A friendly French affair
The fun of French food is not only the lovely, fatty juices that duck is cooked in or the pleasant and pungent smell of the cheese but it's also the charisma of the cafes' staff. Quick witted, friendly and passionately knowledgeable are ways in which I would describe people I came across in both my experiences in France and my experience at Daniel's Bistro.
Daniel is a charmer, he has a lot to smile about though. The food at his cafe is just as innovative as it is reasonably priced, and is a beautiful marriage of Scottish and French characters. The menu is lengthy and hard to put down, the choices difficult to narrow down. The restaurant has a very fresh feel , with one side entirely windowed, allowing us diners to enjoy the scene outside on Commercial Quay.
We start with La Croix Bordeaux and a house specialty which originates from the same region as Daniel, Alsace. The La Tarte Flambee (£7.85) is a crisp, flat milk bread overlaid with crème fraîche and fromage fraîche that is a cool complement to smoky bacon lardons. It all stands up deliciously well to the complexity of the wine, which is decanted and poured for us throughout the meal.
My friend's main is also an Alsacian signature dish: Le Jarret de Porc a l' Ancienne (£14.75). The menu appropriately describes this as 'substantial' as the plate is heaping with helpings of Gruyere cheese-infused risotto, gratin potatoes and ratatouille, the bacon-wrapped, salt-cured pork itself colossal in both size and flavour as it reportedly falls of the bone almost voluntarily. Meanwhile, I am engrossed in the Magret de Canard (£15.45): sautéed Barbary duck breast dressed up with fresh rosemary stems, a fruits of the forest sauce and the same sides as the pork- the Gruyere risotto being the first thing to totally disappear from the plate! The duck is tender and is made for the dark cherry-dominant sauce. Definitely a winner.
Powerless against the desserts we finish with giant shavings of dark chocolate, 70% pure cacao, (Amer Maison - £5.95) with an orange coulis plus a blissful bread and butter pudding with crème anglaise (£4.65). Naughty, but very nice.
Daniel's is open all day, daily, with a Sunday brunch as well as pre-theatre specials.
Daniel's Bistro 88 Commercial Street Edinburgh, EH6 6LX
0131 553 5933
Also in March 2009 issue of Bite Magazine