8th March 2016 6pm




Dine opened relatively recently above the Traverse Theatre. This is a beautifully formed restaurant, circular in design and reoccurring in theme with a tree as a central focus. There was also an additional bar area off to the side.

The menus had lots on offer and we could both pretty much eat everything on offer as it all sounded delicious. I decided to order from the a la carte menu and went for ceviche of rock bass followed by venison. My dining partner for the evening decided to go with the incredibly good value market menu (£17.50 for three courses!) and opted for the ham hock terrine followed by seabream. She opted for a large glass of wine and I asked to see the cocktail menu, which offered great variety and went for a melon colada which I thought might compliment the flavours of my starter. It was delicious and would quite happily drink more!

Firstly, as expected, the starters which both looked impressive and even more so that the market menu starter my friend was having was just as big a size as mine – no scrimping here just because you are going from the cheaper menu. Onto my ceviche. The reason why my melon colada went well with this was because it came with a lime puree, apple, gingerbread melba and coconut. The coconut was shaved pieces, no desiccated stuff in sight. The fish was light and worked with all the other flavours, but it needed perhaps some extra seasoning when on its own. On the other side of the table, the terrine was being devoured. It was well flavoured and the toasted sourdough was a good touch.

The mains followed and were beautifully presented. My venison was pink and cut like butter. No steak knives needed here. The mash was smooth and hints of rosemary wafted through it. The braised haunch was plentiful and succulent. The mushrooms and red cabbage complimented nicely. I almost licked the plate clean. My friend’s seabream was sublime. She wasn’t sure what was done with the broccoli or the puree but she was seriously wowed by it.

We thought we could squeeze in dessert, so I went for the chocolate brownie and my friend went for the seasonal fruit crumble. The chocolate brown was accompanied by a chocolate ganache, chocolate crumble, chocolate sauce and toasted hazelnuts. If you love chocolate, this is for you. I eat it all heartily but at the same time missed a splash of cream or ice cream to avoid a cocoa overload. However, this is really a minor quibble. The fruit crumble was again a generous portion. The crumble was perfect and the fruit still identifiable rather than a bland mush you can sometimes get.

We really enjoyed our meal at Dine and thought the environment was lovely too. We were talking about a return visit before we’d even left.

Food 9/10
Service 9/10
Atmosphere 8/10
Value 8.5/10

Overall 34.5/40

Would I eat here again? Yes, it’s lovely.

Cost £67 for three courses from a la carte, three courses from the market menu, a large glass of wine and a cocktail.

Dine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato



10th July 2015 7pm




A couple of us at work had been talking about trying Anfora and when we saw a deal for four, including starters, mains and a bottle of prosecco for £49, we thought we would take the opportunity with a couple of colleagues. Anfora is situated in the Vintner Rooms and when we were greeted and seated, we were given a short and interesting history of the building. The restaurant is split into two, with the dining area near the bar a darker area and the dining section we were in was a light, bright room, lit by candles as they cannot put any wiring in the room. The walls and ceiling are still the originals dating back from the 17th century. Although we had a voucher deal, this did enable us to order form the standard a la carte menu. For starters I went for scallops and then surprising I opted for the tofu for the main. The others went also for scallops, mackerel and quail for their starters and two went for pork and one for fish for the main.

Scallops, quail, mackerel - Anfora

Scallops, quail, mackerel – Anfora

We were given a couple of types of bread and some soft butter whilst we waited for our food. I did find it a little odd that the waitresses were leaning across diners to reach others, rather than going behind the diners when the tables either side were unoccupied and therefore left enough space. However, we had prompt service and the starters arrived not long after. Weirdly, they were not all brought out together and another table were also getting part of their meals at the same time. This seemed a little strange. Anyway, back to the starters. They were visually impressive. The scallops I had were not rubbery but small and soft. The chorizo jam was exceptional and provided a wonderfully sweet and spicy element. The apple and kohlrabi was also lovely and light. The other diner eating the same dish felt exactly the same. My friend eating the quail commented that she was a little worried that the dish would be too sweet but was actually just right. The mackerel eater commented that the orange was slightly bitter but the mackerel flavour was strong enough to stand up to it. We were all very happy with the starters.

