REVIEW Mono – Progressive Italian Dining

Mono, the new progressive Italian restaurant that’s opened on South Bridge is one place you don’t want to be dining alone – you need someone to share your Oo’s and Ahh’s with!

This building has been closed for a while, but now Mono has brought a touch of elegance to an otherwise busy, noisy, city centre area.

Head chef Maciek Zieliński, formerly of The Atelier and Joseph Crolla of Crolla’s Italian Kitchen in Musselburgh, have teamed up to create a space that radiates simplicity and nature beautifully.

The restaurant is two stories, with an open plan kitchen downstairs, a lovely fire and cosy seating. Upstairs you have windows on both sides, with relaxed, comfortable seating at the front of the restaurant.

Seated at one of the tables, we choose the 8 course tasting menu.

Four delicate plates of amuse-bouche got us prepared for the journey ahead.

First dish – Textures of Carrot (carrot puree, carrot sponge, baby carrot with mustard seeds). The darkened carrot had the full intensity of carrot taste with the mustard seeds popping alongside the puree. The sponge added a light slight texture. Delightful.

Second dish – Caprese Explosion. Amazing! Scoop it off the little serving stand straight into your mouth. It bursts with flavour.

Third dish – Baked Ricotta Mousse with aubergine and peppers with aubergine crisp. You could taste the individual components here. The aubergine crisp adding the crunch to the soft pillow of ricotta mousse.

Fourth and the best amuse-bouche dish for me, the Fermented Beetroot with Crowdie Cheese and Hazelnut. The hazelnut was slightly sweet and balanced out the tang of the beetroot. Loved it!

Their wine menu is extensive and once I seen my favourite wine on the menu, I looked no further. I ordered the Gewurztraminer but at £17 a glass, I wasn’t having too many of these.

Bread and Stuzzichini (bread sticks). Fresh baked bread including foccacia, sourdough and a gnocco fritto (fried dough puff). I loved this because you don’t have to share the bread on this occasion – this bread platter is all yours and you will eat all of it.

First course – Cuttlefish Radout with polenta, peas and sea purslane. A very fishy dish and you will certainly taste the cuttlefish. Each bite was different. The peas brought sweetness and the purslane the saltiness. A well balanced dish.

Second Course – Roasted Partridge with lardo, brambles, girolles, corn and Vermouth. A mouth watering plate of food that screamed Autumn. The partridge was most appetising and moist, soft and quite delicate. The brambles and the girolles added texture and a lovely earthiness to the dish.

This dish also came with a side dish of a partridge lollipop. Shredded, crumbed and deep fried partridge that was saporous, full of umami goodness.

Third Course – Duck Prosciutto with pecorino bottoni, egg yolk and plums. Wafer thin ribbons on salty prosciutto balanced by the sweet tartness of the plums.

The jus was saporific managing to marry all the bold flavours together in this dish.

Fourth Course – Crispy Cod with mussles, gnocchi romana, pil pil and pak choy.

Stunning dish. The cod had been marinated and then pan fried leaving it firm but flaky bursting with the flavours of the pil pil (made from the milky protein left behind when you cook the cod and whisked with garlic oil), paired with pak choy, this dish was easy to eat and rather divine.

Fifth Course – Borders Lamb Saddle with sweetbreads, baby potatoes, artichoke, capers and lovage.

Another delectable dish. The lamb was cooked perfectly; tender and pink in the middle. I gave my sweetbreads to Mr TS as I’m not a fan. Great to see local Scottish produce being used!

Sixth Course – Aged Parmesan with buckwheat, apple. tarragon and celery.

The perfect plate of cheese! Deconstructed cheese platter. Every component, eveny inch of this dish was delicious – but only if you are a cheese lover!

Seventh Course – Olive Oil Cake with figs, lemon, honey and sour cream.

To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes for this dish but I was proven wrong. It’s lovely. The olive oil cake was light and moist with a hint of olive oil taste but it’s really just a vehicle to carry the other flavours. The figs were a tart sweetness, the honeycomb was perfection and the ice cream delicious. The only thing I didn’t like was the olive oil foam – it was bitter and really didn’t contribute to this dish.

Eighth Course – Plum Tart with ricotta, chocolate, pine nuts and Laphroaig.

A very impressive looking dish, but unfortunately, the only course I didn’t like. They spray Laphroaig whisky onto the dish at your table. I hate Laphroaig – it smells and tastes like TCP. So sorry to say, this dish didn’t stand a chance. Laphroaig lovers my say otherwise.

We finished off with coffees and petite fours.

According the Dictionary, Progressive means favoring or advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are.

Mono is most certainly taking Italian cuisine to the next level; it’s taking some of the best Italian ingredients and recipes and changing them to suit a more modern palate and putting a very creative spin on plating up.

There are nods to the traditional old school Italian dishes – gnocchi and pasta make an appearance but here they are more refined, elegant and utterly beautiful. Every dish will leave you waiting in anticipation for the next.

The 8 course tasting menu is £75pp, expensive but worth the dining experience. The staff are superb – knowledgeable, friendly and very helpful.

Mono, 85 South Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1HN. Tel : 0131 4664726

My Spoon Award : Tartan Spoon 10/10


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