Review: Central Market, Merchant City
Given my penchant for a cocktail in the Merchant City, it was always surprising to me that I hadn’t ever ventured into Central Market on Bell Street. Particularly given it won 2013’s most stylish restaurant at the Scottish Style Awards and was more recently entered into the prestigious Waitrose Good Food Guide for 2014. But a few Saturday’s ago that changed when I stumbled in there for lunch with a couple of extremely reliable drinking buddies.
Which leads me on to my first observation of Central Market. They are accommodating. Some pre-lunch drinks caused us to not only move the booking at the last minute by an hour but to also turn up with an extra body in tow. None of which was a problem for this trendy yet laid back establishment. However, said pre-dinner drinks did mean that once we got there we were slightly more interested in the wine list than the food and chose just to opt for nibbles and main courses as opposed to a full on three course affair.
Drinks and menus arrived promptly to our table. Bread, olives and a tasty tapanede all took the edge off our hunger while we waited on our food. As did an easy drinking and perfectly dry bottle of prosecco. Two of us opted for the hanger steak and fries, one with chimichurri, the other with Bearnaise, whilst our third companion chose the spatchcock poussin with assorted root vegetables.
The steak came sliced and pink, which is always a pleasant surprise to me with a cut of meat that is all to often served overdone. It was tender and full of flavour and I am not ashamed to admit that I finished every last bite. The fries were perfectly fast in that they tasted exactly like French fries should i.e. just like the ones from those better known fast food burger establishments. Perfectly crisp, hot and salty I was almost tempted to cross over my chip allegiance, however deep down I am still a proper chip girl at heart. The Bernaise was average. Not outstanding, possibly could have been seasoned slightly better but nothing to complain about. The chimichurri on the other hand was sharp, spicy and a delight on the tongue. With all the freshness of a really good Salsa Verde I could have easily eaten at least another 3 ramekins with my steak and would definitely recommend this as the side to go with if you also opt for the caveman option on your visit.
Unfortunately, too many of those fries meant I didn’t actually get a chance to taste the Poussin but I am told the chicken was moist, full of flavour and delicious. While the meal didn’t wow me in the sense that I will be rushing back the next opportunity I get, I did feel that the food was more than good enough to wet my appetite and encourage me to investigate further. I feel a return visit is necessary in order to try out the brisket starter I have been hearing so many good things about and as they seem to do red meat so well, it is only necessary that their steak tartare be sampled by my slightly more sober palette at some point in the not too distant future too.