Pork, tofu, fish - Anfora

Pork, tofu, fish – Anfora

The mains that followed continued the theme of excellent presentation. My tofu was an inspired choice, even though I am a hardened meat eater. I had been swayed by the honey and soy element of the dish and I wasn’t let down. The dressing was excellent and the summer salad was fresh and full of goodness. It was a perfect choice for a summers evening. The pork was also enjoyed by my two friends who had opted for it. The cheek element was particularly well received. The crackling was also crunchy. My friend who had chosen the fish commented on the generous portion size and that it was delicious. Again, a course we were all happy with.

White chocolate tart, elderflower cheesecake - Anfora

White chocolate tart, elderflower cheesecake – Anfora

We had a bit of a chat as to whether we would head on somewhere for drinks or whether we would stay for dessert. We decided to stay on and try a dessert. Three of us decided to indulge, two going for the white chocolate tart and one for the elderflower cheesecake. Sadly, we waited an inordinately long time for these. These types of desserts should only have needed plating up. We were waiting for the best part of 40 minutes for them. When they arrived, we did get an apology for the delay but no real explanation. The white chocolate tart was actually delicious and not sickly in the slightest. However, the ‘cherries’ that accompanied it turned out to be three halves of cherry. I think that when it is that minimal it doesn’t constitute part of the dish and is mere decoration. The ice cream was not a full scoop and much of what was there had melted. The reason for this became more apparent as the diner eating the cheesecake delved in to find it was starting to melt. Not what you expect for a cheesecake. These desserts must have been left on the pass for a considerable time. We did think about complaining but at this point we had waited so long we decided just to ask for the bill. We did this but then that didn’t arrive. I had to ask a different waitress and it eventually arrived. This took another 10 minutes or so. It really took the edge off the meal.

Had we finished after the mains, we would have left with a pretty good impression of Anfora. Sadly the experience after ordering the desserts took the shine off the experience. That, combined with the slightly strange waiting style (and my friend’s coat which had been thrown, inside out and at an angle, on a coat stand) meant that we were a bit deflated by the time we left.

Food – 7/10

Service – 5/10

Atmosphere – 8/10

Value – 8/10

Overall – 28/40

Cost – £49 for four starters, four mains and a bottle of prosecco plus an additional £19 for three desserts. True cost without the voucher would be around £140.

One Square

4th July 2015 2.15pm


Chicken liver pate - One Square

Chicken liver pate – One Square

At this time of year, One Square was bustling with graduates and their families. It’s the perfect location as graduation ceremonies take place over the road at Usher Hall. We had decided we were going to have a lovely late lunch which probably was going to involve cocktails. When we originally booked our table we had intended to do a set menu deal but in the end we all opted to go for the a la carte menu as the set menu didn’t really grab us. Cocktails were ordered and when they arrived most of us found they were quite strong. They certainly don’t water them down here. We placed our orders. I went for the chicken liver pate followed by the steak sandwich. My friends went for a variety of starters including salmon and salad and two others went for steak sandwich for their main and the other (a vegetarian) went for the risotto.

Salmon - One Square

Salmon – One Square

Whilst waiting for the starters we were given some bread. The slices were seeded and made for a very tasty stop-gap. Sadly the butter was rock solid, so it made it virtually impossible to spread. The starters arrived and looked lovely. My pate was light, fluffy and almost of a mousse consistency, not like your normal pate. I found this wonderful. The red onion jam complemented it well as

Rocket, parmesan & balsamic salad - One Square

Rocket, parmesan & balsamic salad – One Square

added a bit of zing to lift the dish. The toasted sourdough was sturdy enough to hold the pate. Elsewhere around the table the salmon was enjoyed and my friends commented on how fresh it tasted. The rocket, parmesan and balsamic salad, whilst simple, fitted the bill. This is actually a side dish on the menu but the restaurant were happy to provide it as a starter.

