Even though it’s almost mid-June and supposedly the start of summer, it’s about 11 degrees outside and the rainiest it’s been in ages. When the weather’s like this, you need some good old fashioned comfort food in a cosy pub.
Element invited me along earlier this week to review their menu. I’ve been in Element quite a few times for drinks and always really enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to seeing if the food matched up to the cocktails.
What We Ate at Element
Element’s menu is focused on pub grub classics with a refined, modern twist. You’ll find things like beer battered haddock with handcut chips and homemade haggis, creamy mash and confit turnip alongside more unusual dishes like home-cured Barbary duck pastrami with pickled strawberries and hazelnuts.
To start, I ordered the Loch Awe sea trout (cured with local Edinburgh Gin) which was served with pickled lemons, dill pancakes and creme fraiche. This was a really nice light starter with fresh flavours – I could’ve definitely eaten a couple more of the little blini pancakes! I like that they used trout, one of my favourite kinds of fish, rather than salmon to make this dish a little bit different. Owen opted for the soup of the day, which was a smooth and creamy red lentil and root vegetable option on the day we visited – perfect for combatting the cold and rainy weather outside.
When it came to mains, there were a few options I was swithering between but I finally settled on the Perthshire beef burger, with added haggis and cheddar cheese for good measure. The burger was great – flavoursome and juicy without being soggy – and the chips were perfect, especially when dipped in the zingy tomato relish. I was only a tiny bit jealous of Owen’s Aberdeen Angus ribeye steak, cooked nicely medium-rare and served with a delicious garlic and herb chophouse butter.
The portions were generous but not too overwhelming, so we still had a little room left for dessert. We both opted for the chocolate mousse to round off the meal with a little bit of indulgence. The mousse was topped with a tart cherry coulis and crumbly chocolate “soil”, and served with two freshly made churros for dipping.
The Atmosphere at Element
Element is a cross between a pub and a restaurant, with a more casual bar area at the front and a cosy dining room at the back. It was quite quiet when we arrived, but we could hear a bit of buzz from the bar and the tables around us soon filled up with other people escaping the rain. There was a nice atmosphere and we ended up staying for another drink after we’d finished our meal as it all felt very relaxed and welcoming.
As with the menu, the decor takes traditional Scottish elements and modernises them. There’s muted tartan patterns and stag antler chandeliers, mixed in with street art-style murals and Pinterest-worthy gallery walls. Element is located on Rose Street which tends to be full of touristy spots and old man pubs, so it feels like a refreshingly different place to eat and drink – still with nice Scottish touches for visitors, but cool enough to be a favourite of locals too.
Worth a Visit?
If you’re looking for somewhere that gets the cosy gastro pub vibe spot on, Element is definitely worth a visit. The restaurant is laid back but also fancy enough that you feel like you’re getting a proper meal out – rather than just grabbing a bar supper along with your pint in the pub.
The service was also great, quick and attentive. Our waiter even recommended some things from the menu, which helped me to decide on the haggis as a topping for my burger! The food was also of a much higher standard than I had been expecting. The classic dishes were a cut above your usual pub grub, and the more inventive dishes wouldn’t have looked out of place on a fine dining menu.
All round, we had a great meal at Element and I’ll definitely be returning. It’s a surprising hidden gem right in the middle of Edinburgh, and very much worth a visit if you’re after casual dining and excellent food.