23rd November 2017 7pm
Well the day had come – my 40th birthday (did I hear someone say I don’t look 40?!). I had quite a few foodie related plans in the weeks surrounding my birthday but my friends had organised a surprise outing to Monteiths. The last time I had visited was before the birth of Edinburgh Feasts, so I was intrigued to see what they now offered.
Monteiths can be found down a pretty path off the Royal Mile, easily spotted by the wicker and fairy light arch. The restaurant isn’t that large but they have managed to slot in a small bar area too, so you can visit just for drinks if you wish. Whilst perusing the menu one of the waiting staff came over with a cocktail for me for my birthday, which was a really nice touch. It was a Rosehip Gimlet and had a highly entertaining head of foam. Back to the menu – we were a little surprised that there wasn’t really much for vegetarians. However, our veggie diner spoke to the waiting staff who said they could rustle up a risotto and asked for vegetable preferences. It does amaze me in this day and age that there aren’t at least a couple of vegetarian options as standard for each course on a menu. Anyway, we chose an array of foods. I opted for the crispy squid to start, followed by the venison. My friends chose items such as seafood chowder, liver parfait, smoked bacon rashers and heritage tomatoes for their starters and mussels, steak, risotto and chicken for their mains.
All the starters looked great. My squid had a lovely batter with a good flavour. The squid was not chewy or rubbery and the accompanying side salad had a beautiful dressing on it (to the point that I wondered whether I preferred the salad to the squid!). Everyone seemed to be enjoying their food, with nods specifically to the parfait with port jelly and the bacon rashers, which came with a butterscotch sauce.
The mains continued on the same theme. However, there did seem to be a bit of variety in the sizes of the portions, with the risotto being quite large and the venison being relatively small. My venison was exquisite though. The flavours really worked together on the plate. The meat itself was cooked pink (which you were advised upon ordering), and came with a cauliflower puree, spring onions and beetroot. It felt like a good winter dish without being too stodgy. The mussels, which were a special, were plentiful and had a good sauce. It would have been useful to provide finger bowls at the time of eating rather than needing to be requested at the end of the meal, but that is a minor quibble. The steak and chips were good, but the cooked tomatoes were not really cooked, which would have been fine with me but meant my friend who had this left them uneaten. The chicken dish was also really good, with the peppercorn sauce giving a peppery kick. The additional flavours of haggis, shallot and turnip worked well.
We didn’t end up having dessert as Monteith’s were really kind and allowed us to have a cake (of the caterpillar variety) and set it up and brought it over. In fact, the staff in general were really good at ensuring they knew it was my birthday, looking after my needs as priority in the group and wishing me a happy birthday as soon as I sat down.
We all enjoyed our visit to Montieths and is well worth a try.
Food – 8/10
Service – 9/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Value – 7.5/10
Overall – 32.5/40
Would I eat here again? Yes!Cost £377 for 8 starters and mains, a few sides, two bottles of wine, 6 cocktails, a gin and tonic and some sparkling water.