Hotel dining delights
Paul Tamburrini at Macdonald Holyrood Hotel is my kind of place: fine dining but unpretentious; knowledgeable staff; stylish, unstuffy surroundings; and warm.
Venturing out on the coldest night of winter so far, this latter attribute brought sighs of relief and we shook off our coats and peeled off our hats and gloves.
The welcome from staff was equally warm and the service couldnâ€™t be faulted: attentive staff but plenty of time to linger over dishes.
Iâ€™ve passed the hotel at the bottom of Holyrood Road, many times, but hadnâ€™t been in, so I was curious about dining there. The design of the restaurant is clever, small alcoves making cosy areas for diners, and capacity to seat large groups on a celebratory night out. Families, couples and groups of friends were adding to the buzz of the restaurant the night we visited.
The only real clue that it is connected to a hotel is that the toilets are large with multiple cubicles and are opposite lifts up to the bedrooms.
Paul Tamburrini moved into the space in 2017 and judging by older reviews on the website, started as he meant to go on, using the best and freshest ingredients, often sourced in Scotland. I wholeheartedly approve. If youâ€™re going to venture out on a freezing mid-winter Saturday night, the effort has got to be worth it.
We chose from the a la carte menu, which gave adequate options for vegetarians and carnivores. My dining partner sneaked in an order of scallops before I had a chance, so I plumped for the beetroot starter. The hand-dived Orkney scallops were the largest Iâ€™ve ever seen. Drizzled in a curry oil, they came with caramelised cauliflower and extremely fluffy cheese sauce. My beetroot was served with a separate dish of yoghurt topped with broccoli crumbs. I enjoyed it, but kept one eye enviously on the scallops until they disappeared.
My main of braised ox cheeks in red wine, smoky mash, mushroom and bacon was perfect â€“ just the right amount, the flavours not too overpowering in any one direction and the meat was succulent and easy to digest.
My partnerâ€™s poached turbot, mussel sauce, fennel and ratte potato was divine, particularly the potato which was whisked into a buttery foam.
Theo, our highly attentive waiter, brought us a choice of three desserts â€“ key lime pie, poached pear with toffee apple caramel and Mascarpone ice cream and, by far the prettiest, Belgium dark chocolate soufflÃ© decorated with gold leaf, which Iâ€™m still dreaming about. All the deserts are made on site and the key lime pie is something special, bursting with flavour.
The cheese platter was a mixture of British and French cheeses and the bread served throughout was made in a Glasgow prison â€“ and was delicious.
The rich and delicious food kept me warm until I arrived back home, but if the journey is too much, you can always book a room.
From the a la carte menu: starters Â£9-12.50; mains Â£18-24; deserts Â£8-12.50.
Paul Tamburrini at Macdonald Holyrood Hotel, 81 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh.