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Elaborate and dishes in an artistic setting. Expect unusual ingredients and exciting combinations that run from drinks to dessert, as well as a hipster vibe
Timberyard is a very special spot on the Edinburgh restaurant scene – mostly because it nails so many of the things required for an excellent meal out.
Firstly, there’s the room itself. Timberyard is, as you might have guessed, a former timber yard. It has been converted beautifully, tastefully, serenely – as though the whole building, and the outside courtyard, were being prepared for a design shoot. Funnily enough, it has already modelled for several. Vast whitewashed brick walls and exposed wooden beams frame the main dining room. Scandinavian ceramics are dotted artfully around, while bright, but not brashy, red tartan blankets hang over the backs of seats, and natural light beams in through giant windows.
It’s got the cleaned-up, industrial look down perfectly, and even the staff look as though they’ve been carefully art directed – their beards, braces, tattoos, striped aprons and quiffs are all impeccable. If any of that makes Timberyard sound too hipster- by-numbers, don’t worry – it’s not style over substance, it just pays attention to the details. It’s a family-run business, and owner-operators the Radfords – along with their extended team of ‘small, local, artisan growers, breeders, producers, suppliers and foragers’ – have you in very safe hands. The drinks menu sets the tone, sporting craft beers such as The Kernel, Camden Hells, and Edinburgh’s Hanging Bat, organic wines, small batch Islay gin (The Botanist), damson vodka (from London’s Sipsmith) and dill flavoured Aquavit (Denmark’s Aalborg Dild). Cocktails start from £7, and premium spirits are blended with the likes of bee pollen, smoke, and birch sap to make outdoorsy delights. Cocktails and ‘bites’ are a good (read: cheaper) way to experience the place without committing to a full meal. Also recommended is the courtyard, which opens as a bar during the summer on Fridays and Saturdays.
Mini-starters include mackerel with nasturtium, yoghurt, rye and mustard seed for under a fiver, which gives a good indication of the restaurant’s style. Lunch and dinner are served à la carte every day except Monday, with an optional eight-course meal (£60, or £40 for vegetarians), and a slightly cheaper set menu for groups of up to six. Dishes tend to throw together (in a very skilful and considered way, of course) quality Scottish fish and meat with less familiar plants and herbs (some homegrown), such as woodruff and sea buckthorn, and there’s fondness for pickled, smoked and cured ingredients.
It’s always worth asking the waiter to elaborate on the minimal menu descriptions, as the combinations are often more intriguing than at first glance.