IMG_0612We didn’t have to wait too long for the mains. Three of us had the steak sandwich, which was accompanied by fries and a garlic mayo. Now I love garlic but I have to say that the mayo was particularly strong, to the point that it made the other two cough and the taste lingered for several hours afterwards. That being said, I still ate it heartily. The steak was still a bit pink and had some flavour. The accompanying salad leaves had a light mustard seed dressing over it which I particularly enjoyed. The fries were rustic but thin, which was good. The risotto was deemed decent and was eaten quickly. We all thought the food was good.

Banana split martini - One Square

Banana split martini – One Square

Onto dessert, we all opted for dessert cocktails and two of us also had a scoop of ice cream. I had a banana split martini which I thought worked well for dessert. The other dessert cocktails the others had seemed a little strong and perhaps not sweet enough. One of the cocktails had been spilt on a friend upon its arrival but the waitress was immediately apologetic and offered to try to fix it but it really hadn’t been much of an issue. The ice cream was standard but nothing stunning.

So overall, the staff were friendly and helpful. The food was good but I do think it is a little expensive for what it is as I could have had something similar elsewhere to the same standard for closer to half the price.

Food – 8/10

Service – 8/10

Atmosphere – 8/10

Value – 6/10

Overall – 30/40

Cost – approximately £250 for 5 starters, 4 mains, and one side, 2 ice creams, 1 bottle of white wine, 6 cocktails and 1 gin and tonic.

Galvin Brasserie De Luxe


2nd July 2015 – 6.45pm


Galvin Brasserie De Luxe Galvin Brasserie De Luxe

I made an impromptu visit here with a friend that I had not seen for almost ten years. After coming here a few times (including their massive Sunday lunch), I knew this was a safe bet for great food. There is a good range of food on offer on the menu and covers a range of prices. The restaurant has a very French feel, with a central bar area that shows off some of the seafood. My friend put the helpful waitress through her paces, not only asking for recommendations on which cut of steak is best to have rare but also about types of wines that would meet her preferences. Once advice was sought, we ordered. I went for steak tartare maison (no surprise) followed by lemon sole with a side of Chantenay carrots. My dining companion chose the crab tagliatelle followed by a sirloin steak, a side of fries and a peppercorn sauce. Bread was brought to the table which was tasty and the butter soft enough to spread. The wine was brought in a delicate carafe. The eye to detail is high here, as when my friend went to the toilet, she dropped her napkin and picked it up and placed it back on the table. A waiter noticed this and discretely took the napkin and replaced it with a fresh one.

Steak tartare and crab tagliatelle - Galvin Steak tartare and crab tagliatelle – Galvin

When the starters arrived, I knew I would be happy with the steak tartare as I have had it here before and it didn’t disappoint. I still maintain that this is the best tartare I’ve eaten in the capital. It was fresh and zingy, with the ingredients cut finely rather than coarsely to provide subtlety. The egg was incredibly creamy and bound the meat together well. The toast was not overdone and held well against the meat. On the other side of the table, the crab tagliatelle was being enjoyed. It is unusual to see crab with tagliatelle rather than linguine. She said that there was a gentle level of aniseed running through the dish.

Lemon sole and sirloin steak - Galvin Lemon sole and sirloin steak – Galvin

I had been advised by the waitress upon ordering that the lemon sole was served on the bone. I don’t mind this too much with fish where it slides off the bone such as this one. The fish was quite large and covered in capers and lemon. Luckily I like capers quite a bit but it might have been a bit much for some diners. I did find the fish a touch overdone but only a little. The capers added a nice dimension, not just to the fish but to the accompanying crushed potatoes. The lemon wasn’t intrusive but brought the best out of the fish. That side of carrots were lovely and buttery but were perhaps too much for me to eat on my own. My friend’s steak was cooked as requested and seemed to be enjoyed. Again, the side of fries was quite large for one but she had a good go at demolishing them.

