Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Talented Young Chef In Edinburgh, Scotland

Friends are heading to Edinburgh, Scotland this spring and I keep meaning to email with a don't miss restaurant recommendation for them. Fried food, mushy veggies, and standard pub fare can be found on every corner, but Edinburgh also has a very sophisticated restaurant scene. Local and organic is easy to come by in a country with so many natural resources and such extreme beauty.

Michael Neave is a very young (young!) and incredibly talented chef who made the bold move to open his eponymous restaurant in 2012. Young as in if he were in the US he would just barely be allowed to drink the whiskey he stocks behind the bar. But his sophisticated menu and delicious dishes could easily be mistaken for creations of someone twice (or triple) his age.

Michael Neave Kitchen & Whiskey Bar is just off the Royal Mile, down a very big hill on Old Fishmarket Close. We passed it by a few times on our wanderings and since they had us at "Whiskey Bar" we decided it was the perfect place for cocktails. The sleek bar is at street level (the hill is so steep that the downstairs dining room also is at street level) and there is a cozy terrace perfect for drinks under a moody Edinburgh sky.

We were happy to sink into the low leather couches after a full day exploring the National Museum of Scotland. The boys brought along some activity books and Mr. C&G hung out at the bar discussing single malts with the very knowledgeable bartender. The cocktail menu is a bit shorter than the whiskey menu but there are plenty of tasty things to choose from. We ordered a few bar snacks to go with our cocktails (we skipped the haggis bon bons) and tried to come up with a plan for dinner.

I had looked at the website before we headed out for cocktails and I was really impressed by Mr. Neave's heartfelt enthusiasm for wanting to share and showcase the best of Scotland in his restaurant but I worried there wouldn't be anything for the boys to choose from. Over cocktails we chatted with the waitstaff as they were picking up drink orders from the busy bartender and they assured us the chef would be happy to accommodate the boys.

As we descended the stairs into the dining room we all smiled at the boy in the kitchen who looked far too young to be in charge. Little C&G proved a bit of a challenge for our charming waitress when he found out there was no pasta in the kitchen. Strangely enough his other favorite food is smoked salmon and she was happy to offer him smoked salmon and focaccia toasts. Big C&G and I split the Aberdeen Angus steak (amazing) and they happily plated it on two full plates so we didn't have to duel with our sharp steak knives. Mr. C&G had a local venison with a whiskey sauce that he still talks about to this day.

We had an amazing and authentically Scottish meal at Michael Neave Kitchen & Whiskey Bar, and I know my foodie friend will appreciate the talents of this young chef. Now if I could just work out a way to accompany her and her family on their trip . . .

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