Herringbone, Goldenacre, Edinburgh



2 South Trinity Road, Edinburgh EH5 3NR

0131 552 3292  www.herringbone-goldenacre.co.uk


Herringbone Interior

The Bill


Starters £4.75 - £7.50 | Mains £12.95 - £18.90

Desserts £4.00 - £7.50


Starters £4.75 - £8.50 | Mains £14.50 - £20.95

Desserts £4.00 - £7.50

The Score

Cooking  6/10 | Service 4.5/5

Flavour  4/5 | Value 5/5

TOTAL 19.5/25 

You can talk of your Ionesco/You can talk of Harold Pinter

If you think this is culture's crown/Just come here in the winter

Thus wrote a cynic in a review to mark the end of a previous Edinburgh Festival. We're not in winter yet, but the Festival is over and the students aren't back. All eating establishments are struggling and we're miles from the centre of town.

Well, no one has relayed these gloomy thoughts to the lovely Blair family who own Buzzworks. On a Thursday evening this place was heaving. A guitarist was playing - mercifully at a sensible volume, which is rare - and our table wasn't quite ready. They could have plonked us at the worst space in the house, but had the good sense to ask us to wait at the bar while they prepared a good one for us. In fact there wasn't even time to order a drink before we were whisked into the body of the kirk.

Here I am going to slip in my only negative comment - and it is a tiny one - of the entire proceedings. On the waiting side, they were clearly short staffed. Isn't everyone these days? The two ladies on duty were working their socks off, but there was no communication whatsoever for a while, and I was starting to get a little antsy. Deducting half a point from an otherwise perfect service score, here are a couple of pointers for the lovely Katie. Take 15 seconds to make eye contact, say you are really busy and that you will be with us very soon. Or, send the barman over to make contact and take a drinks order. Or, better still, both.

In Maslow's Hierarchy of Diners' Needs, food generally isn't at number 1. I would place it at 3 behind contact and a drink. Pretty soon though, we have Katie's full attention. At first a bit flustered and overly apologetic, she became our guide, mentor and friend for the rest of our stay.

I've been to a few of the Buzzworks establishments (they are now up to 18, I think).  They acquired the Herringbone business in 2022. This place, one in North Berwick and a third, which was then under construction, in Abbeyhill in Edinburgh.

I've banged on before about neighbourhood restaurants.  The east Inverleith/Goldenacre area, where reside Big Sister and her husband J, was a bit of a desert until this place opened. The Blairs know the business inside out, and instinctively know what their customers want. They have the people skills to develop and retain decent staff, and to keep a close eye on what those staff are bringing to the table, in every sense. Therein lies the difference between them and faceless chains aiming for the difficult middle range market.

I assumed I knew what the menu would look like, and was very pleasantly surprised to be wrong. I bullied the assembled company into two courses. Beginning at the bottom, my chilli squid rings were so uniform that I'm convinced they were bought in. Not great and not that crispy, but the accompanying chimichurri sauce was one of the best I've had, and I'm not usually a fan. BS enjoyed the creamy mushrooms on toast. Perhaps someone should tell the kitchen that it is possible to cut sourdough slices which are less than an inch (2.5cm) thick. Lamb and fig rillette was the most interesting sounding of the starters. Rillettes involve very slow cooked meat, usually pork. I don't think the real French version would work in this country, as they are usually topped with a lot of fat. The lamb ones here were correctly cooked and the fig added flavour.

Starters for 4, fine, but just a warm up for the main event. Be warned: be hungry when ordering course 2. A dish of French trimmed chicken contained a breast and a leg, herb crushed potatoes, green beans and mushrooms. It was also festooned with a lot of brambles. At they prices they charge here (dearest main course £20.95), they couldn't afford to serve steak of any quality. The ingenious solution? Serve some seared slices with rocket and parmesan. Good quality meat, perfect execution. And the price includes some stunningly good, home made chips.

To the sea. Again, sensible buying, hake and coley. The former was done quite classically, pan seared with pancetta, mussels and peas. Very seared, so much so that the flesh was a little over, but very tasty. I had no idea what to expect from Gochujang coley. Biggish chunks came in a glistening coat studded with black and white sesame seeds. There were little chicory leaves, bits of "smashed" cucumber and a sesame dressing. Heat from the Korean paste, a gloopy sauce to stop it being dry, the endive and cucumber  for a little cool, along with a sliver or two of pink grapefruit. This was a dish of which any kitchen anywhere would be proud. The portion was huge. I kept telling myself I had had enough, lowered my cutlery, then kept going back till I'd scoffed the lot. Sensational.

Katie was an ever present in a good way. House rules dictate asking the clientele if everything is OK with their meal. Katie did this unobtrusively. She refilled glasses.  She brought more wine, and sent us off in our taxi very happy people. Beware, Buzzworks. Were I in the restaurant business, I'd be down trying to poach her services.

Money may make the world go round, but good neighbourhood restaurants make it a happier place.

Tom Eats! will be back in about a month


  1. Paul on 1st September 2023 at 9:01 pm

    Maslow? The pyramid of human needs. Oh my word I have never seen or heard that in a restaurant critique.
    I have eaten at Herringbone a couple of times because friends live near there. It’s Ok but never memorable.

    • Tom Johnston on 1st September 2023 at 10:36 pm

      I never know quite what may come to mind when review writing. It was patchy, and quite tricky to score, but the main courses were pretty good.

  2. Michael Greenlaw on 1st September 2023 at 9:53 pm

    Hi Tom, I agree with you 100% on the top three things which make a good dining experience – the eye contact and saying you are really busy only heightens the sense of anticipation – as does a relaxing pre dinner drink – then you are well and truly ready for the main event.

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