I had a blind date - with a reader. Oh good mummy, said the 16 year old person of gorgeousness who is my daughter - maybe hell be a loony and youll have lots to write about - you see youve got to teach your kids the important things in life. Theres no such thing as a bad experience only great copy.
As it turned my blind date who Ill call Tim, just for the hell of it, wasnt a loony, a train spotter, a stalker or anything as exotic. He was a talker though, so my input on the evening was confined to nodding sagely at things neither of us knew anything about, feeling sure that my person did not live up to my press.
We went to to Rogues - a new restaurant owned and run by David Ramsden whose previous venture - now under new management but with the same chef - was (Fitz)Henry the critically acclaimed restaurant in Leith. (Fitz)Henry is popular with restaurant writers and that merry band of sophisticated customers who rhapsodise over calves cheeks, but Im told the general Edinburgh public are sometimes put off by the emphasis on offal. Strange, given their national predilection for haggis and black pudding. Tim insists that Scotland does quite well on the ethnic food front which, he claims, is because of our race memory for boiled mince. Correspondingly anything from Mexican to Indian which involves ground beef or lumpen stew is considered acceptable - so why get all fussy about organs?
In Rogues, David, front of house as well as owner/manager, decided to aim for a younger, broader clientelle which, given its location - smack bang in the middle of the citys burgeoning financial district - tries to offer all things to all business men. The menu reflects this divided into more sections than a filofax offering pasta, salads, grills, savouries and sandwiches. You could probably get fitted for a suit if you asked. The chuntering classes are also well served with a number of more substantial Hibernian fusion lunch and supper dishes ranging from roast fillet of Buccleugh Beef with rosti, wild boar sausages with mashed tatties, tagliatelle with proscuitto and figs to pan fried ox tongue with Arran mustard salad.
The interior is airy and metropolitan modern, complete with some cleverdick stuff like no signposts on the toilet door. If you look carefully theres a little gingerbread man and woman on the floor outside two black padded walls which open to the Aladdin's cave of bathrooms - if Aladdin had gone minimalist, where you play a frantic (depending on how desperate you are) game of blinds man buff/feel my handle trying to find a lavatory bowl.
I wasnt keen on the double frill of net curtains in the restaurant (presumably nets are also part of the Scottish race memory) but those swathed around the walls do a good job of disguising the dearth of windows.
Food was fair. My lunch earlier that day had been a funeral tea of brown frayed stew, a rectangle of puff pastry and tinned peas followed by a a stainless steel tray of Dairylea triangles and cheddar - two colours red, I was not in the mood to be overly fussy.
I had the squid. Id have the tiger prawn kebab with piccalilli if I was you. quoth David, whip-thin, Gucci belted (I think its a Hip Edinburgh uniform - Tim was wearing one too). Well you wouldnt. Yes I would. No you wouldnt because Im allergic and only eat them when I have three spare days to go to bed and groan. The squid came with a sweet Chile sauce and cross cultural vegetable a la greque - here a lazy pairing of carrots and onions (hailing from the country, not the spice, might explain why the dish had no zing to it) was agreeable if bland. Similarly my pea torte with asparagus and parmesan shavings from the vegetarian section was equally underwhelming but a valiant try at something other than the usual pasta with tomato sauce and courgettes option.
Tims crab salad was rich, heartily stuffed with succulent chunks of crab and correspondingly delicious, followed by steamed halibut served with a fresh, summery salad of baby artichokes and tomatoes - one of those wonderful dishes that make you feel virtuous, healthy and satisfied. A side order of potato wedges with mayonnaise and a bowl of seasonal vegetables were also brought to the table. Unbidden, I might add.
Puddings are all on the light side - strawberry salad with vanilla ice cream, vanilla pannacotta with rhubarb or, my choice, summer fruit in jelly - well we were in Scotland. It wobbled satisfyingly on the plate - about the only thing that moved in the otherwise tremble of svelteness. Tim had iced cappuccino with langue du chat biscuits - which looked to me like a cafe au lait cup full of rather leaden vanilla ice cream (complete with chocolate sprinkles) but after digging a bit reveals a thick, rich coffee sauce.
Then the cab came - thoughtfully preordered by Tim. On reflection, he was probably equally worried about the possibility of me being a loony. I just hope he got the ear in the post.