Edinburgh restaurants Earthy Canonmills and The Gardener's Cottage excel in ethically sourced food

Edinburgh restaurants Earthy Canonmills and The Gardener's Cottage excel in ethically sourced food

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.

The Gardener's Cottage

1 Royal Terrace Gardens, Edinburgh, EH7 5DX

Unassuming, informal restaurant cooking exciting seasonal dishes using the finest produce.

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