What's the deal?
After his profile was raised considerably as a top-three finalist on 2018’s Masterchef: The Professionals, Dean Banks has slowly been taking over Scotland’s dining scene. First there was passion project Haar, a restaurant with rooms in collegiate St Andrews. Following on from that success, Banks moved into the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh’s fancy-shmancy Pompadour restaurant, which now bears his name and serves an upscale six-course tasting menu built around Scottish produce.
Now there’s Dulse – Banks’ latest, in Edinburgh’s West End. The chef is clearly going the Ramsay route, building out a small empire of restaurants that trade on the his name. Dulse’s marketing makes it known that Banks is at the helm, positioning it as the relaxed counterpoint to his other, more prohibitive Edinburgh address. But the thing that both restaurants – as well as Haar – have in common is a love of all things aquatic. Seafood is clearly an obsession of Banks’, given that all three of his restaurants are either fully or partially dedicated to Scotland’s bountiful underwater delights.
Dulse is where this seafood fetish finds its highest expression. The menu is entirely dedicated to the stuff: oysters fished in Cumbrae come with jalapeno and cucumber; mackerel is barbecued and smothered in harissa; hake is seared and topped with a kimchi hollandaise. There are oceanic motifs all over the dining rooms – stripey fish stencilled on the walls, seashell-shaped high stools lining the bar, lampshades dripping with netting. The upstairs dining room is the superior to the ground-level space, with an intimate vibe and floor-to-ceiling views of Edinburgh’s historic Queensferry Street.
The menu is divided into smaller and larger plates, all meant to share. There’s a light southeast Asia influence, but flavours are mostly drawn from everywhere and anywhere. Not everything comes off completely – flavours can sometimes feel a bit disjointed or random. But there are enough quality dishes here to make it a worthy visit, and the food is thoughtfully sourced and catch-fresh. Dulse is a good, safe pick for an extended family meal, or a spontaneous dinner when that oyster craving hits.
What should I eat?
The raw Orkney scallops – already bracingly fresh on their own – are sunnied up with an elderflower and strawberry reduction, then scattered with lipstick-red chunks of umeboshi plum.
Though technically seafood-free, the cheesy purple cauliflower is a surprise standout. It evokes all the warm and fuzzies of mac and cheese, with a crispy breaded top layer and a welcome unctuousness.
The menu’s Southeast Asian inflection comes to life in the langoustine dish – mini-lobsters bobbing in a cheery green pea and lemongrass soup.
Why should I go?
For a crowd-pleasing meal from Scotland’s next Ramsay.
17 Queensferry St, Edinburgh EH2 4QW