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New opening brings small plates, wine & good times on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile

17/01/2023
The Black Grape, Edinburgh

THE Black Grape Restaurant and Wine Bar has opened on Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile. With an emphasis on quality locally-sourced produce, the sharing-style menu is designed to create a feast for sharing at the table, or simply to enjoy with a glass of wine in the sumptuously appointed bar.

Divided into sections of meat & game, fish & shells, raw, small plates, sides and snacks, the menu presents bold flavour combinations skilfully executed by head chef Owen Morrice. Accompanied by an impressive drinks list, including sixteen original cocktails and wines from boutique and esoteric producers, The Black Grape delivers a laid-back dining experience in sleek surroundings.

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The 60-cover venue is split over two levels, with the bar occupying the street-level entrance area, where a communal 10-seater table takes centre stage. Seating is also available at the terrazzo-topped bar and individual high tables. Up a few steps, yet still visible from the bar, the bright and airy restaurant features a discreet private booth and elegant half-moon banquettes of soft lichen green leather that look out over the Royal Mile.

The Black Grape takes inspiration from the world’s best restaurants where innovative cuisine and polished service come together in a convivial and relaxed environment. The menu encourages sharing, inviting diners to experience dishes from every section to create a feast at the table.

From the ‘raw’ section, there’s locally-sourced salmon tartare, studded with lemon and brown butter capers; Japanese-style beef tataki with yuzu hollandaise, topped with crispy shallots; and native oysters served in the classic style with a house hot sauce.

Earthy wild mushroom spring rolls that come with umami-intense black garlic can be found in the ‘small plates’ section; whilst velvety blue cheese croquettes with black grape jelly and pickled red chilli are one of the ‘snack’ options. Bread comes in the form of daily-baked house brioche served with whipped butter.

In the ‘meat & game’ section, Scottish wild venison is served with burnt celeriac skin dukkha, jus and brambles. Freshly-made ravioli are filled with slow-cooked ox cheek floating in a bone broth accented with tomato. And chicken yakitori is cooked over charcoal before being adorned with satay and spring onion.

The ‘fish & shells’ section features hand-dived scallops, served in the shell with bacon fat butter, celeriac and apple. Dressed crab with fried potato and bearnaise, and tempura prawns served with habanero mayo and charred lime can also be discovered in the seafood section.

The dessert menu includes a zingy yuzu meringue pie with raspberry and white chocolate; an indulgent sticky chocolate pudding with salted caramel custard; as well as cheese from I.J. Mellis and after-dinner cocktails to ensure a satisfying end to the meal.

The Black Grape’s wine list was compiled in collaboration with acclaimed wine merchants Hallgarten. The list explores some of the world’s most intriguing vineyards and features a range of eclectic varietals from around the globe such as Georgian Saperavi, Tuscan Vermentini and Galician Treixedura.

In developing the cocktail list, The Black Grape enlisted the services of Joey Medrington, former recipient of Class Magazine’s ‘Bartender of the Year’. Together with The Black Grape’s team, sixteen innovative recipes were devised, each with a unique part to play in the drinking and dining experience.

The signature aperitif ‘sour grapes’ mixes Haku vodka with lemon oil, black grape cordial and sauternes to whet the appetite. The ‘parliamentarian’ high-ball cocktail, a nod to nearby Holyrood, adds a fiery scotch-bonnet kick to Highland Park 12-year-old. The classic margarita cocktail pays homage to the site’s history and is given a sophisticated twist with the ‘pancho’s margarita’, a combination of Ocho Blanco, heather honey, bee pollen, pineapple, pressed lime and sea salt.  Whilst ‘golden slumber’—made with cacao butter, Macallan 12-year-old, coconut rum and chocolate bitters—makes a perfect night-cap.

The Black Grape is the first restaurant venture from Murray Ainslie and business partners Stuart Hunter and Cameron Taylor. Murray is a highly respected figure on the Edinburgh hospitality scene, having launched and operated some of the some of the city’s most popular bars and restaurants during 12 successful years with The Compass Group

Murray commented: “Creating this unique offer has been a fantastic experience for Stuart, Cameron and me. It is a culmination of years of dining out and socialising together and we’re very proud of it. We’ve created an experience inspired by some of our favourite restaurants across the world. Each drink and dish has been carefully considered and we aim to recreate the amazing buzz that the best bars and restaurants offer. Whether you’re joining us for a glass of wine and a small plate, or feasting with a group of friends, we want you to feel at home.”

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