Comfort food is generally what we turn to as the weather starts to get colder. It's just starting to reach that stage in Scotland - there are more scarves being worn, it's getting dark by 5pm and the clocks will be turning back this weekend. The idea of warm and hearty food becomes exponentially more appealing and it's perfect timing for it to be the October theme for Edinburgh Food Geeks*. Drawn to the place by name alone, we arrived at Mum's Great Comfort Food. This diner specialises in uncomplicated, unashamedly retro British comfort food, the kind of food you'd imagine mums from the Good Old Days to make for your weekly visit home.
When we arrive at about 6:30 it's clear that others have the same idea and the diner is nearly full. The staff are super cheery though and a table is freshly wiped down for us to sit down straight away. It's a cosy place with big leather booths and is big enough to seat about 40 (at a guess).
Perusing the menu, it's clear this will be a carb-avoider's nightmare. Serving comfort food classics such as macaroni cheese, bangers and mash, pies and roasted chicken, there is nary a salad to be seen - it's time to move a belt notch over and revel in the stodgy.
In a previous life, Mum's Diner was Monster Mash and it remains true to its roots, serving a selection of sausages which change daily and a frankly huge selection of mash - 16 varieties to be exact. I'm not sure how popular the black pudding and apple mash is with folk but other flavours such caramelised leek and bacon or chipotle and cheese sound far more appealing.
There are a variety of pies, served with chips and vegetables (£7.50) and a decent range of 'gourmet' burgers, with specials of Kobe Beef burger (£12.95) and a venison cranberry burger (£9.95). Other menu highlights include Melty Mushroom Wellington (with spinach and cheese, served with chips for £6.50) and roast chicken breast with skirlie and mash (£8.25).
I decided to order the steak and ale stew with dumplings, served with a pile of cheese and onion mash and vegetables (£7.75). This promised to be slow braised beef with carrots, onions, mushrooms and turnip in St Giles Ale. There was a lovely deep flavour from the ale and generous chunks of steak, slow-cooked to softness and the herby dumplings were soaked in the stew, but were surprisingly light and fluffy. It was a simple and hearty dish, with a very large portion of mash, carrots, cauliflower and broccoli. The cheese and onion mash was a great flavour combination with the stew and was well-textured and fluffy.
Sausage and mash is always going to be a popular choice and my dining companion ordered the pork and leek and the beef and horseradish along with a mountain of champ mash and caramelised onion gravy (2 sausages and mash for £6.95, 3 for £8.25). All of Mums' sausages are from O'Hagans, apparently the first specialist sausage maker in the world. There is always the Plain Porker type available and the daily specials, both meat and vegetarian, are displayed on their blackboard. The dish was pretty close to their promotional photo used up top - a traditonal 'Beano' style nosh-up, with bangers artfully sticking out of a huge pile o' mash, and then covered in gravy. Again, the mash was well flavoured and moist and the sausages were declared 'tasty' inbetween chomps; it's only a shame a local sausage supplier isn't used.
A good selection of wines and Scottish beers and cider is available (BrewDog, Black Isle, Thistly Cross and Stewart Brewing). There are also a number of yummy sounding milkshakes (including both ice cream and alcoholic) and I was ever so tempted to order a cherry milkshake but decide to keep it retro with a ginger beer.
My dining companion was happy to desist from dessert, but even a mammoth main is no deterrent for me - no comfort eating meal would be complete without ending on something sweet. All puddings are decently priced at £3.95 and include Eton mess, caramelised banana split and a rather odd sounding fruit ripple ice cream served with fresh mini donuts (perhaps a little bit too far on the simplistic side?). I decided to try their treacle and date pudding after reading Mums' description as possibly being the greatest dessert in the world. Served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream it was a lip-smackingly sticky sweet version of the traditional pudding, but best dessert in the world? Not so much. Considering the large sizes of the mains it was a relatively small wedge portion and there wasn't quite enough of the sauce. Also the presentation was certainly lacking, as though it had just been hurriedly thrown onto the plate. Obviously this is somewhat overly critical for a diner dessert, but, if they will claim it to be the best in the world, it should come under a certain level of scrutiny! They did claim it would be 'yummy delicious' though and it was that - which was good enough for me.
Mums is the perfect place to visit if you're in the mood for some hearty comfort food in a cute retro setting. Their menu has some inventive touches to keep things interested, but on the whole it's wholesome uncomplicated nostalgia.
* We were inspired to visit by the Edinburgh Total Food Geeks theme of Finding Comfort. What is this Edinburgh Total Food Geeks I speak of? A group of Edinburgh-based bloggers who love food and geek out over pretty much all aspects of it. We have a monthly theme where we try to write about our chosen subject in whichever way we choose. It's fun and social and inspiring and hopefully it'll help to highlight Edinburgh businesses. My post is linked here.
4a Forrest Road
Tel: 0131 260 9806
No bookings taken during the Festival