Every time I hear the word seasons, I want to break out into song … ‘We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun’ ( I don’t know the rest of the lyrics). It was a fairly sunny day when we visited Seasons on Broughton Street and I so wanted it to be fun.
Seasons has the potential to be fun with its fairly quirky entrance and layout but that’s were it ends. The Scandinavian influence which lies in their decor and menu demands a stillness, a calmness, a peace and quiet; almost retreat like.
The decor is clean almost sparse but comes with a certain cosiness – perhaps its the pine panelling that make you think of being in a sauna.
Seasons have opted for a very interesting and perhaps slightly forgiving menu which comes in the way of a scroll listing up to 30 ingredients that you will find in the dishes. You can choose from a 5 course (£40pp) or a 7 course (£55pp) tasting menu, paired with or without wines.
Ingredients included chanterelle mushrooms, wild leek, hare, black lentils, mustard frills, douglas fir, chestnuts and seabuckthorn. These ingredients are sourced from Scotland and Scandinavia and are seasonal. I’ve no doubt that some of these ingredients are hard to come by and may be coming to the end of their season or have been forced such as the rhubarb; but they were still treated with great respect and Chef Matt Urry has created dishes that bring out the best of each ingredient.
And so onto the food. First dish to the table was an amuse-bouche of Tapioca Cracker with caramelized onion and burnt leek. For me the cracker was only a vessel to carry the lovely sweet onions and provide the soft crunch.
Onto the Roasted Cauliflower Veloute with caper crumb and douglas fir. I’m not a massive fan of this fir oil that seems to be popping up on menus. Luckily there were only a few droplets of the oil and I’m glad to say it enhanced rather than over power the cauliflower flavour. It was super creamy with a thundering taste of cauliflower.
Next up was hake with gorgeous wee pickled mushrooms, channel wrack (seaweed) and a lovely foam. This was the star dish. The fish was cooked perfectly, still firm but fell apart. Well seasoned and each mouthful was faultless.
Moving on to the Venison dish. This was my least favourite plate of food of the evening. The venison had been sous-vide. You’ll have seen this a thousand times on MasterChef where food is sealed in a vacuum sealed plastic pouch then placed in a water bath resulting in very tender meat but it also removes most of the flavour. The meat was cooked to absolute perfection but it was bland. Venison is such a rich powerful meat, that for me only needs cooked for a couple of minutes.
A very vivid striking dish was next to arrive at the table. This was our pre-dessert of blood orange sorbet with citrus gel and meringue. Loved this! The blood orange crisp was brittle and tart and the ice cream was bursting with citrus notes.
Lastly, was dessert of Rhubarb & Vanilla ice cream with Italian meringue and toasted oats. A lovely wee dish filled with a variety of textures – the softness of the rhubard, the ever so slight crunchiness from the dollops of meringue and the gooey-granola type crunch from the toasted oats.
I appreciate what Seasons are trying to do and admire their commitment to seasonality and bringing an alternative dining experience to Edinburgh. I would certainly recommend it if you wanted to try out a tasting menu for the first time. The service is very blase but very much fits in with the Nordic feel.
Seasons Restaurant and Bar, Broughton Street, Edinburgh. Tel : 0131 466 9851 www.seasonstasting.co.uk
My Spoon Award : Silver