A longstanding fixture on the Edinburgh scene, Café St Honoré has a classic fin de siècle Parisian look that could have come straight from a canvas by Manet or Renoir. Bentwood chairs are set upon monochrome checkerboard floors while tables are laid with sparkling napery, gleaming white crockery and shiny cutlery.
The food is both more modern and pan-European than the nostalgic setting suggests, with good use made of Scottish ingredients (many organic) where possible. The cooking is in the hands of Neil Forbes – Scottish Chef of the Year 2011 – who used to be at Edinburgh’s late lamented Atrium restaurant.
Things kick off with seafoody starters along the lines of a smoked salmon tartare with pickled cucumber, dill and crouton, or hand-dived Orkney scallops with organic nduja and apples.
Follow, perhaps, with North Sea hake with mash, pak choy, fennel and shellfish bisque or go meatier with the likes of confit chicken leg with sautéed heritage potatoes, chanterelles and greens, or Perthshire venison with black pudding, roast roots and greens. Desserts are traditional – crème brulée, apple cake, chocolate fondant – or there are British cheeses with oatcakes and chutney.
There’s also a short, good-value set menu of ‘Café Classics’ – think ham hock terrine with piccalilli, fish pie, Irish stew and desserts including crème fraîche mousse with English gooseberry compote.
The daily changing menus include dairy-free and gluten-free options, there’s an express lunch priced at £16.50/£20.50 for two/three courses, while Sunday lunch is BYOB if you’re happy to pay £5 corkage per bottle – though the French-leaning wine list is well worth investigating for 15 bottles by the glass, even if prices may leave you wishing you had brought your own after all.
Look out, too, for seasonal masterclasses when Forbes showcases chef tips and technique, with a glass of fizz and a two-course lunch thrown in.