Noto 47A


You booked a seat at the bar, says the chirpy greeter person as I blow into Noto bang on 8.30pm on this so-so Tuesday evening. Damn, I did, I remember. And I also instantly realise that even if she doesn’t think I am an idiot (she may), I definitely know I am.

This bar area in Noto is, ugh, like a cloakroom from a 1960s kitchen sink drama, grey walls, bare dim bulbs and very annoying and wobbly stools. Double annoyingly, through that internal door I can hear the dining room action right next door is going like a damn fair: warm lights, tinkling laughter, general happy Embra hubabuba.

You would think, then, as I sit here – the enthusiasm draining from me almost as fast as money will soon be gushing from my bank account – that the night is already a dud. But no.

And I say this to Joe as I dip another hunk of sourdough into a brown crab shell filled with what looks to the untrained eye to be, uh, soup. It’s not. Or it may be. But if it is it’s butter soup, Paisley patterns of chive and dill oil squirted atop it, thick layers of fine white crab meat being dredged up from the crustacean silted bottom. Different. £12.

READ MORE: New Glasgow Indian restaurant Bombaywalla fails to sparkle

READ MORE: Wagamama is still down with the kids - I'm not sure why

Now a kale salad, fish sauce, mint, coriander is sliding across the hard counter. Nine whole Scottish bangers for a small-ish bowl that confuses at first: some of the leaves tasting dried, others seeming bland, then – whoosh – I hit the motherlode of fishy, saucy, tangy, slivers of celeriac, dressing and it too is different. In a good way.

Now, whether they overhear our amazement that Edinburgh folks abandon all their earthly belongings: coats, Macs, scarves, hats and brollies at the front door of a restaurant and actually expect them to be there when they finish eating, or Noto simply does keep customers happy, we’re being moved into the body of the Kirk.

A plate of Arbroath Smokie croquettes, katsuobushi (£12) bobbing along beside us and as soon as we are settled in the restaurant at the back: Fried Buttermilk Chicken, Kimchi, coffee arrives too. Those croquettes, half a dozen little balls of rich, seasoned haddocky pleasures disappear fast.

The chicken on the other hand? Three large, dare I say, nuggets, prompting a guess-how-much game, (£16), are there to be savoured. The price? The portion? Ridiculous. The flavours? Pretty ridiculous too. The chicken is super-juicy, packed with flavour, crumbing, crisp then a blast of coffee after-taste. Three is not actually enough. But six is actually too expensive.

The Herald: Noto 47ANoto 47A (Image: free)

So it’s onto duck Bao Buns. Normally white, puffy boreballs but tonight, Matthew? Wow, the best dish so far. Stuffed with meaty, savoury duck, sprinkled with fresh spring onion and textured with a sweet, crunchy, crumbly fried onion topping.

There’s actually two buns too. For £15. Let’s pause then. We’re in Michelin Bib Gourmand land here. The award for restaurants that serve great food, are a bit more relaxed and, irony alert here surely, reasonably priced.

Get Ron's review two whole days before it appears anywhere else.

Noto is also one of Edinburgh’s current food darlings. The accents around us tonight include Morningside, of course, but a lot of Americans too.

Anyway, the food in here never really stops coming. No perceptible delay between dishes. Little sitting waiting time, a very slick kitchen.

In the time I've been talking we have consumed a bowl of Potato Udon, Enoki Mushroom and Egg Yolk (£16). I’m thinking flumps, you know these floppy mallow strings for kids, equally light but full on spud, mushroom and that yoke for forking alongside. Frankly? Dull. Not for me.

More mainstream is the Short Rib, Cherry Mustard, Celeriac and Miatake (wild mushroom), ooh is it just one, very short rib? Melty, meaty, sticky-from-the-oven mouthfeel, punchy cherry mustard top flavour layer, (small) plate scraped clean. But £24? Crikey.

We’re not finished yet though. All good restaurants know the power of a knock-out dessert. Get you sweetened up for the bill that’s coming like an express train (£146.25) It’s not the Yorkshire rhubarb encased in a diaphanous meringue casing, though it’s pleasant enough. It’s the Chocolate, Miso, Pedro Ximinez, Malted ice cream combo of sweet, soft, warm and salty deliciousness. Love this one.

Noto 47A

Thistle Street Edinburgh


Open Seven days

Menu: It’s still one of Edinburgh’s hottest restaurants with Duck Bao Buns, Fried Chicken, Arbroath Smokie croquettes and other clever want-to-try stuff. 5/10

Service: Very professional, clearly used to handling a non-stop busy service, moved us from the bar too - even though I booked a seat there. 5/5

Atmosphere: The customers are the atmosphere, otherwise it’s fashionable minimalist and aesthetic, avoid eating at the bar. 4/5

Price: The prices seem reasonable for the quality of the food, but portions are small and you need a lot of them and that means: pretty pricey. 3/5

Food: Knock-out dishes include that chicken, but what a price, and the delightful Duck Bao Buns. Would not have the short rib again. A class act overall. 8/10

Total 24/30