Gerry Farrell: Gardener's Cottage is a blooming revelation

I caused trolley rage in the Duke Street Tesco last Friday. I was proceeding in a frozen foods direction when I bumped into Janice who used to run The Clock cafe on The Shore with her partner Davy.

Gardeners Cottage.
Gardeners Cottage.

It used to have the best music, best view, best sandwiches and best homemade soup in Leith. I asked Janice what Davy was up to. Now Janice likes a blether. So she parked her trolley – and her lovely granddaughter Ebony – next to my trolley and she told me what Davy was up to. “He’s working at the gardener’s cottage,” she said. In my head it had no capital letters.

But when I inquired further she told me that it was The Gardener’s Cottage with capital letters. When I wondered why, she said “Because it’s a restaurant, ya fanny!” She didn’t actually say “ya fanny”, I just put that in because that’s how I felt. Not least because I’d never noticed it on any of my numerous travels along London Road.

Well, it turns out to be one of the best restaurants in Edinburgh, with glowing reviews from the likes of AA Gill and Jay Rayner. “You mean it’s a posh restaurant?” I asked Janice. “Not posh at all” she told me. Great, I thought, because you can never really relax in posh restaurants.

The timing was good. Zsuzsa and I had a wedding anniversary to celebrate. I told Janice we might go some night. “Is it vegetarian?” I asked (Zsuzsa’s a vegetarian). “No,” said Janice “but it’s got its own vegetable garden in front of the door.” That settled it. I had to see this place whatever the food was like. So I made a booking.


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Now this isn’t a restaurant review, ok? Some readers of this column have already got narky because they think I get paid to plug other people’s businesses. If only. I could never be a restaurant reviewer. You would have to drink water during the meal so you could remember what you actually ate (maybe that’s why the only restaurant reviewer I’ve ever met is called Richard Bath). Anyway, that’s not my idea of a celebration. Not when there are rhubarb martinis to be drunk. What I will tell you is that me and Mrs F had a BRILLIANT night. We had seven courses (some were tiny)! We had hay ice-cream that actually smelt of hay and we tasted herbs with names like Cicely and Alexander, who knew? But truthfully, I can’t remember much beyond that, blame the drink. And I’m not telling you where The Gardener’s Cottage is because finding it is half the fun.