Some days you find that combination of great food and relaxed service that makes for an unforgettable meal.
This unassuming little place is tucked away up Comiston Road in Morningside, Edinburgh. Big on flavours and seasonality, it serves brilliant, good value, high quality meals in a relaxed and friendly way. The choices for gluten free are good and the communication between front of house and the chef was clear to see, so I was comfortable in my choices.
We visited August 21 for a birthday dinner with friends, bringing our own wine as the restaurant is BYOB. Seated in a booth-type seat in the window, we were comfortable and well placed to view the menus written on blackboards on the wall.
The seasonality really does make itself clear here. There were choices of venison, autumn vegetables, mussels, foraged mushrooms and squash. With everything sourced locally and organic, this is food which has not travelled far to the plate, making for good dining. The choices for gluten free are wide and in fact, there was very little I could not have – largely the one pasta dish and the dips with breads.
To start, the resident gluten-eating boys went for the dips and breads, which were on a sharing platter and looked fantastic (sadly!). I had the mussels with saffron, tomato, cider and sweet cicely. This came in a nice looking pottery bowl and had a tasty broth at the bottom. While bread would have been nice to soak this up (it comes with bread for the gluten-eaters), a spoon served the purpose well. Another friend had the carpaccio of venison with smoked beetroot, which was tasty and a tumble of beautiful pink colours.
Our mains were also good with plenty of choice. I chose a superb venison with autumn vegetables, boulangere potatoes and some gorgeous gravy. The venison was pink and tender and the vegetables punchy. The other meals of crab pasta and salmon also looked good and the beautifully cooked vegetables and potatoes are clearly a feature of this kitchen.
Pudding-wise, I was only limted in my choice if I had wanted crumble, but as I eat that often at home, I was happy to skip it. The orange chocolate chestnut torte instead, was smokily chocolatey and delicious with a scoop of ice cream: a lovely way to round off a birthday dinner.
August 21 will have a rotating seasonal menu and with a good choice of gluten free, it is a recommended venue for a relaxed and delicious dinner with friends. It gets busy, due to the combination of brilliance and size, so make sure you book in advance.
August 21 is a newcomer to Edinburgh and has a sister cafe on Causewayside, which also looks terrific and I have heard it sells good coffee. The Causewayside one also has a Monday night curry night, which I bet is as fantastic as the Bistro!