22nd May 2017 6.15pm
I had been wanting to visit Contini for quite some time and a voucher from Itison allowed us to finally experience this place. Situated on George Street, Contini forms part of the Contini chain which includes Cannonball and the Scottish Café and Restaurant at the Scottish National Gallery. Our voucher included two starters, two mains, a side dish and two Venus Prosecco cocktails.
We were greeted warmly by staff, in the lofty, ornate venue, and taken to our table. When we took our seats, there were menus already on the table, so we got looking, only to be told that we were actually ordering from a different menu (which wasn’t stipulated on the voucher). They were still items from the normal al a carte menu but there was a much reduced choice which was a bit of a shame. We were given our cocktails – although the prosecco meant I couldn’t drink it but I had graciously forgone my non-alcoholic alternative so my friend could drink them both! The prosecco also had strawberry in it with lots of lavender scattered across the top, along with a flower. My friend found the lavender pieces a bit annoying whilst trying to drink the cocktail but overall enjoyed the flavour. We also got our food ordered – me opting for arancini followed by contandino, which is a creamy sausage pasta dish. My friend went for the pigs cheek carbonara to start and followed that with the beetroot risotto. We chose the pomodori (tomatoes) for our side.
Our starters both looked good, served in dishes so lovely I wanted to nab them. You could smell the wild garlic pesto that my arancini were sat in. The beautiful aroma wafted up to my nose and made me dive into the dish. The balls themselves were soft, with the rice cooked perfectly and the cheese giving it nice flavour. I have to say I was a little envious of the dish on the other side of the table as it looked amazing, made with one of my favourite pastas (trofiette). However, my friend did not enjoy it so much. She felt a little misled by the pigs cheeks as this wasn’t the braised type more frequently served in the UK, but was more like lardons. This would have been ok in itself but due to the cut, she found it a bit chewy. She also found the dish a little salty for her palate but was probably to be expected considering the elements of the dish.
The mains also had a visual impact. Mine looked utterly comforting but my friend was weirdly shocked by the bright colour of her risotto (I am really not sure what she was expecting as it looked as I thought it would). My pasta dish was made from orecchiette and was sitting in a creamy sauce with Italian picante sausage, porcini mushrooms, rocket and a parmesan tuille. This dish was beautiful from start to finish. Everything had incredible flavour, from the sausage to the mushroom through to the parmesan. I am led to believe this hasn’t been off the menu since the day they opened, and frankly, I am not surprised. Across the table from me, my friend found the risotto needed more in it to break it up a bit as it became too samey as she went on. I think both of us have decided not to pick risottos in restaurants any more as this is often a problem. I did have a quick try of the dish and the taste was good, so if you don’t mind the lack of variety on your plate, this could still work as a dish. The side of tomatoes were lovely. Balsamic vinegar was drizzled over them and the little basil leaves were a perfect match, as you would expect.
With me looking like the cat who got the cream with my chosen plates of food and my friend not so, we decided to see what desserts brought. These weren’t part of the voucher deal so paid full price. I was toying between the bomboloni and the chocolate mousse, so asked our server for her recommendation. She said bomboloni with such speed that I thought she was actually clarifying that was what I said, when in fact she just was incredibly certain that this was the dessert to try, so that had me sold. My friend went for the limone, which was a lemon cream which came with meringue. My dessert consisted of three small, round, warm, sugared doughnuts with a dish of chocolate sauce. The doughnuts weren’t the lightest I’d ever had but that didn’t stop them from being yummy. The chocolate sauce was good, although I would prefer mine a little thicker than perhaps traditionally served. On the other side of the table, the dish was quite creamy and could have been a little smaller. I had a taste though and it was full of zing.
This meal was different for the two of us – me really enjoying it and my friend not as much, although she did admit it was partly down to the menu choices she made.
Food – 7/10
Service – 9/10
Atmosphere – 7.5/10
Value – 7.5/10
Overall – 31/40
Would I eat here again? I would, but with a different dining companion!
Cost £39 with the voucher plus £10 for the desserts but would be closer to £65 full price.