It might not look like much from the exterior, but the old saying “never judge a book by its cover” is well placed here. Stepping away from the centre of Edinburgh, walk down to the historic quarter and harbour side of Leith to find Nobles.
Inside is full of dark polished panelling, wooden furniture and tiled flooring in the style of an old and elegant Victorian café, with high vaulted ceilings, large green plants and a long bar that dominates.
The harbour side location is also responsible for the rather quaint tall ship theme which provide most of the colour in many stained-glass windows dotted around the top half of the interior.
The staff are sweet and the menu is full of local Scottish ingredients, making it a great introduction for first-timers – and the inclusion of locals means it’s not all for show.
The full Scottish is made up of Stornoway black pudding, local butcher Findlay’s haggis, two rashers of bacon, cherry vine tomatoes and confit mushrooms, all for £10.50. You can add extras such as eggs or a tattie, but it’s certainly not a small portion in the first place.
There’s eggs a number of ways, from Florentine to Benedict, with their signature Nobles edition that uses black pudding too, ranging from £6.85 to £7.55.
But where it goes a little off-piste is with cullen skink (£7) – the traditional Scottish soup made with smoked haddock, potato and cream; the Shetland mussels (£12) that are steamed with a sauce du jour and served with bread and a veggie haggis and the beetroot burger (£11), making their menu a welcome change to just artisan and overpriced bacon and eggs.
Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday between 10am and 4pm. Take a paper from the bar and begin with a coffee and move on to something more exciting, whether it’s a craft beer or a brunch cocktail.
It’s a great place to be introduced to some classic Scottish dishes – in an unpretentious and full of locally sourced fare way – then walk it off wandering around the pretty harbour, where hopefully the sun is shining.
Nobles, 44a Constitution St, Leith, EH6 6RS; 0131 629 7215; email@example.com; new.noblesbarleith.co.uk
Smoked salmon croquettes with hollandaise
These creamy, smoky parcels of crunch and pillowy softness are great for a gathering at brunch, or as canapés to start your evening off. Breakfast like a king, they say...
Makes 18 croquettes
For the croquettes:
500 ml whole milk
2 bay leaves
10 black peppercorns
½ onion, peeled
1 tbsp olive oil
120g smoked salmon, neatly chopped
70g plain (all-purpose) flour, plus 4 tbsp for frying
pinch of sea salt
1 litre sun flower oil for frying
2 eggs, beaten
250g panko (breadcrumbs)
For the hollandaise sauce:
2 egg yolks
1 tsp white wine vinegar
pinch of salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
110g (33/4 oz) cold butter, cubed
For the croquettes, put the milk, bay leaves, peppercorns and onion into a saucepan and slowly bring it to the boil. Set aside for 1 hour to allow the flavours to infuse and the milk to cool. Strain the milk into a jug.
Melt the butter with the olive oil in a saucepan and then add the salmon. Cook for 3 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and stir in 70g (21/2 oz) of the flour and the salt. Beat for 5 minutes or until smooth. Slowly add the infused milk, 2-3 tablespoons at a time. Stir between each addition, continuing until the milk is fully incorporated. Cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thick and smooth.
Pour the sauce into a cold baking tray or dish, and set aside for about 30-45 minutes to cool and set. Use a dessertspoon to scoop up some set sauce and use a second dessertspoon to shape the sauce into a quenelle – an egg shape with tapered ends. Put the quenelle on to a lined tray and repeat with the rest of the sauce. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
For the hollandaise, fill a saucepan with just enough boiling water so that when you place a heatproof bowl on the pan, the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Place the saucepan over a high heat to keep the water simmering. Add the egg yolks, vinegar, salt and cayenne pepper to the bowl and whisk to combine. Slowly whisk in the butter, a cube at a time, until you have a lovely thick pale sauce. You can keep the sauce warm in the bowl over a low simmer until you’re ready to serve up your croquettes.
To fry the croquettes, heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat until a piece of bread dropped into the oil goes golden brown in 30 seconds. Meanwhile, pour the whisked eggs into a shallow bowl. Put the 4 tablespoons of flour on to a plate and the panko breadcrumbs on to a separate plate. Roll each croquette in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs, and set aside on some baking parchment.
Once you have breadcrumbed all the croquettes, carefully add them to the hot oil. Fry for about 4 minutes or until golden brown, then remove and drain on some pieces of kitchen towel. Serve with the hollandaise.
Breakfast: Morning, Noon, and Night by Fern Green (Hardie Grant, £18.99) Photography © Danielle WoodReuse content