Edinburgh restaurants Earthy Canonmills and The Gardener's Cottage excel in ethically sourced food
- Jo Laidlaw
- 12 August 2012
Both Earthy Canonmills and The Gardener’s Cottage share a resolute focus on finding the best seasonal and local ingredients and then treating them as lightly as possible, along the way blazing a path for produce-led, accessible cooking. Is this the start of a golden age for Scottish cooking? The evidence is compelling.
The picture-perfect Gardener’s Cottage was always going to feel special, but it’s the daily-changing fixed menu – five courses for £25 – that’s really creating a buzz. Their approach is simple. Grow it themselves (fittingly, the Gardener’s garden is flourishing); make it themselves (bread, chutney, even their own cheese); or source it locally and smartly (buy a whole deer and use every single cut for a week’s worth of menus). This thrifty approach delivers a witty, energetic menu that’s big on flavour, value and simplicity. There’s something truly beautiful about a slice of Lanark white cheese, a slick of rhubarb chutney, a warm brioche. Equally, poaching hake in the whey left over from making the ricotta is both bonkers and brilliant, a lactic quality seeping into every flake of the soft, yielding fish.
Meanwhile, down in Canonmills, the latest member of the Earthy family is equally serious about its produce, with a predominantly organic menu, locally sourced (think Phantassie veg, Hugh Grierson meat, Creelers smoked fish). Here all those good things come together in a brasserie-style menu, running from breakfast (and who wouldn’t want to start their day with organic bacon, eggs and sausages?) to dinner, with a take-away lunch counter as well as a well-stocked shop. With raw ingredients this good, Earthy rightly keeps things simple. So a free-range, organic chicken breast is put together with punchy black pudding and a light cream sauce. A platter of salad screams ‘summer’ (while whispering ‘healthy’). It all adds up to easy, enjoyable food.
Fair enough, two golds don’t make a golden age. But with sourcing and cooking of this standard emerging, maybe it’s the start of a movement, the beginning of a change. And maybe, just maybe, four years hence, they’ll all be fighting for a place on that podium.