TO a cutesy shop front restaurant mid-way down Leith Walk then, with lashings of white wall action, stainless counters, Scandi-blond benches and stools so fashionably narrow that I’m doing an impression of a baby elephant on a beach ball within minutes of touching down.

“How many customers have fallen off these so far,” I ask the waitress by way of idle chit-chat as she glides up to guide me through the chicest of little menus: expensive card, narrow cut, thin descriptions and fat prices.

But we’re in Edinburgh, after all. As I’m recounting this to Joe minutes later, while we slide down slivers of cured halibut, orange kosho blobs for eyes, peppery burn for afters, salty sea-dog flavours in there somewhere, I realise she didn’t really answer.

Now, there’ll be a moment when someone at the counter behind that pillar cranks the sound up so loud, again, that we can’t actually hear each other gossip.

And there will be many, many moments when food is brought to our bench, such as these extraordinary-looking falafel, piped black garlic butter-cream-alike, sesame, yoghurt a swooshy, swirly sensation of flavours with a sharp bitter aftertaste and then a smooth and crunchy undertaste, when we can't hear a word of the breathless ingredient descriptions what with masks and music and appropriately reverential hush.

These descriptions in these super-confident but still out-there restaurants are designed really to impress, dazzle, perhaps even intimidate, rather than in anyway educate.

But when the music slides effortlessly on into T Rex “Get it on, bang a gong” and we’re staring at a rectangular object, or is that objet, with more piped swirliness atop that looks just like an individual carrot cake, I’m not really caring anymore.

This will be the hash brown. Smoked cod’s roe, artfully named vadouvan (spiced) lime, a crispy, savoury and then a salty and citrussy crowd-pleaser that has us paying attention to the next culinary spaceship to arrive from planet far-out.

Is it a blob, is it an ice-cream, what’s that crazy black dust a-covering its stark whiteness, man?

Answers in a forkful as layers of frankly delicious cured kohlrabi, shiso and good old fashioned hunks of scarlet beef tartare are consumed.

There’s something else in there but after three goes trying to work out what it is, I give up.

Few things are more tiresome nowadays than the enigmatic brevity of modern menus but then we are being mystically entertained, rather than filled.

Buttery hand-crafted ravioli are next to be peered at, spooned around, garlicky undertones appreciated, hazelnut crunch considered, silky sweet leek savours marked as present and correct.

By now, incidentally, after commencing at £6 for that falafel, moving to around £7-odds for the halibut slivers and hash brown, we’ve poked our heads into twelve quid for the tartare, £14 for the ravioli and – seat-belts tightened – I’ll be paying a soaring £21 for the pork, char sui and turnip that has arrived.

I would moan about this were it not for the delicate (sous-vide I’m assuming) slices of densely flavoured meat, the clear and present eastern seasoning and the freshness of the whole shooting match that has the two of us mmm-ing and nodding and doing that no, no, you-have-the-last-slice gig (I do incidentally).

There’s a knock-out tirami-choux, an Edinburgh variation of French-American pastry chef Dominique Ansel’s cronut if you ask me, that is all cool, smooth, velvety and crisp pleasures. Very, very good even at £8.50.

And then it’s the not inconsiderable (£85 for two, no alcohol) bill to be paid, and a bit of clumsy bumping into other diners as we squeeze our way out the door.

Eleanore, then? You wouldn’t come here for a bifter tea after a long hard shift chipping away at the coalface of truth, but if it’s revitalising a jaded palate with a cat-walk of short, sharp sensations you are after, then this is the place for you.


30 Albert Place


0131 600 0990

Menu: Slim, long and on expensive card. Artful hash browns, leek ravioli, cured halibut and orange kosho. Pushing that envelope in an interesting way. 5/5

Service: I may moan about the enigmatic menu, the pointless recounting of obscure ingredients but the staff are still very professional, relaxed and pleasant. 5/5

Price: They’re trying to entertain you and they certainly do. As always, there’s a price for that. Small plates = big bills, welcome to the world. 3/5

Atmosphere: Tiny double shop front restaurant, thin bench tables, scary stools, occasionally blaring music yet still has an interesting vibe. 4/5

Food: That crunchy, tangy, hash brown disguised as a carrot cake, the flawless and delicious pork char siu, even the Tirami-choux – food worth trying. 9/10