With the Fringe upon us it’s all about flexible dining where you can enjoy a variety of smaller and larger plates, sharing food, great drinks, and the option of eating al fresco if the weather holds up. The Jolly Botanist ticks all the boxes – with a fantastic gin and cocktail menu, sharing boards and inside/outside tables – on paper it’s a good call for pre/post show bites, but is it any good?
We started with a couple of gins (of course). The gin menu runs to several pages so you’ll definitely find something new to try. I had the Silent Pool gin, not particularly unknown but one I hadn’t had before, and Alex went wild with the Bol Genever which had a distinctly whisky tang to it.
Our host at The Jolly Botanist insisted we try all the sharing boards, and who were we to argue!
First up was our favourite of the three (although they were all good). The Charcuterie Board featured a selection of cured meats, breads, olives, and the most delicious balsamic onions, there was also some very good buffalo mozzarella. We all enjoyed creating our own tapa bites from all the different components.
The Mezze Board was just as delicious featuring a colourful array of chargrilled vegetables, sun blush tomatoes, hummus, pickles, and more of those moreish balsamic onions.
Our final sharer was the indulgent Baked Camembert, which arrived piping hot and with crostini to dip in fondue style. The red onion chutney which was served alongside deserves special mention, the husband polished off most of it himself, much to my dismay!
We could have quite easily stopped there, but we’re not exactly known for our restraint so we plowed on with three mains!
The Fish & Chips looked and tasted epic and would definitely be one of my top choices if I returned. Served with the obligatory mushy peas and tartar sauce, it was a traditional dish that lived up to the high expectations we have of it.
I had a dish that was less traditional and moving more towards the kind I’d expect at a high end restaurant. The Duck Confit leg was still juicy but with its layer of thick skin fully rendered down so it was crisp. It was served with a warm pear and heritage salad and another helping of that red onion compote – finally I got to try some! It was a good way to serve duck in a really summery way, and was relatively light after all the big starters.
The fillet steak sandwich didn’t let the side down either, blushing pink there was a generous portion of tender steak. The unassuming highlight of this dish was without a doubt the world beating peppercorn sauce – I challenge you to find a better one anywhere!
I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Jolly Botanist, but the food was far better than anything I had expected. The ingredients were all high quality and presented in a really modern and appetising way. We will definitely return…I want to try both of the other mains I didn’t choose this time!
The Jolly Botanist
Location: 256-260 Morrison St, Edinburgh EH3 8DT
Price: Sharing Boards £15-£18, Mains £10-£17
Good for: Extensive gin menu, informal food and sharing boards