Although our intention was to also have dessert, we just couldn’t manage it. Desserts I’ve had here before have also been tasty. Overall, Galvin offers a high standard of dining in a relaxed setting.

Food – 8/10

Service – 10/10

Atmosphere – 9/10

Value – 8/10

Overall – 35/40

Cost – £95 for two starters, two mains, two sides and a glass of wine


17th May 2015 – 12.30pm




Purslane is situated in a little basement abode on St Stephen Street in Stockbridge and seats less than 20, which gives an intimate vibe to the place. The restaurant is decorated with quiet tones of mushroom and dark wood but somehow the place doesn’t feel dark. Although we had visited before, this was before the blog existed so we took advantage of a voucher deal to try the place again. We had got a five course tasting menu for lunch for £39 for the two of us, which was incredibly good value but the standard seven course tasting menu is also excellent value for money. On arrival we were given the menu so we could see what was in store. We ordered some drinks (no cocktails this time) and whilst we were waiting for the tasting courses to commence, were brought some warm bread rolls. These were nice and tasty but the accompanying butter seemed to be unsalted, which was a bit of a shame. However, this was the only blip in what ended up being an exquisite meal.

Butternut squash veloute - Purslane

Butternut squash veloute – Purslane

The first course was an amuse bouche of butternut squash veloute and arrived in a cute little cup. I love veloutes and this one certainly didn’t disappoint. My friend commented that she could have eaten a massive bowlful of it with some bread. I have to say that I couldn’t have agreed more. It was light, smooth and delicate, yet at the same time has a smoky robustness of flavour. I was trying to drink it slowly to make it last as long as possible.

Sea bream - Purslane

Sea bream – Purslane

The next course was sea bream, parmesan polenta and sun-dried tomato arancini. I had arancini here before and fell in love with them. Again, they were still of an excellent standard. They were creamy in texture and packed with a great depth of tomato-y goodness. The sea bream itself was beautifully cooked, with a salty skin which was deliciously crispy. I could have easily eaten a bigger portion (yes, I know it was a starter but I liked it!). The polenta, on first glance, looked like a slice of butter but was a delightful contrast to the fish. The accompanying pea and tomato salad gave the dish an air of freshness and balance.

Roast rump of beef - Purslane

Roast rump of beef – Purslane

Onto the main and we had roast rump of beef. The five course menu usually has pork but today it was beef and it was like a posh mini roast. The meat was quite pink, which was just to my liking but may not be to everyone’s taste. The flavour was excellent. We perhaps could have done with steak knives as it was a rump cut but we soldiered on. The celeriac and potato stack creamy and the kale was er, like kale. However, the star of the plate, apart from the meat, was the combination of mushrooms which has been softly cooked and the sweet onions. The juiciness of these onions was wonderful and was almost like an onion marmalade. The red wine jus brought the dish together well.

Raspberry sorbet and chocolate mousse - Purslane

Raspberry sorbet and chocolate mousse – Purslane

Now, this restaurant does a ‘pre-dessert’. This is my kind of place! It’s essentially another dessert which almost acts like a palate cleanser. It was a raspberry sorbet with a chocolate mousse. As expected, the raspberry worked well with the chocolate, with the zing of the raspberry making sure that the mousse wasn’t the overpowering flavour of the dish.The coulis dotted about the dish was sweet and emphasised the raspberry flavour even more.

Rhubarb and custard - Purslane

Rhubarb and custard – Purslane

The actual dessert came in the form of ‘rhubarb and custard’. Obviously this wasn’t going to be quite as straight forward as described. It was absolutely delicious and we agreed that it was the best course. There was rhubarb ice cream, which was creamy and, amazingly, had not lost any of the true rhubarb flavour. There were also lots of small pieces of rhubarb which still had a bit of bite. Alongside that was a stack of vanilla panacotta and rhubarb jelly and a piece of crème brulee to add the custard element. The brulee was also packed with the sweetness of vanilla. This was a perfect finish to the meal.

