It’s rare that I’m invited to feature somewhere as unique as the Canny Man’s. I’ll admit to having never been in before, but I’d heard the rumours about it being a proper old style pub with values to match (there’s a sign outside warding off backpackers and the like, although I think that’s all in fun – I think!).
A loud bell sounds as you enter, and your eyes immediately fall on the walls and ceilings which are adorned with treasures. I felt the not unwelcoming upward glance of the other guests, presumably all regular and local. It feels like that kind of place where the regulars take ownership – not a bad thing.
I felt like I was stepping back in time, Canny Man’s is one of the cities oldest public houses. Established in 1871 by James Kerr, it’s become a Morningside institution. The original bars still stand in the same place holding all sorts of trinkets and evidence of people who once drank there. I love this kind of history, and the small dining area continued the old world charm with proper tablecloths and tables adorned with flowers.
We were seated in what appeared to be the main dining area (though I think it had other rooms and alcoves). I noticed some sandwiches that guests were helping themselves to, this is apparently a regular afternoon thing. We were given the weekday Prix Fixe Menu, at the weekend they do roast dinners and a full a la carte menu. They have always offered open sandwiches and seafood starters, but hot food in this style is relatively new for the Canny Man’s.
We both chose the Chicken Live Pate to start. It was a little dated in its presentation, or you may consider it retro, I guess it’s a case of personal taste. I would prefer it potted in a little ramekin or glass jar, but that’s one for us to discuss.
The mains were definitely the highlight. I had the Picanha Steak – this is the cut that is championed by Fazenda (their ‘signature cut’). It’s basically cap of rump – a thick cut steak popular in the US and Brazil with a thick layer of flavoursome fat. It was cooked to perfection and served simply with potatoes and onions and a very good brandy sauce. This was classic cookery that felt modern because of the cut chosen. I wouldn’t hesitate to visit again for this dish.
The Sea Bream was also well cooked in a classic way, served with a creamy leek sauce. It was one of those dishes that manage to be both comforting and a bit refined at the same time.
Things fell down a little at dessert, we had a Chocolate Fudge Cake to share. It was a bought in one that lacked flavour. I’d have much preferred something homemade, and given the high standard of the mains I think the meal deserved that. Alternatively, I’m always happy if it’s something local and artisan bought in – with so many bakeries around the Canny Man’s this would certainly be an option (Cuckoo’s Bakery chocolate brownie and Luca’s ice cream?).
I love that the Canny Man’s is a local pub which is staying true to it’s roots, whilst also changing to adapt to the modern diner/pub goer. I’m sure as they develop their hot food offering that starter and dessert can be improved to meet the high standard of the mains.
Location: 237 Morningside Road, Edinburgh, EH10 4QU
Good for: Steak, local dining