Café Marlayne, 76 Thistle Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1EN tel: 0131 – 226 2230
RATING: Food 4.5; Service 4.5; Drinks 4; Ambience 4.5; Toilets 4.5; Website 4; TOTAL 26/30
Magnifique best describes this whiff of France in the centre of Edinburgh. It’s a haven for diners who want value bistro food and wine and a relaxing environment. The compact but imaginative, all-homemade seasonal menu – which changes regularly and uses local produce (beef, lamb, venison, fish) or imported from France (cheese, ham, duck, rabbit) – provided just what we needed. Beef and cheddar soup, for instance, had to be sampled. It was interesting, the sharpness of the beer contrasting with the full flavour of the cheese. The Thai fishcakes with mango, coriander and peanut salad and the steamed mussels mariniere also attracted plusses. The 8oz rib eye steak with Portobello mushroom and béarnaise sauce was seized upon by one of our guests. He was happy and that is a major win as he eats steak just about everywhere we go. Two others tucked into a tasty 7ox breast of juicy Gressingham duck with braised red cabbage and sautéed apples. Me? I plumped for boned rabbit, stuffed with Bourin noir wrapped in Parma ham and served with a delicious but not overpowering carrot puree and Madeira jus. The subtle flavours all matched and it was a delight. In all, a most pleasant evening, with robust chat in a well-established (open 14 years) intimate, French-inspired setting. We’ll be back as it was so much better than the more up-market and exceedingly more high-profile French establishment we visited recently.