I was looking forward to Mono of course (especially as I had been invited), but I wasn’t blown away by the menu and to be honest I had pretty average expectations. It was quite expensive and the ‘progressive Italian’ part made me wonder if it was going to be all style over substance. Then members of our Foodinburgh Group began to visit and a series of superlative filled reviews began to appear…many from members whose opinions I really respect.
I went with an open mind, and boy did I get a lesson in not reading a menu and presuming to know what I was about to be served…
I’d specifically asked to try the Tasting Experience, and I’m so glad I did, it really gave me an overview of what Mono are doing. At £75 for 8 courses, it isn’t cheap, but it does represent good value.
First up, a molecularly gastronomic ‘Caprese Salad‘ served on a little plinth. Did it taste like a Caprese Salad? To my surprise and delight, it did.
Next was a small squid ink cracker and a crispy pork bite.
I love these amuse bouche, I could just eat a series of these. Instead we turned our attention to bread – a platter each with four types and some very flavoursome olive oil for dipping.
The Cuttlefish Ragout was a good place to start, the flavours were similar to probably the most famous and well liked of Italian dishes, bolognese. This however was certainly progressive, instead of minced beef there was cuttlefish and the garnish was a squid ink gnocchi and sea purslane. Despite being ‘progressive’ I felt the dish stayed true to its Italian origin, close your eyes and you were eating the best bolognese you’ve ever tasted with a gentle taste of the sea.
One down, seven to go. Dish number two was Rabbit Loin with a celebration of carrots – makes sense really – rabbits eat carrots, and here they are presented together on the same plate. This was an intricately presented dish that came together really well.
We enjoyed a glass of wine and watched the show for a bit. Sit downstairs and you can see all the dishes being plated at the open view pass. A real must if you’re a foodie.
The next dish of Pecorino Bottoni didn’t look like much, but it REALLY delivered on flavour. One of my favourite dishes this year, the combination of salty duck ham, rich egg yolk, soft pasta was perfect.
Next up was the Red Mullet which was served with a curried butter, progressive indeed. I took a mini detour from the tasting experience and asked to try the Winter Truffle Risotto instead. A delicious bowl of comforting risotto arrived with probably the largest portion of truffle I’ve enjoyed in my lifetime.
The Borders Lamb Saddle was served along some buttery sweetbreads and artichokes. I didn’t manage to take a picture of the Aged Parmesan dish, but to be honest, a little bit of mystery is a good thing. Let’s just say it was a modern twist on your usual cheese course!
I succumbed to the suggestion of a glass of dessert wine, and I have to say it was well worth it. The palate cleanser was a smooth strawberry sorbet which was a nice introduction to two sweet courses.
The Saffron Risotto was a vibrant yellow and served alongside berries and a bright green lemon balm sorbet. The grated chocolate over the top looked just like parmesan which was a fun way to present it.
The finale was Cherry & Chocolate, dark aerated chocolate sat alongside fresh cherries and a cherry sorbet. A fitting end to what was a true tasting experience.
Mono is, in my opinion, one of the best tasting experiences I’ve had in Edinburgh, or anywhere. It’s up there with michelin star meals I’ve enjoyed at Andrew Fairlie, Bohemia and Martin Wishart – it’s a must visit.
Location: 85 South Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1HN
Good for: Italian fine dining