Edinburgh restaurant Café Marlayne relocates second branch to top of Leith Walk

One of Edinburgh’s much-loved French restaurants has relocated its second branch to a radically different part of town.

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Edinburgh restaurant Café Marlayne relocates second branch to top of Leith Walk

One of Edinburgh’s much-loved French restaurants has relocated its second branch to a radically different part of town. Gemma Harris paid a visit

If you’re familiar with Café Marlayne’s cosy Thistle Street restaurant, the barn-like proportions of their latest venture on Antigua Street may come as a surprise. High, white-washed walls, supersized glitterball and bold Ikea lampshades mean the new branch feels at odds with their unashamedly old-fashioned bistro food and copious quantities of candles and gilt-framed oils. Overall, the 80-seat interior is more Stockholm warehouse than Parisian hole-in-the-wall.

Nevertheless, the departure is deliberate. Having closed their second venue in Old Fishmarket Close off the Royal Mile, owners Islay Fraser and Marcelline Levicky hope to hook more passing trade here with a fluid all-day format. They’re opening for full Scottish breakfast and salmon and eggs from 9am to midday, and selling sandwiches, cakes and coffees from a small café at the front. There’s even free wi-fi to tempt iPad malingerers.

As for lunch and dinner, c’est le comfort food. The menu is pretty much a carbon copy of Thistle Street’s and remains good value. Unsurprisingly, given the location opposite the Playhouse and Omni centre, they’re also offering pre-theatre dinner deals (5pm to 7pm).

Mains such as rib-eye steak with blue-cheese butter, roast duck breast in rich port gravy, and rack of lamb, are cooked pink and tender. Portions are generous and all come with a side of greens and creamy, garlic-scented potato dauphinoise.

Seafood can be hit and miss: a starter of seared king scallops proves underdone and watery and mussels in garlic and Pernod too small to fare well under a hot grill. Desserts won’t win prizes for subtlety but they’re good, sweet and filling: the baked vanilla and honey cheesecake, in particular, has just the right wobble. If the sight of those hefty puddings defeats you, there’s always the cheese board from IJ Mellis.

A trad French bistro that wants to be a hip, loft-style café … if it’s trying to be all things to all people it’s understandable in its early days. Just a few tweaks to lighting and layout and it may well happen.

Pros
Good meat, especially Scottish beef and lamb dishes

Cons
Spacious interior suits daytime buzz but not evening intimacy

Café Marlayne
13 Antigua Street, Leith Walk, Edinburgh, 0131 558 8244
Food served Mon–Thu 10am–10pm; Fri 10am–11pm; Sat 9am–11pm;
Sun 9am–10pm. Ave. price two course meal £10.50 (set lunch) / £17 (dinner)
www.cafemarlayne.com

Café Marlayne

13 Antigua Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3NH

This French restaurant across from the Playhouse has a bold menu offering much more than quick, cheap pre-theatre bites.

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