Back in 2021, Lloyd Morse and James Snowdown set out to reinvigorate the West End, launching a restaurant to showcase Scottish suppliers and sustainable produce. Now, this joint champions a "whole animal cooking" ethos, slinging out seasonal, nourishing dishes that have earned the eatery a coveted place in this year's Michelin Guide. So, after a drizzly walk around the city, when we just needed a hug in food form, The Palmerston in Edinburgh seemed like the perfect choice.
The restaurant occupies a square room with sage green walls and high ceilings, welcoming in natural light from tall portrait windows. Glowing orbs hang above the bar and, on arrival, my friend and I both delighted in the clunk of our heels on the gleaming black-and-white tiled floor. It was gorgeous, retaining the efficient air of the bank it had been before.
We kicked off with a couple of cocktails, choosing from a small but sophisticated list. I ordered a spritz (£8), which put a citrusy twist on the Scottish Electric Spirit Co.’s gin and made for a dangerously thirst-quenching aperitif. My friend went for the zingy, gin-based floradora (£8) and loved the combination of damson, lime and ginger. Presented in elegantly plain glasses, the tipples revealed ombre shades of pastel orange and pink.
Two complimentary slices of warm, crusty sourdough and a generous helping of salty butter followed. As well as working closely with local farmers, growers and fishermen to create the menu, The Palmerston supplies other restaurants with its famed bread. We’d accidentally sampled it that morning for brunch in a local café and, even trying it the second time around, we didn't leave one delicious crumb.
Our first dish to arrive was asparagus with ajoblanco (£11) and a soft-boiled egg, dressed in crispy fried capers and breadcrumbs. The ajoblanco was an unexpected star and a first time for me. It’s often compared to gazpacho, but imagine light, nutty hummus that’s all about the garlic. I slathered this onto tender asparagus stems and let it pull the light yet substantial plate together. My friend had the fried Jerusalem artichokes (£9) with sweet gem lettuce, blue cheese dressing and crunchy pecans. A celebration of textural differences, it packed a cheesy punch.
To wash these down, our waiter recommended the 2020 Riesling (£8 per glass). It was fresh, elegant and paired brilliantly with our starters. As the evening drew on and the venue filled, we sank into the soft jazz and conversational buzz of fellow satisfied diners. Up next was the baked Tamworth shoulder (£23), which was served on a bed of tender lentils, bacon and Swiss chard. This was pure comfort food, as a meaty ‘jus’ seeped through the whole dish and counterbalanced the bitter chard. Rosemary wasn’t mentioned in the description, but this aromatic addition worked so well with the bacon-lentil marriage.
Championing the meat-free options, my friend dived into the equally nourishing roast pumpkin (£18) with tomatoey butter beans. Vibrant and herby, this dish came dressed in yoghurt and fresh coriander. Unable to resist a classic, we had custard tart and poached rhubarb (£7) for dessert. In its celebration of seasonal fresh fruit and a no-nonsense approach to the wobbly, yellow favourite, this slice rounded up The Palmerston experience.
The DesignMyNight Digest
With its ever-changing menu, The Palmerston runs in sync with the seasons and only cooks using ingredients at their best. We left feeling truly nourished, still sighing over the bacony lentils. If you’re looking for comfort food that’s deeply attuned to its origins and waiters who are friendly conversationalists as well as efficient professionals, this place could become a staple.
💰 The damage: £100 plus service charge.
📍 The location: 1 Palmerston Place, Edinburgh, EH12 5AF.
👌 Perfect for: Stylish comfort food and supporting Scottish suppliers.
⭐ Need to know: The wine cellar was originally a bank vault – head downstairs for a look.