The Letterbox Bistro, Main Street, Balerno, Midlothian
RATING: Food 4.5; Atmosphere 4; Service: 3; Drinks: BYOB; Toilets: 3
I’M not going to indulge in clichés about this bistro, despite it being in a Post Office, yes, by day you can buy stamps and have a coffee while at night it becomes a restaurant, and a quality one at that.
The BYOB element is a positive. You buy what you want and the extensive, locally-sourced, seasonal menu with a Continental influence provides ample choice.
My roast breast of quail and quail lollipop was innovative and colourful. It was served on a slate, artistic certainly, but many in our company would have preferred a plate.
The dish came with smoked bacon, superb, an absolutely sensational pea puree and fennel and coriander salad. All the flavours stood out, none dominated, and the meat was perfectly cooked.
The four main courses includes a fish of the day. It was salmon, a fish I eat a lot and therefore normally avoid in a restaurant but I wanted to see if the chef could be creative with it and he was. It proved a sound choice.
All the other flavours complemented the salmon. It also went well with the sides (an extra, incidentally), potatoes roasted in thyme and butter, and roasted beetroot with fresh rosemary.
Others in the party loved their fillet of new season lamb and duck, all cooked with an interesting twist.
The sweet selecton, yes some of us made it that far, included a luxurious lemon cheesecake. My lactose intolerance was dealt with by the chef who provide a fruit salad with a likeable touch of mint.
A good meal but I have one criticism. The portions – for men, particularly – were small but overall we felt this family-run restaurant was well worthy of consideration by discerning diners. Check for opening times.
One final point, for a pre-meal refreshment, don’t forget that The Grey Horse (good selection of real ales) is only seconds away, also in the Main Street.