1mm;- All white on the night

Something is going on under George IV Bridge in Edinburgh. Jonathan Trew goes underground to see the light.

Back in the bad old days ofthe British restaurant trade. candlelight could be put to more nefarious uses other than casting a romantic glow over an evening. While it caused your dining companion‘s eyes to sparkle and their smile to look all the more bewitching. it also made it difficult to distinguish what was on your plate and could hide the warts of a poorly prepared and presented meal. This isn‘t a problem for diners at the new Dial restaurant. Set in an arch that looks out onto Merchant Street. diners’ first impression ofThe Dial is the soft. clean whiteness of it all. The walls and the high vaulted ceiling are all whitewashed and illuminated with an intelligent use of spotlights and gentle floor lights. White Phillipe Starck designed chairs line the pine tables. Contrasting with this are the vibrant

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colours of a patchwork wall-hanging and the pale. translucent splashes of brightness that are the cutlery and condiment holders. Add on a stunningly crafted set of balustrades fashioned from a melange of frosted glass. metal. stone and sensuous burnished wood. and the overall effect produced is one of airy lightness.




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Starck contrasts: the soft, clean whltenoss oi the Dlal restaurant ls offset by John Whitehead's strlklng balustrada

All of which is more than a little surprising given that seven months ago the place had no gas. water or electricity. had been derelict for at least a decade and would have given the Addams family the heebie-jeebies. One major refit. revamp and refurbishment later along with the expenditure of much in the way of blood. sweat and tom-out hair Adrian Hanger. the main man in the venture. can gaze thankfully out over his subten'anean empire.

Hanger created The Dial with the help of Helen Evans who worked on the interior design and John Whitehead. the man responsible for the balustrade. Hanger had previously been involved in the development of the Maitland Hotel before deciding that being your own boss is best. Given a blank space to realise his ambitions with. Hanger aims to create a contemporary. slightly jazzy establishment. a cafe society restaurant for the 90s.

The menu was worked out by Hanger and a pair of collaborators by selecting a list of main ingredients and then concocting a family tree of complementary flavours. The result is a modern European menu that strives to draw on the classical traditions of the

“no. writs“

Continent‘s culinary lore and produce modern interpretations. Thus The Dial‘s rustic fish soup rubs fins with dishes such as wild mushroom posole with garlic croutons; traditional combinations like pigeon. bacon and lentils are given a fresh twist by incorporating them into a warm salad; and roast ribs of beef studded with garlic. madeira and shallot jus sit on the same menu as olive muffins topped with poached egg on continental leaves. On a pecuniary note. there is a two- course lunch at £8.95 while the evening menu contains starters at around £3—£4 with the main courses coming in between £7—£l l.

The only question remaining is what to drink with it all. The Dial has opted for an almost exclusively New World wine list with South Africa putting in a strong showing that is matched by South America’s contribution. None of the wines is over £l6 and the majority are in the £l()—£12 range. In the unlikely event ofthe vine failing to inspire. then there is an intriguing selection ofcocktails at £2.50 a glass and £10 ajug to slake your thirst with. The Dial. 44—46 George IV Bridge. Edinburgh, 225 7179.


so The List 6-19 Sept I996