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Snap, Crackle & Pop: Le Cafe Saint Honore
I am inhaling the lively aroma emanating from a six year old sourdough starter, cleary beloved by it’s owner Neil Forbes. Sat in Cafe St Honore on Edinburgh’s Thistle Street Lane with ten other delighted food lovers, we have just eaten one of the best restaurant meals I can remember for quite some time. This, this is how it should be.
Neil has used that phrase several times this evening, food ‘as it should be’ and we are in wholehearted agreement. As an ambassador for the Slow Food Movement this represents the approach Neil and the team at Cafe St Honore take to the menu here, using the best local ingredients they can get their hands on and letting them sing. The dishes on tonight’s special menu are prepared and presented with care but no fussiness, no pretense, and the evening feels more like a family meal as we pass around sharing platters and chatter the night away.
The evening begins with sourdough made from the aforementioned starter and a dram of the 12 year old expression of Highland Park. This evening we are lucky enough to be joined by Scott from Highland Park‘s distributors for a guided whisky tasting to accompany the meal, and this first sample sets us up nicely for the feast ahead.
We start with Neil’s home cured salmon and pickles, matched wonderfully with smooth crowdie cheese and the subtle citrus of scrab grass, alongside a chicken liver parfait with hot buttered toast and crab apple jelly; paired with the 18 year old Highland Park, which proves to be the favourite expression of the evening among many of the group.
Two main courses follow, a rich Monkfish in red wine with mushrooms and chunks of Cafe St Honore’s own smoked bacon, the last pieces of which we fight amongst ourselves for they’re so moreish. Then comes the star of the evening, a six hour slow roasted lamb shoulder on the bone from Hugh Grierson with curly kale, roasted rainbow carrots, lamb jus and a simple pearl barley dish rich with cheese and leeks. The meat is stunningly tender, falling from the bone as Alaster bravely takles the carving in full view of the geeks and we shamelessly dive upon it as if we hadn’t eaten in days, despite the fantastic food that has already come our way, licking fingers and picking at the meat left on the bone despite how full we now are.
Before dessert, another Highland Park, this time the dark and fruity 21 year old which we compare with the 18 year old thanks to a generous few extra drams being poured around the table. The 21 sits nicely with Neil’s chosen dessert, a good old fashioned Apple crumble with vanilla ice cream and proper custard, served in one big dish just like mum used to make. We’re giggling like children at this point; delighted with not just the food, but the company and the atmosphere that Cafe St Honore have created for us this evening.
This family meal style event isn’t something that Cafe St Honore usually offer but it worked fantastically well and showed off the produce and cooking at Cafe St Honore perfectly; we’re hoping it’s somehting Neil and his team may be able to offer others in future. In the meantime, Cafe St Honore’s friendly service and commitment to cooking local produce simply and brilliantly should be more than reason enough for a visit to see what got us so excited – go on, you know you want to.
Cafe St Honore
34 North West Thistle Street Lane
Edinburgh EH2 1EA
+44 (0) 131 226 2211
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