Since The Gardener’s Cottage opened its doors in 2012, chef and co- owner duo Ed Murray and Dale Mailley have earned themselves some serious culinary kudos.
Their ethos is simple: create a great sense of place, with seasonal food, that connects the diner, the producer and the landscape. Housed in a disused William Playfair-designed cottage dating back to 1836, this former (you guessed it) gardener’s cottage, has been transformed to create something unique to Edinburgh’s food scene – all while maintaining the grassroots spirit that started it. A seasonal six-course dinner menu that changes daily is scrawled lovingly on a blackboard, and propped up outside – before being posted on Facebook and Twitter (@gardenersctg) for its fast-growing army of foodie fans.
Lunch is à la carte, and brunch is served at the weekends. Diners can eye up the home-grown veggie and herb patches outside in the cottage’s gardens as they wander in – an addition that barely hints at how seriously Murray and Mailley take their produce. Local farmers, producers and foragers are all to the fore, with meat sourced from some of the country’s most prestigious farms, and the fish sustainable and straight from Scotland’s waters.
Although strange-sounding, the duck and rhubarb soup is a successful combination, making a great lead into the mains – which boasts more nifty taste combinations, whether it’s mackerel, deer or mutton on offer that day. Everything is of the season here, and the likes of crab quiche and Arbroath smokies, for lunch and brunch respectively, ensure day trippers aren’t left disappointed.
Staff are as friendly as the loyal clientele, and just as the menu is simple but inventive, so is the interior. Two cosy, yet stylish, rooms play host to long communal tables, creating a sociable bustle – as well as a great chance to earwig into your fellow diners’ chat – with the bigger of the two dining spaces housing the open-plan kitchen. The interior is quaint, the atmosphere genial and, most importantly, the food is delicious.