Swish Swiss Jérôme Henry's Le Roi Fou is a welcome addition to Edinburgh's dining scene
- Jo Laidlaw
- 14 June 2017
A seasoned chef with Franco-Swiss influences brings a touch of class and ambition to Edinburgh, as Jo Laidlaw discovers
Jérôme Henry has form – over 20 years at the sharp end of fine dining with stints at Anton Mossimann's Private Dining Club and Les Trois Garçons under his belt. There are certainly hints of this on the menu of his new Forth Street restaurant: foie gras, scallops, Chateaubriand, a no-choice tasting menu (6 courses for £48) – all present and correct. But a closer look reveals a lighter touch. Instead, start with a salad of herbs, leaves, asparagus, poached baby carrots and shaved fennel, all in a slip of bright olive oil and boosted by soft scoops of baked aubergine (a pleasant change from the on-the-verge-of-ubiquitous crowdie). It's a beautiful plate, but not in a cheffy way; simply a tumble of colour and vitality.
There's simplicity again in a grilled slab of North Sea cod, although this time the puddle of rich, buttery saffron sauce banishes any thoughts of abstention. Beef fillet feels casually Parisian and the chips are excellent (as they should be at a £4 supplement). It's all very confident and competent, although the wheels do come off a tiny bit at dessert. Pistachio crumble comes out as crouton-sized chunks of crispness which appear to have been rescued from the grill just in the nick of time, while the sharp rhubarb could be a little sweeter and more yielding.
While Henry and partner Isolde Nash cite influences like Dada and the absurd, there's little evidence of that in the restaurant as it stands (early days yet though). It's a plain space with picture windows allowing the setting sun to stream into the front area, with olive green walls creating a darker space at the back of the room. And while the pre-theatre menu (2 courses for £17.50) is stonkingly good value, Henry and Nash's dreams of creating a 'restaurant des artistes' may stand or fall on the latest round of Creative Scotland cuts, as three courses at any other time represents a reasonably hefty investment. That said, there's a warm welcome extended to those who just want to perch at the bar for a glass of wine and a nibble, and with Henry's Swiss heritage strongly in evidence in an excellent trolley of Swiss cheeses accompanied by a couple of equally surprising Swiss wines, that won't feel like a hardship.
+ The happiest of salads
- Desserts not quite reaching the same standards as everything else