Review: Under the Table, Edinburgh

Review: Under the Table, Edinburgh

In Edinburgh’s New Town, Richard Bath is pleasantly surprised by new subterranean restaurant Under the Table.

Our IT department run all sort of analysis of what readers like, what they spend time on and what turns them off. The short story is that readers like short reviews. They don’t want a list of dishes and lots of descriptive waffle, and while they are tangentially interested in décor and ambience etc, basically you just want to know whether, in the opinion of the reviewer, the restaurant is any good and whether it represents value for money.

So here’s the short version. Under the Table was a real surprise, with outstanding food at a price point well below competitive restaurants, and a really smart but non-intimidatory environment. For the avoidance of doubt, I really liked it and have already recommended it to a slew of friends.

First, some background. Its mothership, The Table, which is above Under the Table (naturally) is a restaurant for ten people at a time, where there’s one sitting per evening in which guests sit around an open kitchen and interact with chef-patron Sean Clark, while his partner-in-crime Paul O’Donoghue takes care of the wines. It’s been around since 2015 and has a hard core of loyal followers.

So when the space literally under the table became available, they jumped at it and since April have been steadily building themselves a strong reputation for contemporary Scottish cuisine with a marked Italian influences interspersed with French flourishes. That’s mainly down to head chef Alberto Giaccone, a young Italian from the foot of the Alps in Piedmont, who previously headed up the food operation at the East Lothian golf club, Renaissance Club.

Think of its offering as really relaxed fine dining, and you’ll be in the right place. O’Donoghue is in charge of the excellent wine list, and is always on hand with really interesting suggestions. In our new spirit of brevity, I’m not going to list all of the dishes (there were six starters, six mains and six puddings), but here’s a quick rundown of what we ate.

To start, I had the pigs ear ragu on toasted focaccia (£9), which featured a mix of deep, rich flavours that made it startlingly enjoyable. My dining partner’s crab, elderflower and grapefruit (£13) was also a hit. The mains were equally enjoyable: my four chunks of braised beef cheek in a sea of whipped coffee polenta (£20) was seriously good and beautifully presented, while Pixie’s sea bass with kalamata puttanesca and fennel puree (£19) was light and perfectly cooked. Finally, I finished with my go-to pudding of tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream (£9), which was solid but unspectacular.

My conclusion? On every level, Under the Table exceeded my expectations, and in a period when prices have risen out of all reasonable proportion, represents really good value.

Under The Table, 3A Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6QG; 0131 281 1689

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