Having walked past the hard-to-miss blue exterior that is Maison Bleue on Edinburgh’s Victoria St many times before, I finally ventured inside on Saturday for an early afternoon drink. The style of their bar area is very Moroccan: full of coloured cubes, long wall hugging seats with huge cushions and a general relaxed feel with music to match. It was approaching 3pm when our polite and friendly server (a student at university in Edinburgh) offered Maison Bleue’s lunch-time and pre-theatre menu for our viewing. Two courses for just ¬£7.50 proved too tempting and, fortunately, the ensuing meal was totally without fault.
Up until 3pm and between 5pm and 6.30pm is when Maison Bleues special lunch-time and pre-theatre menu can be enjoyed. We moved through to the small adjacent dining room for our meal where we found a collection of weathered wooden tables intimately grouped together accompanied by high backed, jewel coloured dining chairs. A huge, ornate and opulent chandelier graced the room with a glow of light which was reflected back into the room from an antique-gold gilded mirror. The front of the restaurant has folding glass windows, that were opened allowing the coolness of the summer afternoon into the room. Mason Bleue has a second floor upstairs which is accessed by a beautiful iron stair case that was lighted in a blue/purple haze. The downstairs restaurant was comfortable and pleasant enough for our meal, so we didn’t investigate the upper level. Much care has been taken to decorate this intimate venue and the influences of Morocco and France are in evidence throughout It’s worth noting that the intimacy of the other tables mean you can overhear other tables conversations - this was fine for lunch, but may get annoying in the evening.
The menu offered up a good handful of starters and likewise with the mains. For our starters we had the Greek salad and a spicy sausage kebab dish. The Greek salad was stunningly presented but with green olives instead of the traditional black, which was much tastier. The spicy sausage was served on a wooden kebab sticks with a small salad and creamy mint sauce. Perfectly spiced sausages and a fair sized portion - although more mint sauce would have been welcomed.
To follow, I had the beef casserole. The waitress had suggested a side order or fried potato cubes for an additional ¬£1.50, which I duly ordered. The beef was lovely and tender with just the right amount of gravy which was neither too thick, nor too thin. Although it would seem an odd choice to eat in the middle of summer, it wasn’t heavy or stodgy as one would imagine. This can, in part, be attributed to the portion size. Typical of a pre-theatre menu meant the size was a little smaller than you would be served at an evening meal, but for the price and the occasion it was just the right amount. The potatoes easily made up for any shortfall, as did the free bread on offer. My dining partner opted for the pork chop on a bed of mashed potato with a lovely gravy sauce. The pork was perfectly cooked and the mash gorgeously creamy. The mash and pork made a great combination and it really was a dish to savor. Again, not a traditional summer plate: but it wasn’t in any way overly heavy.
We skipped the offer of dessert as we’d have never managed the walk home. The final bill came to ¬£16.50 for both of our food and we spent a further ¬£13 on drink (that bought two glasses of wine and 2 bottles of Kronenberg lager). I left Maison Bleue a happy and satisfied person. For ¬£7.50 the menu had provided tasty, quality food whose portion size was more than adequate. We had a quick look at their dinner menu, which is a big jump in price from the lunch menu. However the French/North African offerings looked totally appealing and if Maison Bleue can build on the quality of their lunch offerings in the evening, it should be an excellent venue for dinner.
However on the basis of my visit, I have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending Edinburgh’s Maison Bleue for a pleasant, thoroughly decent and great value lunch. The service was also excellent throughout.