Leith’s famous motto ‘Persevere’ is writ proud on the ornate stained-glass panels that add to the many charms of Nobles. This Victorian café bar opened its doors for the first time in 1896 and as well as the hefty dark wood bar, wood-panelled walls and marble topped tables that lend an air of tradition, the stained-glass depictions of the ships that once came and went from this famous port provide a decidedly nautical theme. I sit amongst comfy cushions by the window and consider how appropriate Leith’s motto is for Nobles and the rest of the hospitality industry as we emerge from the last 16 months.
The menu at Nobles has a focus on seasonal Scottish produce and as our asparagus growing season draws to an end, I couldn’t resist the Scottish asparagus risotto. The creamy risotto was perfectly cooked and seasoned and the fresh pop of earthy green veg was tender with just enough bite to add contrast to the soft, yielding rice. Mr T is a sucker for a Cullen skink and we could smell the rich, smokiness of the soup even before it was placed in front of him. Bursting with chunks of fish and served with fresh sourdough bread and lashings of butter, this was the perfect starter to keep the wolf from the door.
In fact, it turned out that it was the buffalo that needed to be kept from the door as Mr T decided to give the double stacked buffalo burger, served in a brioche bun with rosemary chips a whirl. The burger was gigantic, juicy and well-seasoned. It was topped with a generous helping of cheese and bacon and served with a sharp knife in order to make it possible to get your chops around. The chips were skin-on, hand cut chunky and delicious, although I didn’t detect any rosemary in the couple that I purloined from my neighbour’s plate.
My hand-dived king scallops from the pristine waters of Loch Fyne were served up with hay crusted celeriac puree, roasted baby gem salad and a delicate dice of potato, spring onion and apple. The three huge scallops sitting proud atop the fruit and veg were nutty, sweet and really well cooked and I loved the sharp tang of apple cutting through their richness.
I rarely order cheesecake for dessert because its my favourite thing in the world and I’m so often disappointed. But I had been impressed thus far so took a chance. The rhubarb cheesecake was simply summer on a plate. The perfect blend of crunchy gingery biscuit base, light and creamy topping, sharp rhubarb compote and sweet strawberry coulis was a joy to behold and I struggled to share, although I had promised I would.
The staff were friendly, chatty and attentive throughout dinner and made us feel very safe and welcome too. Nobles is a gorgeous place to while away a few hours and with food this good I hope it will persevere for at least another century or two.
Nobles, 44A Constitution Street, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 6RS
Website | 0131 629 7215