Purslane is a lovely little restaurant, great for an intimate dinner but simply great to eat at…full stop.

Food – 9/10

Service – 9/10

Atmosphere – 8/10

Value – 9/10

Overall – 35/40

Cost – £52 for two five course menus, a glass of wine and a vodka and lemonade (voucher for the food was £39).


1st April 2015 6.00pm


Ondine is situated on George IV Bridge but could easily be missed as it is a first floor restaurant and only has a small doorway at ground level. If you do manage to venture in, you will find the restaurant to be a mosaic of monochrome and elegant with it. The dining room has a circular appearance with the oyster bar at its centre. You can opt to have a table at the bar or on the main floor of the restaurant. We had decided to have a standard table when we booked and were placed at the window with a nice view over Victoria Street.

Ondine offers both an a la carte and a set menu. We opted for the a la carte menu. They do offer some great platters on this menu but we went for the traditional starter/main/dessert combo. I went for the steak tartare, followed by the grilled lemon sole and finished with the apple and toffee crumble tart. My dining companion went for the fish and shellfish soup, followed by deep fried haddock and chips and then the lemon posset. When ordering, I was given the choice of having my fish on or off the bone (I went for off). My friend was given the choice of having her haddock battered or in breadcrumb (she went for batter). We were given a selection of bread whilst we waited. There was brown and white but also a delightful little cheesy bread ball each. They were definitely the best of the breads, slightly warmed and exploding in your mouth with a beautiful cheese flavour.

Steak Tartare (top) and fish and shellfish soup (bottom) - Ondine

Steak Tartare (top) and fish and shellfish soup (bottom) – Ondine

Onto the starters. Those of you who have read some of my other reviews will know that I like to try steak tartare wherever I can, even if that means ordering it in a seafood speciality restaurant. This stacked up pretty well. The portion was a decent size. I think I would have liked my egg a little larger but that is personal preference. There was plenty of zing inside the tartare and it was seasoned perfectly. It came with toasted sourdough, which looked greasy on first inspection but was actually surprisingly crisp. On the other side of the table I think she had gone to heaven. She was not only saying this was the best fish soup she had ever had but the best soup she had tasted full stop. This was high praise indeed. It was not luke-warm and was a generous portion (perhaps a little large for a starter but that didn’t stop her!). There were decent sized croutons served separately with cheese and rouille. She felt it was good to have to option of having this in the soup or not.

Grilled lemon sole (top), haddock and chips (bottom) - Ondine

Grilled lemon sole (top), haddock and chips (bottom) – Ondine

My main was grilled lemon sole and looked pretty on the plate. It came with cockles, which I had never tried before. I enjoyed them and though they had a good taste of the sea without losing its own flavour. The fish itself was big and meaty. Perhaps a bit more meaty that I was expecting. It has a good crust from grilling and was packed with flavour. The dish was also scattered with chorizo which, whilst packed with flavour, also seemed overly salty for my palate, so much so that the dish became too salty for me to cope with and I couldn’t finish it, which was a shame. My dining partner enjoyed the fish and chips. You can tell the quality of the restaurant by whether they give you muslin over the lemon so you don’t get seeds in your dinner. The battered haddock was a large size but was spoilt a bit by being placed directly onto the pea puree, as it made the batter soggy underneath. The chips were thin and crispy. I pinched a few and can confirm they were pretty amazing.

Apple and toffee crumble tart - Ondine

Apple and toffee crumble tart – Ondine

We weren’t sure we could face dessert as we were so full but gave it a good go anyway. The tart was nice and the apple had not turned into mush and was still identifiable. It was tainted a little by the nuts in the topping, which I felt were a bit too bitter for the dish and knocked away the delicate spicing of the fruit. It came with a small jug of custard which I thought was a bit too thin for such a robust pudding but was nice nevertheless. The posset was tasty and tangy with little meringues dotted on top. The lemon curd was sharp and tangy.

