Palmerston's Restaurant, Morningside, Edinburgh

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Palmerston’s is a sophisticated eatery to match the salubrious surroundings of Edinburgh’s exemplary Southside suburb

In a competition of quasi-urban villages, Morningside might well win hands down. The proliferation of estate agents notwithstanding, the shops are mostly charming. It is almost a gentrified fantasyland, aside from (or perhaps due to) the lack of pubs. Heck, the place is so well turned out that even the vagrants are relatively attractive.

Into this milieu, a place such as Palmerston’s fits nicely. French doors all round, bare wood floors and polished timber tables adorned with olive cotton runners and wee vases of veronica spicata, high backed rattan chairs. Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong play in the background. Cream walls and a bit of exposed masonry signal taste. Art hangs on the walls, but it’s as subtle as dappled sunshine.

Once known as Orbis, the owner of Palmerston wine shop in Dunkeld took over this corner site a bit more than midway through 2006: hence the array of global vintages, notably all available by the glass as well as the bottle.

The food menus are modern Scottish and Continental brasserie style, with a wide à la carte selection in the evenings - from the signature pan-fried salmon fish cakes to confit duck leg or aged Scotch beef fillet with horseradish crust - and a more modest choice during the day, which includes a set-price two-course option for under £10.

That might include a feta cheese, beetroot and watermelon salad, which is a successful though not seasonally sensitive combination. Heaven knows where watermelon has to be flown in from at this time of year. The pink chunks are juicy but hardly sweet. Come August or September, with the fruit sourced closer to home, this dish would shine more strongly.

Pigeon breast on a perfectly circular base of celeriac puree is a classy main lunch course. The game is pungent with hints of pink if a tad dry and tough. Sandwiched between the meat and the rather bland fine mash (why not some nutmeg?) are wilted fresh baby spinach, all adorned with near julienne slices of ‘horse mushrooms’.

For afters, the menu’s ‘rich chocolate cake’ is precisely described. A filling slice situated somewhere between moist brownie and dark cocoa mousse, complemented with a shot glass of homemade vanilla ice cream with plenty of real vanilla pod in evidence. On small details, the evening bread is made in house but at least during the day the slices served are locally baked organic sourdough.

Service is sincere, friendly and professional: lingering over another glass of wine after one’s cappuccino would be the afternoon idler’s preferred option as the mostly beautiful folk wander by outside. Morningside has been called a byword for Edinburgh gentility and Palmerston’s largely has the manners, decorum and refinement to match.

Palmerston’s

45 Morningside Road, Edinburgh
0131 466 7665, Food served noon - 2.30pm
and 6 - 9.30pm Tuesday to Saturday
Set price two-course lunch £9.95; average
price two-course evening meals around £22
All wines sold by the glass

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