This week I received one of the nicest gluten free ‘thank yous’ ever when I was taken to enjoy the Aizle experience. Set in the atrium of the Kimpton Hotel on Charlotte Square, Aizle offers just one menu. It’s tweaked according to dietary need, but before booking it is made clear that they don’t make changes to the menu according to taste, but just for those with issues. They are unashamed that you take the experience as it comes, but it delights again and again.
When booking you must tell them of your gluten free needs, which my generous gluten-eating friend did – and it means the chef slots GF alternatives (including freshly baked GF bread!) into the tasting menu as it goes along – you’ll never feel second best.
We also paired wines, giving us the full fine dining experience and it was good! To start we had a glass of gorgeous fruity, sparkling Bodega Ruca Malen from Argentina. It was totally delicious and just packed full of flavour. The menu and wine then takes off and dish after dish of little delights find their way to your table with excellent and friendly service.
The first course was actually three courses! Each a little plate of tasty treats: beautifully shaped beetroot crackers with a creamy dip; a tiny mound of beef tartar with egg and kohl rabi on circle of GF bread; and a melting piece of trout – each beautifully presented and each a miniature work of art.
The bread comes as a course in itself, with lightly fluffed butter, and my muffin sized loaf was homemade, light and of course,
tasty. It’s followed quickly by a wonderful pile of halibut with a lightly fried crown, all in a light shellfish sauce, ideal for dipping the bread in and served with a glass of Riesling. Check out the picture, this course was simply beautiful.
Further courses included a highlight of pink Inverurie lamb with a Roscoff onion; some delicious brie with light little GF crackers; a quick sidestep for lucky GF diners into a gorgeous scallop, gnocchi and cauliflower dish which avoided the one mushroom dish (phew!) and a zingy little raspberry, beetroot sorbet. The final flourish was a chocolatey piece which almost defeated me and then lovely petit fours, peppermint tea and plenty of catching-up chat with my generous gluten eating friend. As we were each about to head off on holiday, this was a perfect wind down from our last days of work before the fun starts.
My wine highlight was the Argentinian fizz, but I also loved the sprightly Piemonte white which came early on. I am a convert to wine pairing these days and enjoy the experience of trying wines that complement the food, but which I would not have chosen myself. Another feature was the interesting flavours of a honey wine with the cheese.
Clearly when you dine at this price, the gluten free experience is going to be wonderful and Aizle is right up there: thoughtful, inventive, seasonal and flavourful, with no sense ever that I was getting second best. Totally gorgeous throughout and while we were slightly hurried through the cours
es, it was all done with complete panache and charm. If I were designing the space, I would add some glass to bring separation from the hotel lobby feel, but apart from that, I felt Aizle almost reached perfection. Worth a detour and a visit to Edinburgh just to experience it yourself.