WORD to the wise – informing your wife that you’re taking her for a romantic dinner at a cattle market doesn’t always illicit the desired effect.
Rather than swooning and thanking her lucky stars that she’d married someone so kind and perfect as me, she looked as though she might be about to cry.
I can see her point. The Porterhouse is in one of the buildings connected to the Thainstone Mart and, if I’d taken her here about four months ago, we might well be divorced by now.
You see the old place, with its agricultural equipment hanging from the walls and barrels placed rustically around, was a tad, well, farmy.
But not any more. Since then, it’s been given a makeover and now its sleek elegance wouldn’t be out of place in one of Edinburgh’s top restaurants.
Breathing a sigh of relief, we took our seats in the bright dining room and nibbled on freshly-baked bread with sea-salt flaked butter.
To start I had the terrine of pork (£6.50) – a simple dish I’ve had many times before but this one was elevated to the next level thanks to the addition of deep-fried balls of trotter meat and a helping of pickled apple and mustard.
The crunchy, piccalilli-inspired apple slices offset the beautifully rich meat. It was the first time I’d tried trotter but it won’t be the last.
Not being the biggest fan of honey, my wife feared the honeycomb emulsion might overwhelm the Deeside smoked duck breast (£6.75) she’d ordered but she needn’t have worried.
The soft succulent duck was smoky enough to keep the honey flavour in check and the quince jelly added a nice touch of sharpness.
A clever economist could probably draw a neat graph illustrating the rule of expensive restaurants – as the price of main courses goes up, the amount of food on your plate goes down.
Thankfully, Porterhouse doesn’t seem to follow the rule book.
Both our main courses were piled high with ingredients – but not in an unruly way.
Everything worked together and we certainly were getting our money’s worth.
I had the roast loin of venison (£18.50), which came with caramelised shallots, parsnip puree, pear and rosemary conserve and port sauce. While there were loads of flavours on the plate, none dominated, letting the gamey venison (perfectly cooked, by the way) take centre stage.
My wife went for pan-fried smoked salmon (£16.50), which came with a feast of spring flavours – baby leeks, crushed new potatoes and a lively horseradish butter sauce.
After the runaway success of the first two courses I have to admit the dessert – Braeburn apple tart tatin (£6.50) – was a bit of a let-down.
While the ice-cream, made from tonka beans (similar to vanilla) was lovely and the apples were doused in a heady calvados jus, the pastry was over-cooked and bitter.
But that was the only thing from our meal that left a nasty taste.
Everything else was near-perfect and highly deserving of a best-in-show rosette.