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Colinton, City Of Edinburgh
01314 417427
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Dinner At Dante's Italian Restaurant In Colinton, Edinburgh


Published On Tuesday 2 Jul 2024 by Sticky Beak
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No-one can accuse The Man Bird of letting the grass grow under his feet when it comes to his day job (getting him to vacuum round is a different matter!); from Kendal, it was onwards to Edinburgh – a journey of about 150 miles! We’d booked in to a guest house in Colinton, Spylaw Bank House, and were greeted warmly by the owner, David. The house dates from the 17th century and is seriously beautiful with its sweeping staircase and high ceilings, and our room had the wow factor thanks to a solid wood, ’can just about get on to it without steps’ bed.



We settled ourselves in and washed off the day before heading out to our dining reservation that evening, Dantes Italian. Still family run, this venue has been a labour of love for husband and wife team, Dante and Nancy Margiotta; originally a sweet shop, it became a food restaurant in 1997 and has become a firm favourite since then.



The restaurant was already buzzing when we rocked up at 7.15pm, and there was a diverse mix of diners in: couples, groups of friends, a family with young children, and a group celebrating a birthday. Sleek and stylish, as you might expect from the Italians, the decor is based around Caramel, Latte and Mocha shades complimented by a wooden herringbone-pattern floor and large, modern pendant lights. Seating is a mixture of booths and freestanding tables paired with either banquettes or mid-back chairs.

Our server got us sorted with some drinks: Aperol Spritz (£8) for me, and a pint of draught Peroni for Him Indoors; her colleague sorted us out with a jug of iced water for the table at the same time. Now, gluttonous as we both are, we realised that 3-course meals every evening for 5 nights was just not doable (especially when we’d be in the car for potentially hours on end), so we made the executive decision to have mains and dessert on this occasion.



I chose the Ragu Di Agnello (£15) for my main, and The Man went for Saltimbocca a La Romana (£17.50), choosing the roasted baby potatoes to go with it. Our guest house host, David, had told us that the dishes at Dantes are traditional, hearty affairs, so we stuck to the classics, pretty safe in the knowledge that they were going to be tasty. Turns out David is the man-in-the-know.



The Fettuccine pasta was cooked absolutely spot-on, with just the perfect bit of bite to it; the ragu was that sublime consistency that allows it to coat the pasta and not dribble off the cutlery and onto your clothing – always a bonus for a mucky-pup like me!  Before I tucked in, a lovely young man came and sprinkled over some freshly grated Parmesan for me. A combination of slow-cooked Lamb Shoulder, Red Wine and Chickpea, the Ragu was like Manna from Heaven on my palate, it really was. Luscious, rich-tasting liquid rolled over my tongue in waves and the meat instantly melted in the mouth; this was sweet, earthy and skilfully seasoned. Some things are just a pleasure to eat, and this was one of them; simple but utterly sublime.



His Nibs remarked that it had been quite a while since he’d eaten Veal, and this is often served as an escalope (thinly sliced) so as to further enhance the young meats’ tenderness. Complimenting the Beef’s sweetness was a rather marvellous Marsala sauce that danced on the taste buds; this sauce was thinner than my Ragu but, when the Potatoes were crushed up by The Man, this allowed the spuds to soak it up, making for a scrummy morsel. Fragrant Sage leaves and salty Prosciutto added more layers of flavour to this wonderful dish, and needless to say, none of it got left on the plate!



Normally, at a traditional Italian restaurant I would go for Tiramisu for dessert, so I can only think that being over the border had made me fashionably louche when it came to pudding choices, as I ordered Honey Panna Cotta (£7). His Nibs also went off-piste and plumped for the days’ special: Mixed Berry Semi-Freddo with Raspberry Coulis and mixed fresh Berries.



It wasn’t long before our server was bringing over the two bowls that housed our sweet treats, and we eagerly dug in! The knack with a semi-frozen dessert like The Mans’ is to not be too vigorous when mixing fruit or nuts (or whatever is being utilised) in to the cream mixture; this care results in an airy texture being retained, rather than a denser product. Swirls and ripples were proof that Chef had exercised his skill when producing this dessert and their flavour punctuated the pair of generous slices of creamy wondrousness superbly. A medley of sliced Strawberries, Raspberries and Blueberries added their sweetness, but it was the Raspberry Coulis that stole the show; both of us exclaimed in delight as the face-scrunching tartness hit our palates. This fruity minx had more bounce than Tigger in full-on festival mode!



My Panna Cotta hit the bulls-eye with its perfect consistency and balance of sweet, fragrant Honey and natural Yoghurts’ sour tinge. The dessert melted in my mouths’ warmth, lingering casually awhile, and the fresh Raspberries and Blueberries released their clear, bright flavours which nicely balanced the creamier element. I loved how the candied Oats crunched when I chewed them, and this bit of texture was very welcome from a sensory perspective. I think it safe to say that Dantes do blooming good desserts...well, actually, it’s more accurate to say that they do blooming good food!

Throughout our evening, nothing had been too much trouble for the team, and they kept checking that we were enjoying our food and if we needed more refreshment. Tables were swiftly cleared, wiped down and re-laid with cutlery, napkins and glasses; spotless is an apt description.

Hot Wings given to this Colinton gem; if we ever find ourselves back here, we’ll be ringing up to make a reservation! To book your table, ring 0131 441 7427 and visit the website www.dantesrestaurant.co.uk to browse the menu and see the opening times.


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