It’s a rare thing to find a restaurant you feel compelled to visit twice in one week but Howies newly re-opened Cellar on Alva Street proved to be just such a gem.
Re-launched on the 1st of October Howies Cellar has broken from the traditional three course meal format of the rest of the Howies stable and offers a Scottish tapas – for want of a better word, our waiter told us that they tried to find a better description but couldn’t – with a commendable mix of seasonal fare.
The spruced up restaurant is sizeable but has a relaxed and intimate feel thanks to four cozy dining areas, including the newly converted conservatory at the rear. Over our two visits we sampled well over half of the sharing menu, which boasts a wide variety of dishes that appeal to meat, fish and veg lovers alike.
Soft, delicately smoked Scottish salmon is served with cream cheese and lemon on rounds of pumpernickel bread, a break from the norm of oatcakes but a tasty departure. Crispy and light calamari with lemon mayonnaise was another classic fishy treat.
Gruth Dhu is a creamy crowdie style cheese coated in smashed pepper and oatmeal. Lovely in it’s own right but breaded, fried and meltingly gooey it reaches a whole new level of tastiness. Served with a tattie scone and onion marmalade this dish was so good that on our first outing one of our diners scoffed the lot!
Crispy lamb shoulder rissoles burst open to reveal creamy mashed potato laced with melt in the mouth shredded lamb, perfectly offset by a tarte tomato sauce. Another delight for the carnivorous diner was honey glazed pork belly slices. Rich, soft and gooey pork with crispy skin and moreish, autumnal Granny Smith chutney that left us wishing for more.
The jewel in the crown of Howie’s sharing menu is venison collops, cooked to pink perfection and served on a bed of sweet and spicy braised red cabbage. Of all the dishes, this one was the hardest to share.
Add to this some simple but delicious side dishes including sautéed poatoes with garic and parsley or green beans with deliciously crispy bacon lardons there really is something for everyone. Apologies to the vegetarians reading this, we were drawn like moths to a lightbulb by the meaty dishes on offer but rest assured there is plenty to satisfy you too.
If after all of this you have any space left, dessert is offered in smaller portions for sharing too. The dark and indulgent chocolate mousse was just that but we didn’t share. It was the perfect end to dinner for one.
Howies, 1 Alva Street, Edinburgh. Tel: 0131 225 5553
Dinner for two with wine £48.50