Tucked away in a quiet side street between the Meadows and Bruntsfield in Edinburgh is a little gem - La Petite Mort. Behind its stylish but unassuming frontage this cosy restaurant really punches above its weight.
Staff are welcoming and the service is excellent - attentive enough to ensure that the diner's every need is met, but not too intrusive. Ask a question or seek guidance and the staff are knowledgeable. They love to eat the food too, so you feel assured that if they say it is good, it will be. We started our evening with an "Aviation" cocktail, chosen from a list of six tempting choices. Delivered in a porthole-style vessel, this requires some advance planning because the spirits and botanicals are all placed in the porthole 24 hours in advance in order to infuse ready for drinking the next day. Beautifully presented and perfectly chilled, the "Aviation" comprises Eden Mill Love Gin, crème de violette, maraschino cherry liqueur, lemon juice, infused with cherries, berries and lemon. The end result is a triumph. The sharp citrus is mellowed by the addition of the violet and cherry liqueurs, the drink is subtlely multilayered and very moreish.
We chose starters of "assiette of beetroot, a beetroot pave, roast golden, braised & pickled purple and julienne candied with goats cheese mousse", and "leek wrapped duck comprising a foie gras & pistachio terrine with a prune & port puree and pickled radicchio." Both came freshly prepared and were very flavoursome. The terrine was packed with tender duck laced with pistachio nuts for added texture and the foie gras at its heart was delicious. Add in the piquancy of the pickled radicchio and the sweetness of the puree and this made a lovely dish. The beetroot dish was complemented by a smooth, sharp goats cheese mousse and ate well with the warm turmeric and poppy seed bread which was in that day's bread basket.
We chose a house red wine to accompany our meal labelled "the guv'nor". Beautifully mellow, it matched both mains well and provided pleasant drinking throughout the meal. For our main course we chose "roast pork belly with black pudding & basil mashed potato, smoked pork collar croquette, buttered kale and a honey and apple jus" and "roast rump of lamb with beetroot dauphinoise potatoes, butternut puree, buttered asparagus and a mint jus". The pork belly was lean and perfectly cooked and the smoked croquette really packed a punch. There was just the right amount of black pudding and seasoning in the creamy mash and the kale was perfectly cooked. The lamb dish was equally good with excellent accompaniments and not too much beetroot for a diner who had also chosen to have a beetroot starter.
The dessert course was eagerly anticipated by this pair of diners, who will freely admit to having a bit of a thing about sweets and puddings! We chose the "dark chocolate delice with praline disk, white Russian cream and nutella ice cream" and the "salted caramel baked Alaska with dehydrated apple and honeycomb" and were not disappointed. The delice was rich and chocolately and was perfectly matched with the white Russian cream and nutella ice cream which both cut through the richness and balanced the dish. The baked Alaska was to die for, and surprisingly light. The salted caramel ice cream sitting atop a light sponge was clothed in a delicious scorched Italian meringue. The plate was decorated with swirls of caramel sauce, fresh berries, apple pieces and the lightest melt in the mouth honeycomb.
Coffee was offered and one of us finished with a deep, rich espresso. The other diner admits to finishing off the last of the "Aviation" cocktail!
La Petite Mort proved to be a real find and is somewhere we will definitely return to. Whilst the range of choices on the menu is smaller than you might find in some restaurants, the quality of the dishes and the opportunity to choose something that you might not otherwise consider, more than repays itself. The dinner menu when we visited offered three starters, five mains and three sweets plus cheese. The food is fresh, packed with flavour, the dishes well rounded and the quality exceptional. The atmosphere is great and the tables are sufficiently far apart that, even in a relatively small dining room as it is, that you never feel too close to your fellow diners. The staff are professional and keen to offer the best dining experience to each and every diner; nothing is too much trouble. And, for city dining, the prices are excellent.