For those of you following us on Twitter, you know that last weekend I had the pleasure of travelling to Edinburgh for the first time. My first visit coincided with the Fringe festival, which meant twice as many people and very bad comedy/theater being acted out on the streets.
Regardless, I definitely want to go back, part of it has to do with the overall vibe of the city and part has to do with the fact that I would like to experience the city without the masses of tourists.
But now to the important part — the food. Before travelling up to Edinburgh, I asked a few friends, one of which had studies in Scotland for recommendations and the place that kept on cropping up was the Castle Terrace. Now while, I would love to provide you with a review of said restaurant, I was not fortunate enough to secure a reservation. Note to self, if you want to eat at a Michelin starred restaurant, you may want to think about making a reservation in advance and by this I mean a few days to a few weeks, not the evening before! (I think Terri may have something to teach me about forward planning)
So on Saturday we popped into a pub off the Royal Mile for lunch and needless to say mediocre food and a mediocre name meant that I recall neither venue nor what I ate. So let’s fast forward to the first of my pleasant dining experiences in Edinburgh. Saturday night, we had an early reservation for The Magnum since we have to dash to our second Fringe event (a rather boring comedy show). Now I typically do not dine at 6pm, so it was the first time that we were the first group to be sat down in the dining room. Luckily, we were not alone for long and by the time we ordered there were quite a few tables occupied creating a pleasant buzz.
Because The Magnum is what one would consider a gastropub, we were given the option to either pick from the bar menu or the dinner menu. Ah the choices, and yet, the one thing on the menu, but part of the lunch menu and not present elsewhere on the double-sided A4 piece of paper, the chicken liver pate, I could not order. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that lunch items are not always available for dinner, etc. However, if you are giving me one menu that has three menus on it — bar, lunch and dinner menu — you should expect your clientele to ask whether they could have the chicken liver pate. Considering that there is nothing to cook, surely it is a case of putting a slab on my plate. Alas, no I was told that was only for lunch and had to scramble to choose something else. I opted for the quail on top of a vegetable risotto, which was yummy but slightly one-dimensional in flavour. The risotto was the let down, now that I think of it, the rice was slightly too mushy for my liking and it had very few spring veggies in it. I wanted more green!
While we wrapped up our mains, and ordered a Scottish Cranachan cheesecake, we enjoyed a discussion about the panel event we attended that morning called “Can we trust the media?” We all agreed that the professor on the panel was quite a bore!
At this point is where the dining experience gets slightly downgraded. Our lovely waitress comes around and asks whether we would mind wrapping up as someone had booked the table and they would need to reset it. Now while I understand that there may have well been a table booked and that given our early dining time we could not expect them not to use the table again all evening. What peeved me was the fact that they failed to mention it at any point during our meal or even when making the booking, which meant that I felt like we were being pushed out. Mind you we would have probably left a few minutes later regardless of their request as we had a show to go to!
Food Atmosphere Service
After a night of comedy and a not-so scary ghost tour, we ended up chilling at our friend’s house until lunchtime on Sunday. As we pottered about a few of the shops near the Royal Mile, yep I did in fact go back for a cashmere scarf (how typically touristy of me), it started to rain so we literally decided to wait it out while having lunch and lucky for us we were standing outside of North Bridge Brasserie. The brasserie has a formal restaurant and a bar/cafe area, given it was lunch we opted for the latter. The place looks like a former bank or office building hall with high ceilings, a spiral staircase and the bar in the middle.
The food was delicious, my waiter recommended the steak sandwich and it was spot on. My friend being American inquired about the possibility of having a grilled cheese sandwich vs. the cheese and pickle sandwich on the menu. While our Eastern European waiter did not understand the concept, he was more than happy to ask the chef for it and the chef was happy to grill the sandwich for her. The rest of the menu included some salad options and a few more sandwiches, which mean the selection was not as varied as you may like to have, but if they were all on par with the steak sandwich it doesn’t really matter.
The only thing that let me down was the slow service (maybe, this is a trend in Edinburgh?). We had to ask for the menu twice when we sat, down for the bill a few times and well no one ever came by to ask if we were alright or needed anything else. Isn’t that customer service number one in a restaurant?
Food Atmosphere Service
Stay tuned for more from me,