La Petite Mort is relaxed yet decadent both in décor and food. As I near the restaurant on a chilly, drizzly, October lunchtime, I’m drawn by the theatrical flickering of candelabra in the window, heavy velvet curtains, dark interior and dramatic art. This element of the style seems particularly appropriate given that it’s but a stone’s throw from the Kings Theatre. Meanwhile, mismatched chairs, a bookcase of interesting decorative objects and friendly service are in keeping with the local culinary landscape – bordering on Tollcross, Bruntsfield and the edge of Marchmont, it has a strong customer catchment area, but also strong competition from other chic eateries.
My first course was undoubtedly the highlight: a steaming hot bowl of mussels and samphire (an on trend native sea vegetable), bathed in coriander and coconut, just enough green chilli to give a kick without losing any of the delicate flavours and chunky slices of artisan bread. Utterly divine. I felt it may be excessive (on the mussel front) to opt for my first choice of main – the mixed seafood bouillabaisse, so instead I chose a truffled cauliflower and courgette risotto with roast butternut squash and garden peas. All the vegetables are blended in with the rice, so every mouthful brings the same experience. While tasty and filling, it was certainly less exciting than my starter and slightly too heavy for my liking, perhaps not helped by my choice of three very creamy courses. By now I was contentedly full, but managed to squeeze room for a delightful toffee apple crème brulée. I savoured the satisfying moment of the ice-like crack, as I whacked my spoon on its top to reveal the delectable creaminess lying below the surface, the sugary sweetness contrasting with tart blackberries, fresh apple and crisp pieces of honeycomb on the side. I didn’t need to eat again for the rest of the day.
Head chef Neil Connor’s rich menu features locally sourced produce at £11.95 for a two course lunch and £13.95 for a three course lunch, available seven days a week. Given the quality of cuisine and experience, this is really good value. I thoroughly enjoyed the easy Sunday afternoonatmosphere of the restaurant and attention to detail (the tap water was fragrantly infused with lemon, lime and mint and the humble cuppa is actually Eteaket loose leaf tea), while its cozy intimacy makes it an ideal venue for a romantic dinner or special occasion. The dinner and cocktail options look delicious and La Petite Mort is certainly a restaurant to which I’ll be returning.