The Observatory at the Glasshouse

26th January 2016 6pm

I came here to try canapés at a Zomato event last year but this was not enough to review fully (although I did do a mini review here). I swore to go back and try it out properly and a deal on itison prompted us to get our act together and go. The voucher deal included prosecco, amuse bouche, starter and a main course for two. I did let my friend have my prosecco although I could have substituted it for a soft drink.

Amuse bouche - The Observatory

Amuse bouche – The Observatory

It is difficult to find the restaurant within the Glasshouse Hotel as you have to be let into the lift by reception then walk along hotel room corridors then past a snug, down some stairs and along another corridor before you get there. Whilst this may be fine for hotel guests it is not overly accessible for the general public. I can understand why they chose this venue within the hotel because of the lovely panoramic views of Calton Hill, but alas, the curtains were drawn as it was dark outside, so no night-time view. The dining room itself is quiet and understated but we were warmly welcomed and had a choice of tables, all nicely spaced out, so we never felt too close to other diners. The menu was relatively short but varied enough. I went for scallops and venison and my dining companion opted for wild mushroom pithiver and lamb. The amuse bouche came and was a venison pastry dish. It was very pleasant but I felt it was an odd choice for an amuse bouche.

The starters arrived and looked good. My king scallops were cooked very well and there was an extremely generous portion. There was, however, only a small amount of cauliflower puree and it would have been nice to have a touch more. The accompanying morcilla was delicious and worked well with the scallops. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was the dried cauliflower on top, as the flavour was not intensified and just tasted chewy, so I don’t really know what it added to the dish. On the other side of the table, my friend thought that overall her dish was quite nice. She commented that the salad with the blue cheese and dressing was very good. The pastry was also good quality but the mushrooms were a little disappointing and as a result didn’t feel as if it came together well.

Onto the mains. My venison was cooked as requested (rare) and was simply delicious. The meat was tender and melted in my mouth. The salsify was cooked so it was almost sweet yet still earthy. The red cabbage/bramble combination was a pure joy and worked perfectly with the gamey meat. My dining partner was also enjoying tucking into her lamb, which also very good and cooked well. The puy lentils were excellent. We were both very pleased with this course.

We decided we could squeeze in a dessert, which was additional to the voucher. I went for the cherry Bakewell tart with custard ice cream. My friend went for pomegranate crème brûlée. Upon arrival, my dessert had the pointless paintbrush stripe of sauce across the plate which wasn’t enough to add anything useful. Overall though, the dessert itself was nice enough. The ice cream was a bit too hard and not as creamy as I’d hoped but that was a minor quibble. However, a cardinal sin was occurring on the other side of the table. The crème brûlée had not been finished properly and the sugar topping was gloopy in the middle and sticky on the outside. It stuck to the spoon. There was no crunch of the spoon breaking the caramel here. I suggested sending it back but my friend didn’t want to make a fuss. This did deny the restaurant an opportunity of rectifying this error but it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. The rest of the brûlée was nice and the pomegranate worked well. It is a shame the topping ruined it. The accompanying shortbread was decent.

Overall, the Observatory was pleasant enough. There were highs but also a few lows which was a shame.

Food – 7.5/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Service – 8/10
Value – 8/10

Overall – 30.5/40

Would I come here again? Not sure 

Cost – the voucher was £45 for two plus £13 for the desserts. True cost nearer £75

 The Observatory - The Glasshouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Observatory – mini review

27th August 2015 6.30pm

The Observatory

The Observatory

Another Zomato meet up brought me to the Observatory restaurant at the Glasshouse Hotel. This time it was to sample some delights in canapé form rather than get to taste full dishes. At the start of the evening we headed up to the roof terrace, which afforded beautiful views both of Calton Hill and down to Leith. Pimms was served on arrival but I did think it tasted a little weak (but perhaps I just have my Pimms quite strong). Sadly, we didn’t stay on the roof terrace for too long as the Scottish weather meant we needed to head indoors. We were taken down to the Observatory restaurant via an area called the Snug, which had a beautiful modern fire going and lots of comfy seating. Once we reached the dining room, it was easy to be impressed. It had an enormous window running down the side of the room with a beautiful view onto Calton Hill. You could easily think you were in the middle of a forest if you looked in the right direction.That being said, the room seats about 50, so you are not in a vast space but the window helps to give that impression. Once settled into the room, we were given an introduction to the food by the sous chef which also covered the ethos of the restaurant. Their aim is to treat each element of food on the plate as a whole, which can bring out best of complimenting flavours. It was clear there was passion in what the restaurant was trying to do.

Before the canapés came out, we had the opportunity to try some cocktails in jars made by King Bloom. These were all really interesting (with the coconut one having silver glitter in it) but I opted for the vodka with raspberry and kiwi which was called Ladybird. All the cocktails had milk thistle in, which is supposed to be good for you. Ice was added to the jar, the lid put on ad then the cocktail shaken. I’m not sure whether it’s worth all that extra effort but it did taste nice.

The Observatory

The Observatory

With a drink in hand, the canapés began coming out of the kitchen. Firstly we got to taste the canapé version of their cod main which comprised of sorrel marinade cod fillet, spring onion and leeks. This was delicious. The fish was moist and light and the flavours worked well. Then we got to try a mini burger with cheese in the middle. There was a surprising sweetness to this which I really enjoyed. I wolfed that one down. Then there was venison and broccoli which I think was really a little too small to make the most of the venison flavour but that’s what you get with canapés. The last of the savoury dishes was a version of their brown crab starter which was crab in a warm tomato soup topped with a parmesan doughnut. This was fun but I did think the tomato soup did taste a little like unseasoned passata so perhaps more seasoning would bring the tomato alive. The dessert canapé was the restaurant’s quirky take on a teacake, with hazelnut sponge, marshmallow, jam and a shard of chocolate. These were delicious and we managed to sneak some more from the kitchen thanks to @aquirkylife

Before we left, we nipped back onto roof terrace as it had stopped raining to take in the views and take a few snaps. A thoroughly good time was had by all. The staff were incredibly friendly and had a good knowledge of the food. I felt very welcomed.

There is no score for this mini review as canapés are not enough to score on. However, this is somewhere I will definitely be returning to for the full dining experience soon to fully review and place on Zomato.

Please note that whilst this event was complimentary, views expressed are my own. Thanks to Zomato for arranging.