Overall this was a solid dining experience. The staff were efficient and kept their distance. The venue itself had a nice atmosphere and decent music in the background. The food was ok in general, which a couple of highlights that stood out.

Food – 7/10

Service – 8/10

Atmosphere – 9/10

Value – 7/10

Overall – 31/40

Cost – £89 for two three course meals and 1 glass of wine.


18th March 2015 – 6.30pm


Timberyard is situated in a large warehouse space, which used to house storage for costumes and props. The place has a massive swinging door, which gives you a sense of the airy proportions of the room you are about to experience. Whilst is it a space with high ceilings, it still feels warm and welcoming, with candles dotted about the room and dark wooden tables. This place is well aware of the size of the venue though as they even have a blanket for every table should you find that more comfortable. We certainly didn’t need it but it is a nice touch. The ethos of this restaurant is sustainability and using local produce.

Duck heart - Timberyard

Duck heart – Timberyard

Once we were seated, we started off by being given the drinks list. There is plenty on offer here, with a nice array of soft drinks, cocktails, beers, ciders and wine. We were then given two menus; one was the 7 course tasting menu (which we were advised would need up to three hours set aside to eat all the courses) or the main ‘daily’ menu. Whilst the tasting menu was very tempting, we thought it might just be too much for a week night so opted for the daily menu (which is actually date stamped). This menu is split into four categories: bites, small, large and sweet. The waiter recommended that we went for all four and that is just what we did. Before we ordered we were also asked if we had any dietary requirements, which I think is particularly useful here, as the menu lists the main ingredients in the dish rather than give you a description of the dish that will appear in front of you. I opted for duck heart, liver, mushroom, onion and mustard seed from the ‘bite’ section followed by asparagus, duck yolk, goats curd, rye, seeds, celery and cider from the ‘small’ section then onto smoked beef, cauliflower, kohlrabi, mushroom, ramson, radish and ramp from the ‘large’ options and then finally sea buckthorn, carrot, crowdie, buttermilk, biscuit and seeds from the ‘sweet’ options. My dining companion went from celeriac, crab, pear, crème fraiche, brioche and horseradish followed by the same asparagus dish and then onto the turbot, smoked mussels, fennel, wild leek, potato, dill and celery and finally the honey, bee pollen, gooseberry, almond, milk and barley (phew!).

We were topped up with water throughout the meal but whilst we were waiting for the ‘bites’ to arrive, we were given some nice bread, bone marrow, and a cheese and butter mix with a sprinkling of pepper and sea salt with parsley to put on the bread. This was a tasty interpretation of the bread and butter option. I particularly enjoyed the salt/parsley mix, which complemented the bread well.

Celeriac - Timberyard

Celeriac – Timberyard

The bites arrived and looked amazing. The duck heart had a stick through it. I did wonder whether this might put people off but then realised that if you were ordering a duck heart, you probably weren’t all that squeamish. It certainly added drama to the dish. The heart was tender and not rubbery and the liver came in the form of a pate, which had bags of flavour in such a small piece. The mushrooms had a depth I don’t think I have ever experienced. To be honest, I could have eaten several bowls of this quite easily. The celeriac, on the other side of the table, seemed to be served on a rather large plate, as is often the trend. I’m not sure if that was really necessary but the mish-mash feel of the plates and glasses made it seem ok to do so and less pretentious. The food was consumed very quickly and we had to remind ourselves to savour all the flavours.

Asparagus - Timberyard

Asparagus – Timberyard

Both of us had opted for the asparagus for the next course. We certainly weren’t disappointed. This dish was full of freshness. The egg added a creaminess that brought the dish alive. The greens on the plate had a vivid colour, showing off the benefit of locally resourced food and nurtured by an attentive chef. The curd worked well and the seeds brought a nice texture to balance out the creamy, smooth elements. Again we both could have eaten another portion of this, it was that good. I think this might have been my favourite course.

