Wednesday, 16 November 2016
Edinburgh is Delicious: Autumn/Winter dining at Checkpoint
Now that November has arrived, it's the perfect time to escape the cold with cosy dinners and comfort food. We were super excited to be invited to try Checkpoint's new autumn/winter menu. Based on Bristo Place where the old Forest Cafe used to be, it's a very large and airy restaurant with utilarian chic wooden tables, black piping and speckled floors. It's easily a hipster hangout but had a very welcoming atmosphere and the wait staff were lovely and attentive.
The evening menu has a bites & bowls section that can serve as nice little sharing starters which is what we did. Asking the waitress for her top picks, we chose the sweet potato fries with za'atar yoghurt and heritage roasted carrots with toasted seeds and honey (both £4). Other interesting starter options include a rose harissa, carrot & tumeric bowl with vegetable bhaji and a chorizo, kale & mixed beans with walnut & spinach pesto (both £5). There's a clear emphasis on seasonal produce and our bowls were full to them brim with these delicious goodies that felt quite nutritious as well as a little bit naughty. The za'atar yoghurt was an excellent accompaniment for both dishes and we should have asked for more as it very quickly disappeared before either dish was halfway through. The heritage carrots were roasted well with some bite retained and had a sweet honey dressing and pumpkin seeds. Sadly this yummy sauce was mostly at the bottom of the bowl so the carrots were not quite as covered in it as we'd have liked.
Main courses were divided into fish/meat options, vegetarian plates, burgers and salads. After much swithering we decided on roast cod & pistou cockles served with pan-fried greens (£13) and the ricotta & Parmesan dumplings, hazelnut and sage brown butter with pumpkin puree (£12). Top picks from the nearly-ordered list were a slow roast duck leg, chorizo braised lentils and butternut squash samosa (£15) and a toasted freekah, roasted pumpkin, Mediterranean vegetables and harissa goats curd salad (£7.50). These flavours and ingredients are some of our favourites so it was a really hard choice and even though we were pretty full from our sweet potato and carrots starter, very much looking forward to trying the mains. They arrived relatively quickly and were beautifully presented. The roast cod was a clear winner, cooked perfectly with crispy skin. The plate was covered with abundant greenery which was beautifully seasoned and delicious to eat. The ricotta dumplings were a very generous size and had the pumpkin puree hidden underneath, with brown butter sauce and whole hazelnuts swirled on the plate. The dumplings could have done with being a little smaller just so the proportions of the dish were balanced as there was a more dumpling than sauce which was a shame towards the end of the dish. But overall it was very tasty and the whole hazelnuts added a nice dimension of crunch.
We were very nearly full so decided to share a dessert of pecan & bourbon pie with vanilla ice cream (£6), which felt very seasonally appropriate. The pie wasn't overly sweet as some pecan pies can be and the vanilla ice cream was divine, with a caramel underneath. An excellent espresso later and we were off back into the bracing Edinburgh air, with our bellies full and smiles on our faces. We thoroughly recommend a visit to try their new menu full of seasonal goodness; it's warm atmosphere and tasty food is definitely worth the journey!