La Garrigue is a delightful French restaurant overlooking Waverly Station in the heart of Edinburgh. This unassuming bistro first opened in 2001 and quickly earned a reputation for serving delicious, rustic dishes with passion.
Named after the aromatic soft-leaved scrubland and forests of the Mediterranean basin, La Garrigue is a restaurant that stays true to its roots. Patron Jean-Michel Gauffre hails from the Languedoc area of France and is committed to showcasing the traditional cuisine of his native soil. He has also collected a large selection of wines from the “le Midi,” which perfectly complements the food.
Restaurant La Garrigue — Photo courtesy of La Garrigue
The exterior of the restaurant is painted a beautiful warm blue, with large picture windows and beautiful ironwork hanging baskets featuring plants from the Languedoc. A simple framed menu hangs beside the door to tempt passers-by, and delicious smells emanate from inside.
The interior has walls of simple white plaster and rich lavender paint. The walls are adorned by a series of original paintings of southern France by prodigiously talented Andrew Walker. There are also a number of regional flags and some painted crockery, adding to the charming rustic ambiance.
The restaurant is graced by some beautiful pieces by the furniture designer, wood sculptor and conservationist Time Stead. The soft warm tones, polished surfaces and undulating patterns of the wood fit perfectly with the simple yet delicious fare.
Jean-Michel Gauffre’s cuisine is refreshingly short of garlic foams, smears of sauce and fussy dressings. He produces high-quality regional dishes that are faithful to their traditional origins yet presented with style and an impressive artistic flair.
Dining in La Garrigue should never be a hurried affair. Start slowly with one of their delightful aperitifs - perhaps the heady embrace of Le Pomme de Normandy (apple juice blended with Calvados) or the effervescent Le Pousse Rapiere (Armagnac and sparkling wine). If not, they have a seductive selection of muscats, sherries and champagnes to wet your whistle.
Starters include such delights as perfectly formed tartlets of crisp pastry and delicately spiced crab, fresh mussels in a rich garlic sauce and delicious terrines. As well as the soup of the day, they serve a traditional fish soup with hints of garlic and saffron; it's at once comfortingly homey and luxuriously tasty.
The main menu features mouth-watering treats such as rabbit with green olive tapenade, rich stews of pork and duck, delicious seafood and the wonderful cassoulet. They also offer some sumptuous desserts. The crème brulee and chocolate fondant are worthy of note, but the real star of the show is the sweet hot soufflé of the day.
With such devotion to the production of authentic regional dishes, it should come as no surprise that the internationally renowned Scottish chef Gordon Ramsay named La Garrigue as his favorite French bistro. So why not seek out this shrine to traditional French cuisine and discover for yourself why it has become one of Edinburgh’s most beloved establishments?