply the best burger we've ever eaten. And the experience of Field's sweet potato chips was enough to leave this reviewer wondering whether ordinary potato chips would ever seem good enough again.
For sweet we enjoyed a marvellous "Peach Tarte Tatin with Vanilla Ice Cream" and the "Cheesecake of the Day", which we'd been looking forward to since seeing that it was Chocolate Orange in a Tweet by the restaurant earlier in the day.
This is a restaurant you find yourself looking forward to coming back to from the moment you are out of the door. As we said at the end of our own Tweet about the experience, posted shortly after leaving: "We'll be back..."