HERON is so fresh out of the box that when I hear the couple at the next table congratulate their server “on the award of your Michelin star” there’s still a bit of shyness and surprise lacing the response.

Aw, I think, having slurped down a bowl of langoustine broth with tarragon oil by then. I’ve also crunched some porky (oink-oink) pig’s head croquettes with – what the … ? – reindeer moss on top (it’s tangy and salty). And at this very moment I’m debating whether to pop that micro-pretty langoustine tart with lemon jelly in my gob whole. Or act all Edinburgh sophisticated and use the hefty silverware.

🥣 Sign up for Ron Mackenna’s weekly newsletter for the best restaurant reviews in Scotland and plan your weekend dining two whole days before it appears anywhere else. 

👉 Click here to sign up!

Tonight, a Thursday night a mere few days since Heron was awarded one of Scotland’s two new stars, I bolted through from Glasgow on the never-knowingly-fast M8 before hitting the roadworks-polluted visitor-repellent that is Ferry Road, all the while congratulating myself on having had my phone out and the table booked here within minutes of the 2023 awards being announced.

HeraldScotland: Exterior of the restaurantExterior of the restaurant (Image: Heron)

Check me; in the know. Kind of. Yet here I sit, pretty little table secured overlooking Leith Harbour, artfully pale walls, wanly sophisticated wooden flooring, vast plate-glass windows, and all the glamour of a Thursday night in the capital. But frankly? There ain’t nobody here but us chickens.

Heron is only a third full at most. How come? “Once I had a love and it was a gas” is firing from a speaker way down there at that bar area where a lonesome couple draw deep on cocktails, then settling here on the five tables of diners clustered together at the window.


“Soon turned out had a heart of glass,” tinkles Blondie prophetically as I take a slice of that east coast charcuterie (kielbasa and cumin sausage since you ask) and snakily squeeze it into a slice of still warm crusty sourdough.

Palate cleansed, I pause for a moment to marvel at the incredible work that went into hand-charring this single scallop, then finely razoring it, interspersing each slice with perfectly worked blood orange and dashing it all in ponzu sauce.

Then it’s gone. In a few gulps of juicy, tart, salty sea-spray, sweet scallop sensations. Ooft. Delicious. “You can’t go wrong with cheese and potatoes,” announces the red-headed lady at the next table, sitting with a man who from my side-on, dimly-lit view looks like a handsomer Fredo from The Godfather.

She’s right. Galloway farmhouse cheese, some spuds, chives, a bit of Michelin magic and somehow we have a superbly textured, seriously flavoured mid-meal wake-up dish.

And I still have to tackle the world’s best toastie. My interpretation: two slices of prune loaf, striped on a barbecue, oozing Connage Gouda, candied walnuts, dusted with burnt leek powder. It’s an £11 supplement on the £95 tasting menu, and it’s a detour I’m glad I took.

Red mullet for the fish course: wild garlic, little nugetty clams. Venison – light, pink, sauerkraut and fennel. You don’t have to have seen the Michelin movie to know what it will look like. Teased, towered, delicate portions, significant flavours.

The surprising thing about The Heron team is not simply that the owners are the youngest two Michelin star recipients in the country but how far they have come … and how fast. It seems like moments ago I was ordering a home-delivery from their Bad Seeds pop-up during lockdown.

Good as that was, I thought they had flunked the desserts. Something I forget to mention when we have a quick chat at the door on the way out later. Almost zero criticism tonight, though.

I think that venison, like all venison these days, could have been hung much longer to fully develop the flavour. No duffs in the desserts. The sponge on the carrot, ginger and pistachio one manages to be both moreishly savoury and sweet, with an incredible ginger hit. OK, maybe the whole creamy white-chocolate-tasting rhubarb bomb thing needs a tad more refinement. But for a brand, spanking new Michelin star, the only surprise is that it’s not completely full.



87 Henderson Street



Tel: 0131 554 1242 but book online

Opening hours: check online

Menu: One of Scotland’s two new Michelin starred restaurants so expect the freshest of home country ingredients; prepared with real art. 5/5

Atmosphere: Surprisingly quiet on a Thursday night, but long, languid relaxed and comfortable space. 4/5

Service: Faultless: they even scribbled down what was in every dish for me in the middle of service. 5/5

Price: I ate pretty much everything on the menu, slowly, enjoyably and it came to £131. It’s really an evening of food theatre rather than simply a meal. 3/5

Food; that barbecued prune bread toastie; the lightest most intense langoustine tart; but there isn’t a dish that doesn’t deliver something memorable. Good stuff. 9/10

Total: 26/30