Noto is the second restaurant from chef Stuart Ralston, who also operates tasting menu restaurant Aizle. Found on a chic street in the New Town, Noto describes itself as ‘a New York-inspired restaurant with a love for Asian cuisine.’
Don’t let that somewhat confusing description put you off though, as this isn’t a gimmicky blend of American and Asian dishes. Instead, Noto is inspired by New York solely in its style (Ralston lived in the city for some time), which sees the restaurant serve a selection of small Asian-accented sharing plates in an unassuming dining room, which features bare plaster-washed walls, pendant lighting and sanded-down wooden tables.
The pared-back interiors are all a ploy though, as what comes out of the kitchen is far more complex and accomplished than the minimalist surroundings would suggest. As at most sharing concept restaurants, the food at Noto arrives as and when when it’s ready and ranges from one-bite pleasures to slightly larger offerings which you won’t have to fight over.
Highlights from our visit included a trio of croquettes, which oozed cheese and arrived topped with a snowdrift of grated parmesan, while a usually dull gem lettuce salad was elevated with shreds of fried chicken skin which added a welcome crunchiness.
A potato-based dish was also a thing of beauty – here, the humble vegetable is sliced into thin layers, before being pressed together to be served as dense rectangles, crisp and golden around the edges and topped with curls of equally crispy bacon (veggies can have it without the bacon).
The two desserts available on our visit sat at opposite ends of the richness scale. The base of a flaky tart was topped with a dollop of fluffy cream and delicately assembled Scottish raspberries, while a sinfully rich chocolate and hazelnut pudding was crowned with a swirl of blowtorched meringue and contained the kind of sugar content that would have a five-year-old bouncing off the walls.
Sweet-natured staff, a well-chosen list of small batch wines and a calming atmosphere helped us fall further in love with Noto, while the impossibly pretty cheese course – which is designed to look like a coral reef – is testament to a kitchen that really cares. As is often the case with small plate restaurants, the bill at Noto can add up; make no mistake though, dining here is worth every penny.