Tuesday, March 28th, 2017
Having booked a last minute trip to Edinburgh for Dean’s birthday, my thoughts quickly turned to a special restaurant for the occasion. After a quick google, it transpired that Edinburgh has four one Michelin star restaurants and the only one with availability was very conveniently Number One, attached to the hotel we had booked.
Initial impressions on entering the dining room were good. I do think that sometimes restaurants within hotels can feel a bit sterile and lacking in atmosphere up here, there was a gentle buzz of conversation, even on a Sunday night. We also noticed that the clientele were mostly our age which for us made for a relaxed and welcoming vibe.
There are a few options on the menu, 3 course a la carte, a seven course tasting menu and a ten course menu which adds foie gras, a cheese course and an extra desert to the seven course menu. We opted for the ten course menu and I had the paired wines, something that I haven’t done for a while and seeing as we only had to make our way upstairs after the meal it seemed like a good occasion to!
As we sat down we were immediately offered a glass of champagne ( we both had the Ruinart blanc de blancs) and a selection of nibbles were brought over, . We had noted my nut allergy on the booking and everyone took care to reassure me that dishes were safe as they came and discussed any changes that might be necessary to the tasting menu ( not many).
The first drink in the pairing was another glass of bubbles, Heidsieck Brut. The sommelier explained how this would differ from my first glass of champagne, based on the grapes used and how it was made. Thus accompanied the first two of the ten courses, a crab mousse Amuse Bouche and their signature smoked salmon and quails egg dish. The smoked salmon arrived at our table covered with a glass dome which was lifted to release a puff of smoke to add to the experience.
The next course was beetroot, served in a variety of ways, smoked, sorbet and meringue. Perhaps a bit too beetrooty but I really thought that this dish was technically excellent and really cemented my view that this was shaping up to be a fantastic meal. The sommelier poured a glass of Marlborough pinot noir to accompany this course which as expected went really well with the earthy flavours. If I had not gone with the wine pairing, I would probably gave been drinking white wine with this dish since I normally just drink white till the main course then switch to red so it felt a bit adventurous to be having a red wine so early on in the meal!
The standard foie gras course on offer has nuts featuring quite heavily in it so the chef instead made us an alternative dish with mushrooms, truffle and garlic which we both really enjoyed and I was so impressed that the chef was able to produce such a high quality alternative dish. This dish was accompanied by another Pinot noir, this time from Germany, but again the sommelier made sure to explain how it would be different, without making me like too much of a wine noob.
The fish course was halibut, served with some squid and squid ink pasta. Another delicious course, this time served with a Slovenian white.
The main course was beef, simple but stunning. Beef fillet, a little bit of prime rib, potato and aubergine.
By this stage, needless to say we were feeling rather full, so the prospect of cheese was somewhat daunting. Luckily this was a light cheese course, Gouda in pinko breadcrumbs, served with a Waldorf salad ( minus the nuts for me). This was served alongside a colheita port. Now it was time to desert, or rather pre desert. This was a custard served with fruit and coconut shavings. Very fresh and a really interesting palette cleanser which felt more like a dessert in its own right (and I’m not even a fan of coconut!)
Desert number one was a sugar pear which when cracked revealed real pear pieces, served alongside pear sorbet. The sugar pear was perhaps overly sweet and crunchy, but I thought that it was still a fun element to the meal.
I always think that a true marker of a great restaurant is not that they never make any mistakes – they’re run by humans after all; it’s more about how they deal with those mistakes. When our second desert arrived, the waiter described it to us; rhubarb soufflé served with short bread and almond ice cream. I asked him whether my ice cream had been switched for vanilla at which point he dashed back to the kitchen and I could see in the background the message being conveyed that they’d served me almond ice cream! Someone promptly came back and took both deserts away and at least 3 members of staff apologised for the mix up. Luckily those soufflés were really worth the wait and were a fantastic finish to an amazing meal.
But the meal wasn’t quite finished. A trolley was wheeled over containing a range of petit fours of which there were only two which were unsuitable for me. Not bad stats and I really appreciated that the waitress immediately told me which ones I couldn’t have without me having to ask. Petit fours is one place in the meal where some restaurants slip up a bit and bring over their standard selection which quite often have nuts in so I always take note when a restaurant gets it right.
This was the best one star restaurant I think we’ve been to in a while and would put it as one of my top one stars ever. Thinking back over the meal, there wasn’t a single disappointing course and even with a couple of minor slip ups the service and staff were more than a match for the quality of the food. Aside from the almond ice cream problem, Dean’s first beer took a long time to come. In both cases they recognised that they hadn’t met the mark service wise and without any request from us, left that first beer and our champagne off the bill. We will definitely be recommending this to anyone we know heading to Edinburgh.