Restaurant review

Barry Fish, Edinburgh, restaurant reviewer

Festivals and gastronomy do not really mix. For years, the fodder available in fields across the country during the peak summer festival period could be indistinguishable – hamburgers, hot dogs and enough fries to shake a glow stick.

I’m old enough to remember when T in the Park in Balado got fancy with the addition of their Healthy T food court, which offered a range of food and treats from more artisan producers.

At the time, these were relatively unknown and certainly not as common as they are now.

Nowadays, festival food has improved dramatically and caters to different dietary needs – fries even come with toppings other than cheese or curry sauce.

So it’s hardly surprising that Edinburgh celebrity chef Barry Bryson and his pop-up Barry Fish were on the program for this year’s Connect Festival at the Royal Highland Center Showground.

Speaking ahead of the festival, Bryson said, “I’m really excited to be partnering with Connect Festival.

“My business may have evolved over the years, but it’s always been in collaboration with the arts and as a music lover, it’s a really exciting partnership.

“Barry Fish is a new brand for me and so it’s an exciting opportunity to work with Connect, which has such a big identity and audience. Clients can expect the focus to be on the flavor, season and locality of good products.”

Barry Fish has been operating as a pop-up in Leith since August 4, with a five-course menu that celebrates (you guessed it) the best in Scottish seafood.

Using his local supplier, Welch Fishmongers of Edinburgh, Bryson spent the early summer developing dishes.

Speaking to The Scotsman earlier this year, he said: “I’m also planning a strong mix of modern dishes with traditional ones, so a mix of my own tastes and styles. The fourth fish course will be the link that will come full circle”.

It’s a version of this that was offered in a Scandi-style building inside Connect’s VIP area on Saturday August 27 and Sunday August 28.

I was looking forward to really “elevating” my festival experience by enjoying this lunch, which started with a glass of cool, crisp prosecco – made all the more enjoyable by the warm, sunny weather outside.

The meal started with smoked sea trout with applesOyster mayonnaise, wild salad and pickled radish.

The piece of bright pink trout was surrounded by circles of mayonnaise and sprinkled with radishes and garnished with salad leaves – each piece of the dish as shiny as jewels.

The delicately smoked fish was plump and fresh, with the mayo – complete with the whole oyster – the added richness and the pickled, tangy radishes.

The dish that followed was sea ​​bass with a dahl of black lentils, and a highlight for me.

A piece of crispy sea bass was laid on an oozing bed of lentil dahl and topped with whole toasted almonds. The fish was light, soft but juxtaposed with the crispy skin and melted into the comforting lightly spiced dahl.

The almonds added texture and sweetness that complemented the warming creaminess of the curry.

While these dishes on their own were satisfying, we had another savory dish before dessert – a fish cake served with a classic white butter sauce.

The epic sized fishcake arrived surrounded by a golden lake of butter sauce and topped with fried capers.

Looking a bit like a giant kyiv of old, this dish was wonderfully more indulgent despite everyone at the table being full.

Crispy cake batter gave way to flaked salmon and potato filling, which mopped up the creamy, rich lemon-cut sauce.

Barry Fish

The capers gave a sharpness that went well with the sauce. It was an absolute delight, despite its size.

Then dessert, which was a seasonal display of Scottish strawberriesbut not as you may know them.

Bryson spiced them up with Sichuan spices and served them with a dome of milk chocolate mousse sprinkled with cocoa and fresh cream.

The result was a sweet, but not overwhelming, blend of fresh fruit, spice and well-balanced creaminess. Those who find the Szechuan too numbing need not worry as it was present but not too much.

We left full and sustained and ready for an afternoon and evening of live music in the sun, with no cravings for fries – whatever toppings were on offer.

Tickets for this meal were just £59 plus a booking fee. It was £71 plus reservation charge for the meal and a glass of wine. Food plus a specially selected bottle of wine was 99 + booking fee.

Barry Fish will continue at Swanfield in Leith. To book email [email protected] or visit Cater Edinburgh website.