Wednesday, 14 September 2011
No longer the Bruntsfield post office, 1 Merchiston Place has been beautifully transformed into the upscale Ristorante Ferrari, serving what they see as traditional northern Italian cuisine. The new occupants present us with a welcoming room filled with soft jazz, white linens and spectacular wine glasses that beg to be filled with delicious Italian juice. What could go wrong? Well, a couple of things.
Service couldn’t be sweeter as we are shown to our table of choice, by a window overlooking the rain-soaked streets. Wine glasses are filled, bread sticks are broken and olives also join the table as we peruse a menu that quickly raises some curiosity.
The prices are very high, particularly when considering the ‘primi’ courses (pasta dishes, traditionally eaten first in Italy) all exceed £15 and it’s clear that regular patrons could not have this plus a main without breaking the bank. Expectations are now high as well.
Instead we go for the special bruschetta (£4.50), garlicky and good, and the ‘tarte salate’ (£5.95), a really delicious savoury cake composed of Fontina cheese, Porcini mushrooms and potatoes, served warm with cool sour cream that tastes delightfully of lemon. Four thumbs up so far.
My companion’s main is incredible; the ’osel scapa’ (meaning ‘escaped bird’) is a Pancetta-wrapped sirloin with a Fontina cheese and herb center (£15.50). Strong flavours mingle harmoniously and every bite is savoured. Mine doesn’t compare.
My fish of the day should have been a delicately-cooked monkfish with imaginative side dishes chosen specifically to bring out the flavours of each other and this particular fish. I receive an unattractive bowl of melted butter with an alien-like monkfish flipped ugly-side-up and halved cherry tomatoes swimming questionably about (£18.50). I am offered a salad or stuffed vegetables for a side, as it comes with nothing else, but instead the chef sends a standard roasted vegetable medley, the same that accompanies the sirloin and, lazily, other dishes too.
For these prices, one expects more creativity to go into each individual forkful, and for the complementary accompaniments to stay with and enhance each bite. The pool of ‘mad water’ tastes of nothing as it rolls off each piece of this usually-extraordinary fish that has tragically died in vain. It had so, so much more potential.
For pudding, the torta della nonna: pastry cream on pastry cake, and covered with almonds. My companion said it was warm and lovely, but I think she was being polite.
Ferrari also has so much potential, but must first lower prices, or instead live up to them. (K Smith)
Published in September 2011 issue of Bite Magazine, Edinburgh UK
1 Merchiston Place,
0131 622 0108
Tuesday to Sunday 5 pm till 11 pm