One of those unending Scottish Summer nights…this one above is the Balmoral in Edinburgh, whose basement restaurant tempts us tonight.
We are soon offered some delicious nibbles, including the often present haggis bon bon (we had the same at Martin Wishart for example) but…what is this? In an otherwise tender and tasty loin of rabbit cylinder Man finds a bone, and a piece of shell will appear in an otherwise perfect amuse bouche of crab with gazpacho and iced melon.
These prep mistakes indicate that something is not settled in the kitchen, and a confirmation of this will come later, with an unusual delay between first and second course. A young Italian waiter comes to us and apologises, and when, curious, we ask him what the problem is he explains ‘You know, in Michelin starred restaurants like this one it is normal to apologise if a dish arrives late’. You don’t say.
Let us get done with a last complaint: a dish of scallops, while perfectly cooked felt a little ungenerous and somewhat uninspiring, compared to other fantastic scallop dishes we’ve had in Scotland.
Ok, with these minor faults out of the way, we can state the main character of the evening: it was a real feast of super-produce in classical, balanced, striking dishes.
A Nicoise of rabbit
graciously deconstructed many elements, including a very apt pungent anchovy.
The two mains, a lamb and a beef fillet, could only be commented with screams of pleasure.
The juses do not appear very smooth but they are really elegant and full of flavour, and the depth of the beef and the lamb is memorable. All other components in the dish (sweetbread,…) exhalt its core. Very classical, focussed, rather straightforwardly presented yet stylish cooking.
The dessert section deserves a special mention. There is a chef patissiere of talent here, because both a Baileys cream, coffee granite, caramelised nuts and chocolate croquant and Slow cooked cherries with goat cheese sorbet and fennel and honey mousse were very articulated, well thought out exemplars of the art and science of pastry making.
At the end of the meal the Sommelier (a really charming and professional fellow) comes pushing, with some effort, a giant trolley of dessert wines: ‘can I tempt you…’. ‘You can certainly tempt us, but we’ll not yield to the temptation’. And we retire in the bar area to sip our filter coffees (good) with very good petit fours to conclude a relaxed and very pleasant evening. And not even too heavy on your wallet considering the luxury surroundings: three courses at £62 is one the best values in the Michelin starred firmament in Edinburgh. If you enjoy classical French cuisine with a Scottish slant, definitely recommended.