Tell anyone in the vicinity that you're going for lunch at La Potiniere and you'll be met with a variety of gasps. How long ago did you have to book? Wow, lucky you! Gosh, that'll be pricey... The exclamations are numerous, the reality a delicious meal in a lovely environment, a worthy award-winning restaurant where you can get excellent French cooking in a cozy atmosphere.
La Potiniere lies on Guillane's Main Street, less than 20 miles outside Edinburgh, and is a small restaurant with a big name.
The restaurant used to have a Michelin star, and its food quality suggests that the change of ownership is just a minor blip on the way to another one. Owner-chefs Keith Marley and Mary Runciman not only cook a wonderful meal, but Keith also serves and clears himself, making the small restaurant feel even more intimate. Their clear camaraderie with the more regular diners we encountered was pleasingly palpable. This may be a high quality restaurant, but it doesn't come at the cost of being stand-offish about its excellence.
The menu is set, with two options for each course, but that is plenty. Inside the cover the local suppliers are credited, and there's something satisfying about knowing you two could go and get the basics of the meal afterwards.
Before you are served, you're offered a pre-prandial drink which includes a great range of non-alcoholic beers and wines for those driving, and homemade smoothies. There's no problem about sticking to tap water though.
The wine list is, in general, extensive. There is plenty of choice across the colours and regions. Many wines are available by the glass or bottle, ready to suit every taste and need. There is also a separate list of half bottles, perfect for a couple wanting to share some without overdoing it.
Homemade bread is brought round, warm in the basket. Cheese and cumin, pungent and delicious, or sultana and fennel, dark and rich, were the two offered to us. Taking both was not an issue, indeed was actively offered, and fresh supplies were brought out later. One wouldn't want to fill up on bread, but it is very good. Hot fresh bread and good butter is hard to beat.
Cheese and cumin bread, with sultana and fennel underneath
The starters were roast pepper mousse and leek soup. We could hear the virtues of the soup extolled across the room, but stuck to the mousse. Presented well, with a rich flavour and accompanied by an excellent salad, this complemented the breads well.
For main course the options were chicken or salmon. Again, the chicken looked good, but seafood on the coast is not to be missed. Two different salmons were served. Both were excellent, well cooked with a delicately crispy skin, but the smoked salmon deserves special mention. Dark pink and deliciously intense, it really stood out. Sweet potato mash went well, and was generously served along with the greens, and mussels in sauce (mussels optional).
The desserts were lemon yoghurt charlotte or warm banana tart. Both were excellent, served with local apple or coconut sorbet respectively. Cheese is available for a supplementary charge, but the desserts are worth trying.
Over coffee (good quality cafetiere coffee), homemade petit fours are served. The tablet was a perfect balance of crumbly and soft, a great sugar hit to balance bitter coffee. Dark chocolate with craisin and pistachios was also a hit. The malted meringue was a little stickier and overpowering than we would have liked, but still disappeared in a flash.
While French food is their speciality, they also run popular Thai nights. These definitely need booking well in advance. For dinners, you are also advised to book well ahead, but lunch may be achievable on shorter notice. Overall costs start at £20.50 for a two course lunch, but even a three course lunch with wine would only come to £30-£35. Dinner is more expensive.
The website gives sample menus to let you know the kind of food on offer, but obviously choices will vary by season and availability. There is adequate parking for all patrons. The restaurant is easily accessible.