Field is a small independent restaurant in the heart of Edinburgh that having only been open for just over a year is already in this year's Michelin guide. It's welcoming and cosy restaurant space invites you in to sample its delicious, affordable menu that celebrates local and seasonal produce.
I've been to the restaurant twice now and the lovely Rachel agreed to chat with me about having finally opened up their own restaurant after 3 years of looking for the right venue and how lucky they feel to have such loyal and enthusiastic customers.
Here are some of the questions I asked Rachel:
Let's start with the name of the restaurant- it's fun and simple - what was the idea behind it?
To be honest, it was quite a last minute thing. We knew the basic ideas we wanted it to represent but we lacked the branding. In the end, this was our favourite. We wanted it to show our ethos of fresh, seasonal and local food straight from the field to your table.
Why do you believe it is so important to cook with seasonal, local produce?
We believe it is important to support the new independent businesses around us as well as local suppliers, who in return have been highly supportive of our venture. Cooking with seasonal, local produce also helps to reduce our carbon footprint and allows us to be creative with our food yet maintain good value for money.
Do you think people are educated enough in eating seasonally?
Yes, I think so, especially after events such as the horse meat scandal last year, I think people are more aware of where their food comes from and what exactly goes into the meals they are eating. For example, we source our steak from a great farm in the Scottish borders and we often visit the farm to be as involved in the process as we can be.
Would you think about putting this information about the source of your products alongside the relevant dishes on your menu?
It's something we've thought about but we don't want to bombard people with too much information. We'd like to think we are approachable and if somebody wants to know where their food is from, we can tell them everything they'd like to know.
What are your favourite dishes?
My personal favourite is the hake with ratatouille and chunky chips. As a starter, the chefs have also started smoking duck in the kitchen with applewood which adds a mild but distinctive flavour and a beautiful texture to the meat, served alongside a spicy pineapple relish and freshly made potato crisps.
I love all puddings, so that is a tough one! I can't pick my favourite but we sometimes have a spectacular dessert special such as our rocky road baked alaska!
Your food is very creative and playful. Do you all work together in producing the menus? How often are they changed?
Gordon and Byron in the kitchen are really passionate about what they do. They like to do things a little differently, it's just something that comes really naturally to them and they're always in there cooking up new ideas for dishes. I can't ever see them getting bored, it's got to be exciting and a challenge for them too!
Our menu changes in line with what fresh produce is available in the local markets for example with our lunch and pre-theatre menu we often have our fish of the day dish dependent on the catch available that day. We also don't like bored chefs- we want to keep them interested in the food they are cooking!
Do you think it is important to fight against the stereotype of Scottish food as meat and stodgy carbohydrates?
Yes, I think Scotland has so much to offer. Gordon can do things with these local ingredients that don't have to be stodgy and full of fat but can be made lighter and exciting. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be made very comforting for winter or light and fresh for summer. Our chef likes to add a twist on the traditional Scottish cuisine for example our current chicken dish is based on the Scottish haggis, neeps and tatties reconstructed through a turnip dauphionise and crispy haggis ball in a completely different style.
What have been the main challenges in setting up your own restaurant?
To be honest, we've been really really fortunate. We've had so much support from local people coming back to the restaurant instead of going somewhere else the next week, continually supporting and helping us out.We've had a really easy journey so far and there hasn't been anything yet!
You've been open a year now and have been mentioned in this year's 2014 Michelin guide! You must be thrilled?
It's one of these things you day-dream of. It was a lunch time and I was downstairs and I thought, I'll just have a wee look to see who's in it, and when I saw we were there it was a bit of a shock- it took a couple of days to sink in! It was really amazing and the guys in the kitchen did brilliantly to get that - we've got our red sticker in the window now!
Where are some of your other favourite foodie hot spots in the city?
We've been going to The Dogs a lot recently which we love. Another one which isn't in Edinburgh is The Wee Restaurant over in North Queensferry. We went to a wine tasting there the other day which we really enjoyed.
What do you like about being based in Edinburgh?
It's just a really great city. There is so much on your doorstop in Edinburgh and the people here really embrace it. The city is very neighbourly and it's lovely to see people who have come in from a recommendation from their neighbour or friend. I think this area especially has a lovely community feel.
There are so many restaurants here in Edinburgh- do you think this is a problem for new start-ups?
Yeah it is, There's just so many restaurants in Edinburgh. There's so much choice and so much competition everywhere- people could chose to go somewhere different every night of the week if they wanted to so I think it's really really important for new businesses to look after their customers. That's what this is about, giving customers a good experience. We hope to stand out with the combination of the value and the creativity of our food. Each restaurant has their own place in the city, but this is what we are trying to do.
Do you have plans to expand in the future? What can we expect for the rest of this year?
I think the building has a lot to do with the atmosphere here. We opened with a very limited budget and have slowly been making little changes as we go along. As it is at the moment, we think it works quite well as a small place. If we were to move somewhere bigger, say a 100-seater, it would loose its atmosphere and appeal. It took about 3 years before we got this place but when this place came up it was perfect as it's such a brilliant location. It's been quite a crazy year to be honest but it's been great - there's never a low moment.
In November, we did a wine testing dinner that was really nice. One of our wine suppliers had been to visit lots of wine makers and so we did a whole evening of 5 or 6 course matching wine and food. We also did a big dinner for Hogmanay which we really enjoyed.
The times I've been to Field, I've been welcomed with a friendly and excellent service. The menu is different, creative and extremely good value for money.
Although quite a small space, it is lovely and bright and you don't feel packed in. As it is small and the kitchen quite near to the dining room, it did get a little smoky at times but you could also smell the delicious aromas of the food and you felt like it was a personal, cosy dining experience.
They serve you fresh homemade bread rolls straight from the hot oven- I sampled their sun-dried tomato and sesame seed roll which was delicious.
Field is one of Edinburgh's little foodie gems and certainly one to watch! With a very reasonably priced menu, it makes a great setting for a lunch out with friends or a special occasion dinner.
They are now open Tuesday to Sunday serving lunch and dinner.
Check out their website here. Booking advisable.
Lunch and Pre-Theatre: available between 12-2pm and 5.30-6.45pm
1 course £8.95, 2 courses £11.95, 3 course £14.95