The name for The Potting Shed is very apt and the decor even more so, but the food is the real jewel in the crown.
The restaurant is owned by the Minto family who know a thing or two about exquisite food. They own at least five, possibly six, eateries across the UK and Spain, including The Sun Inn in Dalkeith.
Their love of food has led them to the decidedly student-oriented part of town, but the offering here may be just a bit above your baked beans on toast!
The menu is a tapas offering of various small dishes from the sea, the land and what is known as ‘ground provisions’ or veg to you and me.
All dishes are the same size and we ordered six between two of us which turned out to be more than ample. Our only regret is that we still don’t know what the starter which is simply entitled Toast and ham butter actually is since we forgot to order it! (Maybe you can tell us when you get along there!)
The first starter of squash and onion fritters which we chose from the Nibbles part of the menu was served beautifully hot and fresh. This was a pakora without too much of an Indian slant, served with tzatziki. It was a great start to what turned out to be a great meal. It is true to say that this was the opening night with a hand-picked audience all testing out the menu, but we enjoyed the attentive service and the delicious food which seemed to be the norm rather than forced for opening night.
Our only gripe, which we fed back to the management who were listening intently, was that the food was served just a little bit too quickly to savour and enjoy at perfect temperature, which they accepted and will reflect in the way the kitchen deals with each food order in future.
The restaurant has been through a number of identities, but The Potting Shed stood out for them among all the ideas the family considered. Ian Minto has been in the catering trade since he was 40. He said that his friends got fed up with him speaking about food. He is a self-taught chef but admits that it is a young man’s trade.
The team of two chefs one of whom trained at the Three Chimneys are passionate about food, which Ian Minto believes is crucial to the success of the restaurant. He has experience in this as the owner of the Sun Inn in Dalkeith which won a Gastropub of the year award in 2011 and offers a carvery style Sunday lunch for £15 a head which is highly prized among those in the know.
There are lovely touches in the way this restaurant has been decorated, with stripped tables, watering cans galore and garden tools on the walls. You really could be in the shed (but with far better fare than a packed lunch!) Unusual and quirky presentation including tin dishes your granny used to have only added to our enjoyment of the meal.
We enjoyed scallops, squid (much bigger than you would ever have imagined), featherblade with shallot and herb relish and the marvellously melt in the mouth short rib and carrot. The shallots were served on a bed of completely and utterly smoother than smooth celeriac which has confounded us. How do they do that? The ribs were served on a bed of smoothened carrots accompanied by the roasted version for variety and interest.
Cabbage bacon and pine nuts may not exactly sound inspirational but the teeny little whole cabbages were served piping hot and were mouthwateringly delish.
Just room to share a Tonka bean creme brulee with cardamom and a couple of crafted coffees.
Then we had to guess how much you would have paid…. that was the hard part!
But our waiter guided us by explaining that none of their dishes are priced at above £10…. So although we can’t tell you how much the whole meal might have cost we can tell you that it was beautifully tasty and very well presented, and probably worth what you will pay for it.
As long as you have well-mannered friends then to share a number of these dishes would be a very good night out and we are certain you will have to book when word gets around.
Although we did not sample them they also serve craft beers so if you try them out then please tell us about them!
The Potting Shed 32-34 Potterrow Edinburgh EH8 9BT opens to the public tomorrow 23 January 2015
See their website here but be aware that the menu tonight was very different from how it looks online!