The gin bubble isn’t showing any signs of popping any time soon, so the arrival of a Gin71 in my local merchant city was a pleasant addition to the areas burgeoning restaurant and bar scene. Tucked neatly away down Virginia Court, this intimate restaurant reads as a love letter to all things gin – from their extensive cocktail list to their carefully crafted food menu.
The entire menu is designed to compliment gin in every possible way, from the herbs, to the fruits to the botanicals – making for a cohesive and palatable interesting journey. While we started things off with some cocktails (a rose garden and rhubarb and ginger ginlini to start since you asked) before getting stuck in to the menu.
We started with Edinburgh Cannonball Cured Salmon with a salted lemon curd and puffed wild rice (£6.50) and Venison Carpaccio with red current, watercress, Parmesan and Porters gin and tonic gel (£8.50.) They couldn’t have been more different, but were equally delicious. The cured salmon was tender and well seasoned, practically melting on the tongue, while the venison was rich and flavoursome, and the combination of this with the tonic gel was a pleasant surprise.
For our mains I went for the Confit Duck Leg with charred tenderstem broccoli, spiced ophlr lentils and blueberry jus, while my friend opted for the D-cut Orkney rump with juniper, thyme and potato terrine, sauteed spinach and star anise carrot. All this was complimented with a side of Gin71 truffle fries (though they were also available in rosemary salt and smoked paprika.) I very nearly went for the Botanical Mac out of sheer curiosity. The idea of custom building your mac with juniper, rosemary, fennel and coriander sounded like my idea of heaven, but ultimately the duck won out. Rich, sticky and with a depth of flavour, this was truly the highlight of the meal. The meat practically fell off the bone. The Orkney rump was tasty – though more akin to a roast beef than what we expected (a more traditional steak, but this flaw could be more down to our reading of the menu.) The truffle fries lacked the promised richness of truffle oil, which was a bit of a let down. I’m of the mind-set that truffle oil pretty much improves anything.
Closing off I went for a cheeseboard with a bathtub sloe gin chutney (£9) while my friend opted for the Lemon Posset with tonic jelly, gin meringue and candied lemon zest (£6.50.) I will nearly always go for a cheese option because a) I’m predictable as hell and b) my magpie approach to dining suits being able to try lots of little things. The bathtub sloe gin chutney though was straight up incredible though and I would quite happily eat it with everything. The right balance of sweetness and tartness to offset a welcome mix of mild softer and more pungent harder cheeses. The lemon posset was utterly heavenly, light and tart, and a welcome change to many desserts that can suffer from being too sickly sweet. The gin flair here was subtle but not unnoticed and worked well.
The cocktails here are incredible, with a mix of your classic negoroni’s to their own designs, including an ode to irn bru. I tend to go for florals (it is any surprise that a good aviation is one of my all time favourite cocktails) and I’m pretty well catered here for. If cocktails aren’t your thing though, their wide range of gins are sure to tickle your fancy. With many more cocktails to try and a rather appetising tasting menu, it won’t be long till I’m back at Gin71.