Smoked beef (top) and Turbot (bottom)

Smoked beef (top) and Turbot (bottom)

Now, onto the ‘large’ course. Both the dishes were of a decent size and a visual wonder. This place knows how to show off the variety of ingredients they are using, particularly with the less common ones. I was told in advanced that the beef is cooked on the rarer side of medium, which was perfect for me. The smoking of the beef wasn’t overkill but added dimension to the beef in a subtle way. Again, the texture and range of flavour was pretty spectacular and I had been introduced to some varieties of vegetable I wasn’t familiar with but will look for in the future. The turbot looked delicate on the plate and the foam around it which had more purpose than creating an effect. Again, my friend enjoyed every morsel on the plate and ooh-ed and aah-ed over the flavours.

Honey and bee pollen (top) and sea buckthorn (bottom)

Honey and bee pollen (top) and sea buckthorn (bottom)

Finally, the sweets. Neither of us were really sure about what we had opted for and whether we would like them. Oh how silly of us. These were just phenomenal. My sea buckthorn dish, whilst it had its sour notes, was full of different textures and flavours. The thin meringue was a delightful surprise and the sorbet was full of zing. There were creamy elements again to balance it out and seeds and biscuit to add crunch. Each mouthful brought a new surprise or flavour combination. I couldn’t find a fault with any component. Even the carrots were a pleasantly sweet addition. On the other side of the table, a delighted squeak went out when she discovered the cake bits were warm. She also enthused over the honeycomb, which she said was an excellent example and was well made. She actually isn’t really a fan of honey but found this dish to be completely satisfying.

I don’t think I can ever convey in a review just how good the food was in this restaurant. The flavours the kitchen manage to get out of this food is astounding. The service matched it in every single way. We never felt like we were being interrupted but our every need was looked after and you could see from a distance that the waiters were always doing the rounds to check that all the tables had everything they needed. I think the only thing we could complain about was that the knives could do with a sharpen. If that is seriously the only thing I can complain about, you know it must be good. Sadly this place isn’t cheap, so we cannot make a trip to it once a week but I have to say that even though it’s not in a low cost bracket, the value you get is top notch. I will be coming back again as soon as I can.

Food – 10/10

Service – 10/10

Atmosphere – 10/10

Value – 9.5/10

Overall – 39.5/40

Cost – £116 for 4 courses for two people plus one glass of wine

The Howard Hotel


7th March 2015 7pm


Hidden away, just off Dundas Street, sits the Howard Hotel. The Atholl Restaurant, which lies within the hotel, is a small venue with only 14 covers and has to meet the needs of hotel guests and the casual diner alike, so booking is advisable if you wish to try this place. This restaurant has been awarded two AA rosettes so it had a reputation to live up to.

Upon arrival we were welcomed and offered a choice of table. We opted for one of the window tables. It was a shame that the view was obstructed by a window box hedge but I can understand them wanting to offer privacy to their diners. The room felt a little dated but it is difficult to get the balance with these older properties and probably suited the venue. No music was playing for a while but we eventually got some classical music going to give the place a bit of a lift and to stop our voices echoing around the room. We had booked the tasting menu because of a voucher we’d bought. I often choose not to opt for hotel restaurants but this seemed a great value deal. The menu consisted of 7 courses plus tea/coffee and petit fours. There was an option to pair this with wines for an extra £30 or to add a cheese course for £9.50.

Mozarella and tomato tart - Howard

Mozarella and tomato tart – Howard

The staff were discreet and quiet, gently enquiring after our preferences throughout our dinner. We were provided with some bread rolls, which were nicely warmed and ready to slather butter onto. This might have been better to arrive with the soup course but I was happy to chow down on it immediately. The amuse bouche followed shortly after. This was a mozzarella and tomato tart. For such a small thing it was packed full of flavour. The creaminess of the cheese came through in particular but the drizzle of sauce over the top added freshness that kept the dish well balanced. A number of carefully placed micro leaves adorned the plate. There was an obvious attention to detail although I am not sure whether they were really needed.

