L’Escargot Bleu, a quaint French bistro exuding an understating Parisian chic. But what’s it doing in freezing, pissing down Edinburgh? French restaurants and Scotland have history behind them. In 1295, the ‘Auld Alliance’ brought Scotland and France together through shared interests in controlling England’s aggression. Although primarily forming a military and diplomatic alliance, more importantly for Scots, brought a steady supply of vin francais. I wondered if the seven hundred years of French culinary influence behind L’Escargot Bleu Edinburgh had elevated Scottish eating habits, from deep fried everything with Irn-Bru to haute cuisine and fine wines?
Nestled amongst the stone elegance of Edinburgh’s new town, away from the Playhouse traffic, into the neatly set, dimly lit, late Georgian streets sat L’Escargot Bleu. Behind the proud French navy façade, the interior was tastefully all matt grey, dark wood and flickering candles.
This French romantic vibe just got me in the mood…for something Peruvian. Starting with the Sea Bass Ceviche, arriving oddly hidden under glossy leaves. The dish was vibrant, refreshing – full of citrusy tang. The fish was skilfully sliced, the onions deftly shaved and all and sundry kept their textures determinedly. It was excellent, yet I wanted more. L’Escargot Bleu Edinburgh didn’t match the eponymous ‘Don Ceviche’, by London’s Ceviche restaurants which I’d previously enjoyed; however, they’re Peruvian and double the price. Some well-seasoned, fresh mussels in breadcrumbs were served al la Crunchy Nut Cornflakes. Tasty enough but I wasn’t convinced combining mussels with a crunchy coating was a good idea.
Regarding mains, the cod was a hauling beast of pristine white muscle, yet carelessly fell away from my fork’s gentle glance. The aquatic Olympian was gifted texture by a coat of crumbly, salty deliciousness; and, dutifully guarded by purposeful mussels, all lovingly coated in a boldly seasoned, ethereal light sauce. The deep Burgundy coloured Venison Skewers were of a supreme quality: if you’re into murdering majestic mammals this should be why. The deer was fiercely seasoned, sublimely tender, and rested on perfectly formed couscous. The Vegetable Gratin was more impressive than any side had any right to be: it was a miracle of engineering, being so rich in dairy goodness yet enigmatically light. Solid seasoning, punchy garlic and a weighty dose of (I suspect) nutmeg added a magical je ne sais quoi.
L’Escargot Bleu Edinburgh’s cheeseboard wasn’t as compelling as it appeared: fine but unoriginal fromages, tediously uniform biscuits, avec oily, completely unnecessary salad leaves. However, the goat’s cheese was something special – thick, creamy, pungent mouth-filling titillation of the highest order.
With charming staff, quaffable wine, frighteningly good early-bird value and cosy, continental ambience, L’Escargot Bleu is an Edinburgh gem.
L’Escargot Bleu Edinburgh
Atmosphere 9 Cost 10 Quality 8 Service 9