We swept into the West End on one of those bright, crisp evenings where everything looks that little bit more impressive – the imposing brick terraces, meandering lanes, pockets of park land, familiar landmarks. Even the slapdash parking on Hyndland Road seemed more charming. Then ascent up a winding staircase at Cottiers to discover Leiper’s Attic restaurant, a new addition to the popular theatre and wedding venue, slotted into the converted church.
It’s an idiosyncratic room, distinctive, edging towards formal but with a hint of fun. Space for around 60 people in a long thin room. We’re told that William Leiper was the name of the original architect for the building, hence the name.
Wild fish, game and beef dominate the menu and there are dry-aging cabinets for the meat near the kitchen to give you a clear view of what may be in store for you. Also, take note that they have a wide selection of gins, served in those fashionable goldfish bowl glasses, if you care for a drink before dinner.
Speaking about fashions, who started the trend for serving bread as a loaf with a knife placed within it? This has happened to us twice in a month. In fact, we are becoming more skilled at slicing as a result and can now remove a chunk without scattering crumbs across the table. Worth the effort, the bread was excellent.
Starters: Hand dived scallops with lemon, baby capers and sea herbs (£12). A waiter will arrive to spray a mist of Bowmore whisky over your plate if you let him, which is one part bewildering, one part intriguing. Scallops are small but can’t fault the preparations.
Duck leg and potato cannelloni, peach, sorrel, pumpkin (£10). Presentation wasn’t as imagined but there was a lot going on in this dish, multi-layered and ultimately very satisfying.
A bit of a wait for our main courses, but it was only their second night. Besides, this is the kind of place where you go for conversation between dishes and let the night take its course.
Steaks are served with one side and one sauce. A fillet steak (230g) is £30, a sirloin (300g) is £28.50 and the cote de boeuf (600g) is £40. Beef is going to be their signature dish here, dry aged, cooked with a degree of skill, it’s a joy to behold. When the meat is this good it doesn’t need much adornment or other flourishes.
Elsewhere on the menu, the roasted venison loin with butternut squash, kale, celery, wild mushrooms, honey and five spice sauce for £23.50 is an ideal dish for autumn.
For dessert, try the dark chocolate ganache with blackberry purée and sorbet, chocolate soil, toasted hazelnut tuille (£6.50).
There’s a few rough edges to smooth off but they’ve made a good start. Leiper’s Attic are well positioned to achieve their aim to showcase the best of Scottish produce.