Seasonal ingredients are worth celebrating with a true Timberyard-twist at Montrose

If buildings could tell stories, no doubt Montrose House would have some good ones. Built in a Baronial style in the late 1800s as one of Edinburgh’s first pubs, it’s lived many lives since then. In the last few decades it’s been a pub, a café, a lifestyle shop and yoga studio, then more recently, sat empty and unloved. That is until the Radford family, veteran restaurateurs and recent winners of one of Edinburgh’s newest Michelin stars at Timberyard, started a new story here with Montrose. 

The ground floor is a relaxed wine bar, pouring organic low-intervention wines from across Europe alongside a menu of small plates like Islay oysters, saucisson and burrata, and heartier options like Shetland mussels and game sausage with pasta. The space is simple: a long wooden bar with stools, hanging bare bulbs and flickering candles on low tables, unfussy but considered. We’re offered a glass of the open fizz, the convivial bottle sharing approach is part of the vibe. Tonight it’s ‘Susumante’ L’Archetipo, a sparkling rose from Puglia, a 36-hour skin maturation gives it a Ribena hue, with a refreshing dry zesty finish. 

Upstairs in the restaurant it’s a different story. Thick grey curtains line one wall, held closed with hand-hewn pegs. There’s a reverent hush, the tablecloths reach the floor and pillar candles flicker on every table and cluster in the fireplace. The walls have been stripped back, revealing the old walls and original beams. As Timberyard celebrates its industrial building across town, so too is the heritage of Montrose House embraced. In the bathroom you look up inside the iconic corner turret, cobwebs and all. No secrets here. The restaurant offers a four course set menu, Thursday to Sunday, with both vegan and vegetarian options. 

Introductory snacks set the scene. A flax and buckwheat bread with whipped sesame butter and pickled cucumber have me chasing marauding seeds across the pristine table. 
There’s a delightful fat panisse with olives and Cuddy’s cave cheese, and, my favourite, a smoked eel and radish flatbread, which manages to pack salty umami, sweetness and richness into two delicious bites. 

The Herald:

Tender brined mackerel with pickled turnip is a hit, served with a pool of kombu broth with an incredible depth to it: the briney tang of local seaweed with a creamy scallop emulsion. 
Shetland cod is cooked in brown butter, with earthy hen of the woods mushrooms, mustard creme fraiche and a celeriac mash infused with the citrus zing of Sichuan peppercorns. 
It’s deceptively simple, cod and mash, but the layered flavours at play won’t let you forget the calibre of the chefs in the kitchen. 

Head chef Moray Lamb began his career at Timberyard in 2021, left to hone his craft at top restaurants around the UK and Australia before returning to become head chef at Montrose. Lamb’s reverence for each ingredient is evident. A dish of Cylindra beetroot sees the root barbecued, dehydrated, then barbecued again giving an intense smoky flavour. There’s a beetroot puree and a pickle too, and salted plum to cut through the earthy sweetness. Dandelion greens add interest and a little crunch but it’s all about these powerful beets. 

Drinks pairings are excellent. Taking the softs route includes a sea buckthorn juice with bergamot syrup with the mackerel; unfermented grape juice with bog myrtle and linden flowers with the cod; a blackcurrant shrub with the beetroot, and a punchy ginger drink with dessert. It’s wonderful to see the care and creativity extends beyond wine, and the playful balance of flavours with the food.

I don’t know if the proprietors of Montrose House served food in 1890, but there might have been some common ingredients if so: eel, wild game, local vegetables. Montrose shows that seasonal ingredients are worth celebrating, and with a Timberyard-style twist, can make for fresh, modern dishes that are a joy to eat. It’s an exciting next chapter in the story for Timberyard, Montrose House and for food lovers in Edinburgh. 

Montrose, 1 Montrose Terrace, Edinburgh