The Post Box


AND so to the vegetarian main course. Uh-uh, don’t adjust your set or switch over to the other channel. This is actually freely chosen. By me. In a non vegetarian restaurant. And I wasn’t even slightly trying to save the planet or for that matter stop the clocks, cut off the telephone or prevent any bloody dogs from barking over a juicy bone.

It just sounded the most appetising. Crikey, I say to Jim across the table as I surprise myself by announcing I’ll have the roasted hispi cabbage, tomato and harissa ragout, with couscous. He merely peers over his QC-style gold-rimmed spectacles and grunts something avuncular.There’s the cheek of an ox, the breast of a turkey, a slice of the rib section of a whole cow that’s been left dangling for 28 days before being branded on a red hot pan, or I could have had some ducks boiled slowly in oil and then mushitty-mushed into a terrine.

Hey, it can't be anything to do with these once-living sentient things, cos like the rest of us I generally don’t think about that. And anyway? What about Mr Haddock? Whipped from the icy seas, split wide open, hung up by the tail, smoked over a fire, flaked and then packed with rice; fried crisply and dryly in crumb, and the ping pong ball-sized ball result served up to me right now in a gently-lapping leek chowder containing some former members of Mr Mussel’s family.

Frankly? It’s delicious. Crisp, crunchy, moist to the bite, the flavour of the smoky fish curling slowly and seductively over the palate. That chowder tangily smooth, though maybe a little bit too loose.

Now, in a gesture that momentarily brought back a flashback of lunching with my mother, Jim had asked the waiter in this clean, smart little restaurant – white table cloths, plaid drapes, a polished wooden floor – if he could have a starter as a main course. Isle of Mull scallops, monkfish scampi, Romesco sauce and aioli. When it arrives it is four fat scallops seared to carmelisation, two hunky, chunky monkfish tails in a puffed and irregular batter, fresh herbs, and vibrant romescu, cheffy squirts of pale aoili. I think, I want that. Why didn’t I order it?

But then mine arrives, looking pretty hot and my head is turned. A cabbage the shape of a plaice, seared and singed to a glistening, sweet, almost sticky brown, at parts looking black, the whole thing mounded with eye-popping fresh chopped herbs, stripy fennel and pale but interesting sunflower seeds, usually wallflowers in the culinary dance of life. It's flavour-texture-flavour.

I eat the hispi like a steak, cutting across the grain. It’s rich and deeply flavoured, but light too and that couscous is piping hot, steam still rising, dancing with a fiery Harrisa sauce.

The bite of the couscous is so right that for a moment I think it’s pastina or Acini Di Pepe to give them their Sunday name, those tiny little pasta dots that are usually used in soups. I actually stop the waiter and ask him about this, completely forgetting that written in bold italic on the menu still sitting in front of me is the word couscous. D’uh some restaurant critic. Delicious, anyway.

There’s a white chocolate and orange bread and butter pudding, frangelico custard and cranberries brought to the table, spooned, eaten, digested and pretty much enjoyed before I remember to take a photograph or even a single note. It must have been good.

But that main course is what will linger in the memory. Am I going to say meat was my north, my south, my east and west but now I’ve decided that veg is best? Er, no. Nor do we need to pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood but something is happening. Those (usually awful) vegan restaurants on every city street corner, the slowly increasing eco-beat, is pushing change. Vegetables aren’t yet mainstream but it’s looking like they could be.

The Post Box

80 George Street


01738 248971

Menu: The a la carte groans with meat dishes, but the restaurant is bold enough to serve hispi cabbage and seafood in the fixed price menu. Interesting. 4/5

Service: One waiter dealt calmly, warmly and effortlessly with the whole dining room during a fairly quiet Saturday lunch. 4/5

Price: Three-course set menu is £23. It's not exactly at the cheap end of the market but it is Perth. 3/5

Atmosphere: Crisp, clean, white-linened little restaurant in a former post office that gently oozes refinement. 4/5

Food: Hispi cabbage with couscous is the full-flavoured stand-out dish of the day, though the smoked haddock arancini were pretty good too. 8/10