La P’tite Folie – Edinburgh à la française

I may be a distant descendant of the Pictish warriors that made up Clan Gunn, and my mother might hail from the more insalubrious districts of Glasgow, but this couldn’t stop the Jamieson family venturing as far as Scotland’s capital only to wind up lunching in a Breton restaurant, La P’tite Folie. There we were, falling over ourselves to impress the waiter with our gutteral “r” rolling, making those knowledgable grunts of satisfaction only fine connoisseurs can muster as we perused the wine list and freezing our backsides off as we’d been placed by the front door.

La P’tite Folie on Frederick Street is a small, intimate affair, but its airy high-ceilinged room means you don’t feel you’re sitting on your neighbour’s lap. It bears enough gallic memorabilia on its walls to appear genuine rather than those “buy in a box” rustic Provençal places where you can barely take a step without bashing your head against a hanging empty wine flagon or low-flying Bayonne ham.

Dad ordered le steak frites, cooked “medium” – shudder! The meat was tasty and tender, despite being far too brown much for my liking (if it ain’t still mooing, don’t bring it to my table). The frites were nothing to write home about, but crispy and freshly made and overall perfectly satisfying.

I started with a mini steak tartare, topped with a quail’s egg. It felt for a moment as if the sole purpose of a quail’s existence on Earth was to provide eggs conveniently small enough to top miniature versions of this bistro classic. The meat was of excellent quality, with just enough chopped cornichons to add a bite but not overwhelm. The egg was just enough to soften the consistency and not transform the meat into beef mayonnaise.

I continued with haddock poached in white wine au beurre blanc. This was frankly a tad disappointing as the fish was clearly right off the boat that morning, but had been slightly overdone giving a rubbery quality that didn’t match the smooth sauce. It was full of flavour however and well matched with the lemoniness of the beurre blanc. Potatoes and mange-tout accompanied the lot.

Mum got the pick of the bunch with her confit de canard poached in red wine, the meat was falling off the bones before she even picked up the fork and the punch of the wine enhanced the sweetness of the duck. The mussels she started with would have been more exciting with the garlic butter and toasty breadcrumbs they were supposed to come with, but that’s what Weight watchers will do to you, make you deny the joyous sins of BEURRE in all its forms – mum shunned the garlicky normandy butter salé and the result was a bowl of acceptable, but tame Moules Marinières.

We washed the whole lot down with a bottle of Chilean Cabernet Sauvigon then proceeded to dessert. I had crème brulée which was good, but not more. Dad had a dubious looking mint sponge which I admit to not trying (funny how that damn small quail’s egg tipped me over the edge of the cream/dairy/egg content of the day).

All in all the meal was proper french food the way I remember it, with not a whiff of phoniness, of trying too hard or with dodgy wall stencils of men in berets wheeling baguettes about on bicycles.They also have a branch in the West End at Tudor House, with a slightly tweaked menu and an expansive wine bar for the pre-theatre crowd.

La P’tite Folie

0131 225 7983

61 Frederick Street


0131 225 8678

Tudor House, 9 Randolph Place



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