Leek and potato soup - Howard

Leek and potato soup – Howard

The next course was a leek and potato soup with garlic sippets. This soup had a fantastic green colour, which I prefer to soups that look wishy-washy. My dining partner was pleased that the soup was relatively hot, commenting that soups are too often served luke warm. I actually prefer my soups luke warm. However, we both seemed satisfied with it so the Howard must have found the ambient temperature for soup serving! The soup had depth, texture and a fresh yet comforting flavour.

Ham hock terrine - Howard

Ham hock terrine – Howard

Following the soup was a ham hock terrine with pear chutney and a charcoal oatcake. This was visually a great dish, with the charcoal oatcake creating a striking image on the plate. The terrine itself looked appetising. Once we started digging in, it wasn’t quite as good as it looked. It was nice but a few little things let it down. The terrine itself seemed under-seasoned, which is saying something from me, who doesn’t use much seasoning in cooking. The oatcake was also a little too hard for my preference but was still pleasant, although I could have done with a second to go with the volume of terrine and chutney. The chutney itself was absolutely delicious. All in all, this dish worked well together and still managed to be an enjoyable course, even with my little quibbles.

Salmon - Howard

Salmon – Howard

Up next was a salmon fillet with wilted spinach and a lobster bisque. The salmon was nicely cooked and it flaked well and was not dry in the slightest. The wilted spinach managed to be full of taste and seasoned to perfection. I was pleased to see it was not a mass of pulp, which spinach is prone to becoming if overcooked. The bisque wasn’t quite what I was expecting and felt more like a dressing on the plate. That aside, it still tasted very good. After this we had a lemon sorbet palate cleanser. There is not too much to say here apart from it was zingy but not overpowering or running the risk of tasting like washing up liquid. It did the job it was supposed to and I was ready for the next course.

Highland beef fillet - Howard

Highland beef fillet – Howard

We were served pan fried highland beef fillet, dauphinoise potatoes, sautéed mushrooms, salsify and a red wine jus. This was the highlight of the menu. It was good to see that even with a voucher deal that you still get to have a fillet cut and a massive one at that. The fillet itself was cooked well, although there did not appear to be much difference between a medium and rare piece. The salsify had a great earthy depth. The potatoes were served in a stack and have to be some of the tastiest I’ve ever had. I was a little worried that it would be too much to finish when I saw it stacked on my plate but as soon as I tasted it, I gobbled the whole lot down. The mushrooms were full of woodland essence and their softness complemented the dish. This whole dish looked so unassuming on arrival yet packed in so much.

Dark chocolate and orange torte - Howard

Dark chocolate and orange torte – Howard

Finally, we were served a dark chocolate and orange torte with almond foam. As suspected, this was a very chocolate-y dish and could be a little too much for some, particularly for a tasting menu. It might work better as part of a three course meal. The top had a crunchy texture which helped break up the torte’s denseness, as did the fruit reduction. I am not sure what the almond foam offered. It didn’t help lighten the dish but it certainly gave it a beautiful visual element.

We were too full for coffee, so didn’t get to try to petit fours (and were not offered them when we said no to coffee, which is a little annoying as I don’t drink tea or coffee anyway so would I not have been offered them if my dining companion had opted for coffee?). We were not rushed out, which was nice but we ended up being the only diners in as the hotel guests drifted off and we seemed to have been forgotten about. We were not offered any further drinks, so they missed a trick there. We finally got someone’s attention and got the bill to pay for the wine my friend had and hand over the voucher. We had a nice chat at this point with what might have been the manager about the voucher deal and how popular it had been.

This place offers good, decent food. Whilst this restaurant might not set the world alight, it would certainly make you feel very happy that you’d come and been fed extremely well.

Food – 8.5

Service – 8

Atmosphere – 7

Value – 9

Overall 32.5

Cost – £65 for two (itison voucher) not paired with wines. Full price would usually be £110.