Café Fish has swum upstream from the bottom of comparatively affordable Leith to Stockbridge.
Their two-year-old venue on Henderson Street is now shut, and they’ve re-opened in the swanky former premises of Zanzero on North West Circus Place. Then, this 76-cover former bank seemed offputtingly crowded.
I’m not sure how they’ve fixed the feng shui, but it now feels airy, with outside seating, an aluminium champers bar, dinky cacti on the tables and parquet floors.
Still, as far as the food goes, I didn’t have high hopes, since I wasn’t that impressed by the original restaurant.
Despite this, the menu’s smoked salmon, crab and mango tian (£8) was beckoning, as was the Serrano ham, roast peach and purple basil (£8), both of which we decided to share among our posse of three (me, Flipper and Jaws).
The former option was fresh and summery, consisting of a sandcastle-shaped mound of pleated smoked salmon underneath a layer of crabmeat. This was topped by a colourful, salsa-like concoction of nibs of sweetcorn, chopped coriander and a little red chilli. The whole shebang had been drizzled with a touch of a Tabasco-spiked and tomatoey “bloody Mary vinaigrette” – zingy.
However, there was no sign of the mango, as billed: not that this dish was particularly amiss. Still, if you had zeamaysophobia (an irrational fear of sweetcorn), you might not be clapping your fins together with joy.
Our other starter was a generous assemblage of goodies. You can’t really complain about caramelised quarters of sticky roasted peach alongside slices of a decent ham, herby leaves and big smooth blobs of milky bocconcini, with a scratching of salt’n’pepper, plus a drizzle of olive oil. We were happy.
For my main, I’d opted for the grilled Scrabster plaice (£19). This was a kite-shaped slab of feathery light, melty fish, drenched with garlic butter, and topped with blanched baby gem, which still had a little crunch, as well as a handful of mouse-coloured girolles and three baby tatties with toasty skin. Beautiful.
Jaws had also chosen well, when it came to his Goan monkfish and prawn curry (£18). Huge wads of meaty fish and ginormous prawns were smothered in a maroon tamarind and coconut sauce, with a sucker punch of chilli. My toothy dining partner wondered why, in that case, there was only a thimble-sized ramekin of basmati rice. He needed loads more carbs to dilute this curry’s kick.
When it came to the North Atlantic cod (£13), I think Flipper had the least successful dish. Compared to the other two options on the table, it was a little dullsville. A slightly underdone pillow of crispy-skinned cod was perched on a pile of rather bland ratatouille. The main flavour was provided by the salty tapenade along the edges of the plate.
For dessert, we all wanted Valrhona chocolate delice (£7), so asked for three spoons and ordered the white peach and strawberry trifle (£6) as well. Unfortunately, the latter failed to excite, with clouds of whipped cream and mascarpone that obscured everything else in the sundae glass. The chocolatey option was much lovelier, with a dense, cocoa-powdered cylinder teamed with a flourish of yellow “salted passion-fruit caramel” and a scattering of tart raspberries.
Very good, but their much-improved menu probably doesn’t have anything to do with their upmarket EH3 postcode. In much the same way as humans – such as Flipper, Jaws and yours truly – started out with gills, scales and boggly eyes, Café Fish seems to have evolved.