No sooner had chefs Tomás Gormley and Sam Yorke bagged a Michelin star at debut restaurant Heron, they were already onto a second project - Skua - which, besides the seabird connection, has very little in common with its older sibling. Heron is bright, airy, and elegant, with views overlooking Leith Water; Skua is a vibey, intimate subterranean restaurant and bar, illuminated by candles. There are no views here - it's just you and a handful of other punters across a few tables in a moody basement, with four-on-the-floor dance tunes pumping out of the stereo. Oh, and the toilet is outside, so if it’s raining, you might want an umbrella.
The compact menu is such that you can crack on with almost everything on the menu between two; we did just that, leaving only a cote de boeuf for two by the wayside. An opening salvo of vegetarian dishes might be passed over by some, but they’re among the very best things on the menu. Ripe strawberries, green strawberries and tomatoes mingle together in a little pool of tomato water - an assemblage that brings out the vibrant best in these summery friends. High marks also go to a bowl of king oyster mushrooms and girolles, strewn with blushing pink shreds of pickled ginger, and a dish of blowtorched cured mackerel, sliced into pieces and served with a prickly horseradish sauce and the warming aniseed of braised fennel.
Skua’s fried chicken with peach hot sauce has been a favourite since it opened, and though we’re also fans, though we’d have liked more of that delicious hot sauce. The only real miss on the night was a lamb rump and wild peppermint dish, where the peppermint’s overwhelming menthol vibe rather overpowered a nicely cooked piece of lamb.
Still, this is cooking of great assurance. Skua has a commanding hand on the drinks list too, delivering some inspired mixes as well as classics that really pack a punch. Your mileage might vary on the basement dining room, but there's no doubt about the wonderful cooking at Skua - the sky is the limit for this high-flying bird.