An offshoot of Michelin-starred Timberyard, new restaurant Montrose in Edinburgh’s Abbeyhill district is a chip off the old block, discovers Richard Bath.

There will always be Michelin-starred restaurateurs seeking to capitalise on their fame by using it as a springboard to expand their empire. Tom Kitchin has done so with the eclectic quartet of Scran & Scallie, Castle Terrace, Kora and the Bonnie Badger, as has Martin Wishart with The Honours and his Cook School, while Tomas Gormley and Sam Yorke have built on the success of Heron with Skua in Stockbridge and the soon-to-be-opened Cardinal.

So perhaps it wasn’t much of a shock when serial restaurant entrepreneurs Andrew and Lisa Radford sought to build on the star gained by Timberyard last year, which the restaurant recently retained. After owning and running Atrium, Blue and the Timberyard in Edinburgh at various stages over the past 30 years, their newest venture opened in November.

Montrose is at the top of Easter Road in the Abbeyhill area, and is a short walk from Holyrood Palace and the Old Royal High School. With a young staff headed up by head chefs Jimmy Murray and Moray Lamb, at first sight it has little in common with Timberyard, but once you scratch beneath the surface many of the same hallmarks are there. Montrose is in a two-floor repurposed café, but they have been bold with the design, retaining stone walls and leaving the huge wooden A-frame joists bare. Like Timberyard, Montrose is close to popular areas, but in the sort of hospitality no-man’s land that keeps rents low.

The food also has that same mix of precision and simplicity that marks out The Timberyard, along with the mothership’s trademark chunky prices. Not that the latter seems to have put anyone off: since opening a month before Christmas they have done solid business and after being led upstairs we found the place surprisingly full for a freezing Wednesday evening in early February.

They’re already beginning to see a good number of returnees, and judging by the crowd who were in the night we visited the archetypal customers are young professionals. From the loud chat which was audible over their slightly off-the-wall music, it seems that at least some of them had strolled down from the big hooses in nearby Regent Terrace and Carlton Terrace.

But then if I could afford to come regularly I’d love to have Montrose within walking distance too. From the quality of the food, Jimmy and Moray are doing a great job, something that was obvious as soon as we put down our cocktails (a decent tequila negroni and an underpowered vermouth with soda) and polished off our canapes of red mullet hash brown (which were particularly excellent) and a tiny one-bite tart of parmesan and Hen of the Woods (aka maitake mushrooms).

Once we’d got through the lovely home-made sourdough bread with nduja butter, we hit the guts of the tasting meal with our first course: a mussel taco with wild leek and green tomato. Or at least that’s what it said on the menu – the lighting was so dark that we had to use our phones to read the menu and to be able to squint at the dish itself. In the event, it was a leek and tomato melange on top of a sort of unleavened flatbread and with a side-order of a mussel or two, a combination that made far less of an impact than any of the other dishes on the menu.

Next up was a sublime chunk of cod which could not have been any fresher or more perfectly cooked. Served with surf clams, a cauliflower reduction and green sichuan, it was a palpable ramping up of quality.

Our final savoury course was a partridge leg and breast with a sauce of trompette mushroom that was given a joyously sweet edge by the addition of salted plum and madeira. I’ve eaten partridge countless times down the years but never was the breast meat so tender and succulent, or better complemented by a brilliantly judged sauce.

After a thoroughly enjoyable cheese course which consisted of a large homemade oakcake each, topped with thin slices of creamy, nutty Pitchfork Cheddar from Somerset and a blob of what tasted like caramelised onion chutney, we rounded off with a slice of buckwheat galette that came with a wonderfully tart blood orange sorbet studded with thin slices of orange.

From start to finish, the food was resolutely innovative and as challenging as it was enjoyable. That even extended to the wines, which were all natural, with the Sophie Evans pinot gris from Kent and the Pain Perdu cabernet franc from the Loire the standouts from a dizzyingly eclectic selection.


That mix of genuinely good food with quirky wines has served the Timberyard well, although I’ve always found the Radfords’ obsession with quality over quantity a little vexing – I hate spending a fortune and feeling like you could still polish off a poke of chips on the way home. And, make no mistake, you’ll be spending a good amount if you go to Montrose – the tasting menu is £75 per person, the paired wines are £60 and even the paired softs are £36. By the time you’ve paid for cocktails, (very good) coffee and the obligatory 12.5% service, you’re looking at £170 per person.

Is it worth it? I suspect that Montrose will garner some awards before long, it just feels like that sort of place. And rightly so because the place is very convivial, and the food is very good. I just wish it wasn’t quite so pricey.

Montrose, 1-7 Montrose Terrace, Edinburgh EH7 5DJ. 0131 605 0088 or

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