Restaurant Review: Southside Scran, Edinburgh (November 2019)

SouthSide Scran Tom Kitchin

[Tom Kitchin at Southside Scran]

The Auld alliance is alive and kicking at Southside Scran
bistro in the affluent Bruntsfield district of Edinburgh.  Opened by chef Tom Kitchin in November 2018, it
combines the ambience of a French bistro with the cuisine of a Scottish master chef.
It is the third of his venues in the capital, alongside his eponymous Michelin
starred restaurant in Leith and the Scran and Scallie gastropub in Stockbridge,
which holds a Bib Gourmand.         .

The attractive, spacious interior, designed by Michaela
Kitchin, evokes a distinctly Parisian feel, enhanced by French background music.
Plain wooden and tiled floors, mirrors and brass fittings, including an impressive
mesh screen, blend harmoniously with the dark green and brown colour scheme. Different
table arrangements in the split level dining area are paired with a variety of
seating, featuring comfortable banquettes and classic bistro chairs in a range
of materials and textures.  

Southside Scran Interior

[Southside Scran Interior]

Natural light cascading through the wide picture windows
give the restaurant a bright airy feel.  At night, cleverly positioned wall, pendant
and spot lighting, together with a roaring fire in the bar area, give the restaurant
a comforting, snug feel, especially in winter. 

Pride of place must go to a magnificent Maestro Rotisserie,
a boon for daily poultry, meat and fish dishes.

Southside Scran Head CHef Hearty Derlet and Head Waiter Diego Carrozzo

[Head Chef Hearty Derlet and FoH leader for the evening Diego Carrozzo]

Hearty Derlet, Head Chef, comes from the Kitchin fold, having
spent two years in Leith before moving to China and returning for the bistro’s
opening as sous chef, before being promoted. Leading a team of seven, he
ensures that Tom Kitchin’s philosophy of “From Nature to Plate” is given full
expression in the varied menu. This involves the sourcing of the finest, mainly
Scottish, seasonal ingredients as the basis for cooking French bistro style
dishes. Consistency in cooking standards is maintained through limited opening
– Wednesday to Sunday lunch and dinner – relieving pressure on the kitchen, and
a modest range of dishes, each of which can be perfected.

The November menu featured four starters, £12.50 to £18;
five “From the Land”, £16 to £26; three “From the Sea,” £15.50 to £19.50 and
fish of the day at market price; three salads in two sizes; four vegetarian
dishes, £8 to £14; eight sides all £4.50; and five desserts, £8.50 each. To
these are added daily starter and main “specials.” Prices are fair and realistic
given the outstanding quality of the produce, the skill in cooking, the
generous portions, the well-judged service and the refined surroundings. They
also compare favourably with similar restaurants in Edinburgh. For those on a
more limited budget, a set lunch (3/4 courses (Including cheese) for £21.50/29.50),
with three choices in each course, offers excellent value for money with no
reduction in the standard of the cooking.

Heading the front of house team on the Saturday lunch time we
visited was Diego Carrozzo, another veteran of the Kitchin fold, whose
undoubted charm was matched by his extensive knowledge of food and wine. His
warm, welcoming, relaxed yet professional service quickly put us at our ease

Our lunch began with a good selection of nibbles: crisp
baguette with good butter; a well flavoured, smooth chicken liver mousse with
calvados jelly, homemade crisps and cornichons. Whilst lesser establishments
often charge for these basics, here they are offered freely.

Southside Scran Salmon Raviolo

A first course of salmon raviolo featured exemplary thin
pasta encasing a generous, well-seasoned, textured filling of the subtle
tasting fish. Balancing this was a vibrant, deeply flavoured, rich yet not too
creamy shellfish bisque. An acid test of an accomplished kitchen, this passed
with flying colours.

Southside Scran Crab Pancake

The earthiness of an open, thin chickpea pancake worked well as the base for the beautifully fresh white meat of Newhaven crab. This was spiked with as a well-judged oriental kick of chilli, ginger and coriander’ which did not overwhelm the delicate crab. It was also pleasing to see good use made of the brown meat in a mayonnaise served separately. Little gem lettuce added the crisp salad texture the dish needed.

Southside Scran Veal Sweetbreads

A “special” of veal sweetbreads saw this delectable piece of
offal accurately timed to produce a   caramelised crust and soft, smooth, creamy
flesh. Roasted and pureed pumpkin gave an earthy sweetness which contrasted
with the mild, savoury taste of the sweetbreads. Soft pillows of sautéed
gnocchi added substance to the dish which was finished with crisp sage leaves
and pumpkin seeds. Overall, this was a beautifully conceived and well executed

Southside Scran Mallard en Croute

Scottish mallard en croute from the main menu was not a dish
for the faint hearted. The two very generous slices comprised a meal  in itself; had I known, I would not have ordered
a starter. With a mild gamey flavour and slightly coarse texture, the fatless breast
and leg meat of this wild duck, together with a vegetable farce, was wrapped en
crepinette and pancetta, before being covered with puff pastry. The result was
moist, tender meat encased in a crisp, flaky, golden crust with no soggy
bottom. Finished with a smooth, gently sweet parsnip pure and a rich red wine
reduction, this was a tour de force
of game cookery.


A whole small turbot, expertly cooked on the plancha grill, was deftly skinned and filleted at the table by Diego, adding a little theatre to the service. The large flakes of the gleaming white flesh retained their moistness, and it was good to see the often overlooked but delicious cheeks also being served. Sauce Grenobleoise, with its beurre noisette, lemon and capers gave a rich and sharp lift to the mild flavoured fish; brown shrimps added a stronger seafood note and croutons gave a contrasting crispness.   

Three side dishes – a ragout of lentils and lardons, fondant
potatoes, garlic and spring onions, and warm French beans, hazelnuts and shallots
were given the same care and attention as the main courses. The large portions
were designed for sharing.

Nor was there was any deceleration in the desserts, often
the Achilles heel of bistro menus

Southside Scran Sea Buckthorn

From the set menu, a Sea buckthorn tart had crisp pate
sucree and well balanced sweet and sour filling, the berries reduced down with
sugar and carrot juice to moderate their intense bitterness.  A cold and acidic quenelle of yogurt sorbet provided
the ideal foil in temperature and texture.

Southside Scran_Pear

Finally, from the main menu, a pear poached in red wine was
suitably soft and yielding. Stem ginger gave a warming note, and crème
Chantilly was well flavoured with vanilla. This fruit and spice combination,
balanced by the richness of the cream, worked well in this simple yet well
executed dessert.

Good espresso finished a memorable lunch, one enhanced by relaxed
ambience and the exciting buzz of contented diners as the restaurant began to
fill. Now in its second year of trading, Southside  Scran has made its mark in the vibrant
Edinburgh dining scene. Well above the average bistro standards in its food,
service, design and décor, it can only go from strength to strength in a highly
competitive market. Fine Dining Guide enjoyed its visit and will follow its
progress with interest.

from Fine Dining Guide