Surf & Turf, Holyrood

The Surf & Turf restaurant at the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel is a new concept developed in-house by the hotel group.

Following its success at the St Andrew’s Rusack hotel, the theme has been rolled out to the Holyrood hotel, under the guidance of executive chef Glenn Roach.

The restaurant itself is a welcoming space; calm and stylish, with its subtle taupe and cream décor, simply set tables and comfortable booths. Midweek at lunch time, there were, maybe half a dozen other diners, as service segued from lunch to afternoon tea.

The three of us – me, my mother, and my 9 year old – are not difficult to please, but the challenge is that we all prefer different types of food. Thankfully, the Surf & Turf menu,  grounded in the classics, with a few more adventurous twists, and with sufficient rather than overwhelming choice, pleased each of us.

None of us is usually a big lunch eater, but we heroically launched into starters of lobster arancini and a trout roulade. Both were appetising, balanced and just unusual enough to feel like something special. Accompanied by a bread basket and olives, these in themselves would have been enough for a light meal.

In fact, in retrospect (being a fan of the tapas/mezze style of eating) I would happily have ordered a selection of starters: the Caesar salad, haggis bon bons, and mini beef tacos, were all very tempting.

Our main courses were solid rather than exciting –to be fair, there’s only so much that can be done with a burger and with fish and chips. I chose the wagyu beef burger, simply because it was wagyu beef (£2 more expensive than the Aberdeen Angus equivalent) but to be honest, my palate clearly isn’t refined enough to notice a difference.

The accompanying sweet potato fries were good, the tomato relish tasty, and my mother’s ‘truffle fries’ (we forgot to confirm what made them truffle fries, but assume it was the oil they were cooked in) as crisp as the light batter on her fish.

If we wanted to quibble, it was that both dishes were beautifully presented, the fish in a metal basket on a wooden board, and the burger on a sort of marble rectangle platter, but the lack of a good old-fashioned plate made them difficult to tackle! (‘Tip it onto the side plate,’ instructed the 9 year old; he was right).

There is, as the name Surf & Turf implies, an extensive choice of steak: 32-day aged fillet, sirloin and ribeye available in 200, 350, 500 & 1000g sizes – which begged the obvious question, who orders the 1kg portion? Apparently, very few individuals, but it’s great for sharing over a leisurely dinner, Chateaubriand-style.

Salt-rubs and sauces are varied, and seafood, too, is covered with accompanying lobster tails, langoustines, and scallops, all sourced in Scotland.

In lieu of a children’s menu (which are generally safe rather than imaginative, anyway) our server told my son he could have ‘whatever he wanted’: fish fingers, mac n cheese…and he happily chose crispy chicken wings and fries from the main menu.

The only one who could manage it, he went on to choose sticky toffee pudding for dessert, with a back-up of salted caramel ice-cream – he was going to donate the former to me if he didn’t like it. As it happened, he liked it all, but graciously allowed his grandmother and me a taste, and we enjoyed them too.

The whole experience was made by Eva, the charming, efficient and impeccable server. Throughout, she gave us the impression that nothing was too much trouble, and she had a sixth sense for when we needed something – despite being the only server on duty and overseeing a few diners dotted over a substantial space.

Surf & Turf has big steps to fill, replacing as it does Paul Tamburrini’s Bistro Deluxe, which closed this summer. I can’t compare the two, as this was my first time in the hotel. However, overall, lunch was a very pleasant, unhurried experience, and not unduly expensive for a hotel in its central location. I would happily return for an extravagant steak dinner – if anyone wants to invite me out!

Sharing Platters and a Market Menu are available. Limited vegetarian options.

Starters from £6; Mains from £12 (up to £130 for a 1000g, 32-day aged fillet steak); Desserts from £7

Surf & Turf at the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel and Spa, 81 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh.

Tel: 0344 879 9028

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