With much trepidation I returned to 8b Abercromby Place, the former location of Edinburgh’s Bellini restaurant. The blog visited Bellini in May 2009 and endured one of the most torrid meals in our history. Shortly afterwards Bellini closed. Elsewhere in Edinburgh, Karen’s Unicorn was on the ascendancy; with their Chinese restaurant on Stockbridge’s St Stephen St gaining a healthy customer base and a healthy reputation. It was perhaps inevitable Karen’s Unicorn would attempt to capitalise on their success; hence their second restaurant in the large New Town premises vacated by Bellini.
It’s amazing what a coat of paint, new dining room furniture and opening up the windows to let some light in can bring to a restaurant; though quite what a plasma television showing a slideshow of Chinese food is doing mounted on the wall is anyone’s guess. On the Wednesday we visited the restaurant was, like when we visited it as Bellini, still eerily quiet. However, the warm welcome and friendly service we received were leagues ahead of its predecessor. It has been a while since any service offered such unrelenting politeness.
The complementary prawn crackers were a gentle, but welcome, introduction to eating in these surroundings again. Karen’s Unicorn offer a two course lunch for Â£8.95, or three for Â£9.95. For starters we both had a large portion of finely prepared chicken and sweetcorn soup. Mains were equally impressive - all presented attractively on a single plate with a delicious mound of egg fried rice. My main of pork in black bean sauce was high quality ingredients, in a perfect sauce. The kitchen at Karen’s Unicorn absolutely nailed the crispy shredded beef with chilli sauce - sticky, crunchy and a fine choice to brighten a lunchtime away from the office.
Takeaway Chinese food, banquet menus and a wide selection of fish dishes complete the offerings at Karen’s Unicorn. Judging by our lunch visit the good reputation this relative newcomer to Edinburgh’s Chinese dining scene has gained, is well deserved. The unpopularity of the Abercromby premises when trading as Bellini and the sheer size of the dining room suggest success at Abercromby Place may not come as easy as St Stephen St. However, if the high standards of service are maintained and the food we received for lunch is an indication of the grander offerings at Karen’s Unicorn the restaurant has every chance of success.
Karen’s Unicorn ‘number two’ is located at 8b Abercromby Place, Edinburgh.
Telephone: 0131 476 2602
The original Karen’s Unicorn is located at 112 St Stephen St, Edinburgh, EH3 5AD
Telephone: 0131 2206659