Restaurant Review: L’Escargot Bleu, Edinburgh

The Early Bird Catches The Snail

In 1295, the ‘Auld Alliance’ brought Scotland and France together through shared interests in controlling England’s aggression. Written by John Balliol and Philip IV, it primarily formed a military and diplomatic alliance, but more importantly for Scots, brought a steady supply of vin francais. I wondered: had the seven hundred years of French culinary influence behind L’Escargot Bleu Edinburgh elevated Scottish cuisine, from deep fried everything and Irn-Bru to haute cuisine?

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.

L’Escargot Bleu Edinburgh started with Sea Bass Ceviche, arriving oddly hidden under glossy leaves. The dish was vibrant, refreshing – full of citrusy tang. The fish was skillfully 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, which was tasty, but not entirely convincing.

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 Review Summary

Atmosphere 9/10    Cost 10/10    Quality 8/10    Service 9/10

L'Escargot Bleu Review Edinburgh French Restaurant

L’escargot bleu is listed as ‘Best Newcomer of the Year’ in The List Eating & Drinking Guide, features in the Michelin guide each year.

L'Escargot Bleu Review Edinburgh French Restaurant

L’escargot bleu is listed in the ‘Five Best Restaurants in Scotland’ by Pete Irvine.

L'Escargot Bleu Review Edinburgh French Restaurant

L’escargot bleu & l’escargot blanc’s chef patron Fred Berkmiller was a finalist for the ‘Chef of the Year’ title at the CIS Excellence Awards 2016 and has been named a ‘Food Pioneer’ at the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards 2016

L'Escargot Bleu Review Edinburgh French Restaurant

L’escargot bleu aims to: “unite the finest French and Scottish produce to provide a dining experience you will not forget”.

L'Escargot Bleu Review Edinburgh French Restaurant

£14.90 Two Course Early Dinner

L'Escargot Bleu Review Edinburgh French Restaurant

“Provenance is key; there is only one rule in [their] kitchen – quality.”

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Restaurant Review: Bistro Franc, Liverpool

Bargain Basement Bistro

Bistro Franc Liverpool was thankfully not authentically French: staff welcomed guests with smiles, rather than complete disdain. The interior was stylishly designed, with absinthe green splashes and natural finishes throughout. Bisto Franc Liverpool tried too hard to mask it’s a chain, with so many modern accessories masquerading as antique; however, they created a fun, unique impression – especially the novel lavatories.

Bistro Franc Liverpool provided outstanding value via Le Pre Théâtre Menu; although the selection was predictably limited, options were perfectly choosable. They also provide generously long Le Lunch Rapide hours, as well as weekly Sunday and Monday (for students) Wine & Dine Menus, giving you no excuses to not make a booking.

The flavours of the pea and pancetta soup worked together admirably: the pleasing saltiness of the meat with the starchiness of the vegetables was comforting. Likewise, the smoked pâté, was creamy but light and slightly citrusy, in other words – delicious. The Chilean Sauvignon Blanc was a major disappointment, being too acidic and tasting of nothing but passion fruit; perfectly drinkable, but with little character. The ‘Poulet Forestier’ was succulent, the thick sauce too sour, and the generously-portioned, perfectly cooked vegetables fresh. Some sort of citrus tart for dessert was tasty, but a little dry, and finally the cheese was inoffensive but not proudly French.

Bistro Franc Liverpool’s service was excellent throughout, with well-presented, spritely servers producing everything efficiently. However, two minor points of improvement would be to proactively advise the Soup of the Day and explain what constituted the cheeseboard.

Although there were some issues with Bistro Franc Liverpool’s food, at this price point one shouldn’t complain. There was also some proper grown up dishes on offer, along with plenty of Scouse banter.

Bistro Franc Review Summary

Atmosphere 8/10    Cost 10/10    Quality 5/10    Service 9/10

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