On the first bitingly cold night of the year we arrive at Heron and take a table by the window, shivering out of winter coats.            

Tomás Gormley and Sam Yorke’s restaurant has been open a year or so but has remained under the radar with no splashy launches or fuss, just two head chefs quietly changing the fine dining scene in Leith. The pair have cooked their way around Edinburgh’s best kitchens and ran Bad Seeds, a fine dining delivery service, during the pandemic before launching Heron. My visit is well overdue.

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We settle in with a pre-dinner cocktail from the enticing list. My Negroni has a huge craggy ice cube and a perfect orange curl, it’s strong, complex, and deeply aromatic. My partner’s Manhattan comes in a thin crystal flute with a little bottle to refill. It feels like an apothecary’s prescription, which is exactly what we need at the end of a long week.

Heron are famed for their bar snacks –every time I walk past I mentally order some. Now I’m finally here to try everything: we’re going all in with the intriguing sounding tasting menu, happy relinquishing control to the chef and sommelier.

Our first course ‘crab, crabapple, apple’ is fun to say and very fun to eat: a thin crisp pastry shell filled with delicate sweet white crab, a piquant crab apple and tarragon gel, matchsticks of apple and pretty edible flowers. With it, a smooth and deeply savoury brown crab butter and Company Bakery sourdough.

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The twinkling lights of The Shore make a great backdrop to this cool, serene restaurant. Think simple wooden furniture, woven light fittings, whites and blues.

Our paired wines start with the next dish – mirin cured mackerel, homemade ponzu, crispy trout skin (better than crisps) and a fig leaf oil. Strong flavours are well matched with a Portugeuse Arinto. In some restaurants, wine introductions are rushed, a quick dispatch of growers and grapes that can either leave your head spinning or be instantly forgotten.

Not so at Heron. We’re encouraged to taste each wine as it’s explained, ask questions, and discuss wines we like. A lot of thought and creativity has gone into the pairing and I actually feel like I’ve learned something – as well as, crucially, tried some gorgeous wines.

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The next course is essentially cheese and onion, perhaps associated more with uninspired quiche than fine dining, but this reimagination of the classic combination is anything but dull. A red onion has been slowly cooked until tender while keeping its shape then topped with both crispy and pickled onions, in a pool of cheese sauce.  On the side a play on a cheese scone with a melted cheese centre and a flurry of grated cheese on top. It sounds like cheese overkill, but somehow it isn’t.

With it we try perhaps my favourite wine of the evening – a Spanish Lapola, oily and floral with an intense minerality.

I’ve taken the pescatarian route so have two fish courses. A beautiful piece of cod arrives with earthy cep mushrooms, a Hokkaido pumpkin puree, kale and a mushroom jus. To me it’s autumn on a plate: mushrooms and squash, and the dark brassicas contrasting with the lighter freshness of the cod.

Monkfish is paired with Free Company vegetables and a watercress veloute, a simple but lovely dish. The monkfish is cooked on the bone and then filleted giving a deeper richer flavour, offset with the vibrant  watercress. We’re greedy so add cheese and share a foamy pillow of creamy Tunworth with fig chutney hidden beneath, and thin crisp sourdough toast for dunking and scooping.

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Pre-dessert (that wonderful course you’d never have at home) is a verdant cucumber and coriander sorbet. It’s zingy and refreshing. The grand finale is a beautiful burnished soft meringue, concealing rosemary ice cream and a frangipane base, around it a pool of tart bramble coulis with brambles tumbled over the top.

This is clever considered cooking, local seasonal ingredients prepared with flair and imagination, top-notch service – a wonderful addition to the Edinburgh dining scene.

Heron, 87-91a Henderson Street, Leith, EH6 6ED