Edinburgh, summer, 2013
If you are staying in Edinburgh, book dinner here. Ensure that you book ahead. You may need to be content with a late booking.
We wended along the Royal Mile, ascending towards the Castle. L negotiated the cobbles expertly in her high heels. By 9.30pm we were past Boswell’s walk and ready to descend to the secret garden, our way lit by candles on each step (ladies with long gowns, beware).
The day had been dry and sunny, with a bone chilling wind. From our cosy vantage, the sky was an arctic blue and pink and you could see the clouds scudding across chimney tops, crowning architecture straight out of Bartram from Uncle Silas.
We were given impeccable service from a waiter who, appropriately and yet disturbingly, looked like Ming the Merciless. As with many legendary places, you get some guests with more money than manners, but this, for The Varnished Culture, adds to the interest. A loud group of Germans had dined early and left early. An American in a T-shirt, baseball cap and what appeared to be a sex-worker companion, also left early (in a hurry?). Two young men were having an intense tête-à-tête, and some time after we arrived, a group of Russians barged in, possibly from a Le Carré novel.
We had: pigeon breast and consommé, seafood bisque, venison and john dory, with some light French white, and a champagne and Armagnac to finish. L considered ordering the haggis (if to be tried, surely try here) with ‘neeps and taties’ (wee spuds and parsnips) but funked it.
Weighed down happily with atmosphere, good cheer and a delightful meal, we avoided the cobbles and grabbed a cab home after midnight. 10/10.