27 October 2013

Number One at The Balmoral

BASED IN THE basement of Edinburgh’s Balmoral Hotel, Restaurant Number One has proudly held a Michelin star for 12 successive years. 

Dressed in our Sunday best, we were caught by a nasty gust of wind and shower of rain as we gratefully escaped into the hotel from Princes Street.

The warm surroundings were most welcome as the maître d took our coats and welcomed us to the restaurant.

Spacious and tastefully decorated, I have to say I think it’s one of the most exquisite dining rooms in the city.  The rich, lacquered walls and quirky artwork almost lends a French-ness to it and I especially like how it’s carpeted, as it really keeps the volume of clattering feet down. 

A lovely champagne aperitif was a perfect way to celebrate my *cough* 30th *cough* birthday and made us forget the awful weather conditions outside.

After devouring our wonderfully presented amuse bouché, it was starter time and I went for scallops with parsley root and cauliflower (this dish was kindly created for me due to my nut allergy and is different on the menu). 

Perfectly cooked, sweet scallops worked in tandem with the earthiness of the cauliflower and I particularly enjoyed the little pickled onions dotted about the plate.  I’d never had parsley root before but will definitely look for it again.

Sarah selected partridge with cep tortellini and lapsang consommé .  You could see the filling inside the little tortellini as it was so thin and the consommé was aromatic and crystal clear. The partridge was succulent and the woody flavours of the other elements complimented the game to a tee.

I had seen a picture of the dry aged Orkney beef on head chef Billy Boyter’s Instagram feed and I knew I was ordering this before I even set foot in the place. 

There was a superb flavour to the beef and the cooking of it certainly did it justice. The seasoning was bang on and the little crispy onion rings added crispiness to the plate and were a notable highlight. 

There were generous shavings of truffle in there too, which are always welcome and a silky smooth puree just to tie it all together.

I had toyed with ordering the turbot with shellfish linguine, parsnip and sea aster so was glad Sarah did so I could pinch a taste!

The turbot was moist, flaky and an excellent piece of fish.  The pasta was light and the caviar added a slight saltiness to it.  The parsnip puree added a slight sweetness to this accomplished dish and the seasoning was perfect yet again.

The service really stood out for me on a previous visit here and i was pleased that it did again this time around.  I’ve read a few reviews saying this restaurant is snooty and ‘for rich bankers’ - what a load of nonsense. 

The waiting staff were extremely professional and showed sound knowledge of the menu.  They chatted away with real interest and genuineness too. OK, service did slow at points but, unlike several other Michelin restaurants, there wasn’t 46 waiting staff tripping over each other to lay a spoon down and that’s a definite plus for me.

Dessert for me was bramble parfait with apple, cinnamon and fromage blanc.

Beautifully presented, it looked like I was eating my way through a dish Willy Wonka had created.  

The amazing little cinnamon donut brought a warm contrast to the parfait and fromage blanc elements while the berries brought a sharpness. 

I didn’t really think the snow added anything to the dish bar a visual aspect but it was a light and most enjoyable dessert none the less.

To finish, Sarah went for the cheese course.  Not much you can say here really other than there was a good range of quality cheeses on offer and the accompaniments, the raisin bread in particular, married well with the cheese.

I’d particularly like to praise the team for going out of their way to cater to my nut allergy.  Often restaurants, even at this level, neglect to really cater to my allergy properly, which can make you a little nervous about the whole experience.

The food matched the excellence of the service in one of Edinburgh’s finest dining areas.  The seasonality, execution and meticulous attention to detail show why a Michelin star has shone over the restaurant for 12 years.   


0131 557 6727

Open daily from 18:30-22:00            
Number One
The Balmoral
1 Princes Street

Number One on Urbanspoon

11 October 2013

Food World News


 From sea to plate: fresh oysters from The Grain Store
My most memorable meal has to have been at The Grain Store on Victoria Street.  A friend of mine billed this restaurant as 'the best kept secret in Edinburgh' and I would have to agree.  

A two course lunch at this well-established restaurant is amazing value at just £12.50 and truly is modern Scottish cooking and hospitality at it's finest.  Even J.K Rowling herself paid a visit recently.

I  enjoyed a superb dinner at Purslane towards the end of September and found the food and service just as good as my previous visit (see previous review), with a great rabbit dish being a particular highlight.

This for me is still of the best value restaurants in the city and it's great to see the restaurant go from strength to strength. 

On The Menu...

I'm off to Barcelona next week to sample the culinary delights of the city.  I'm particularly looking forward to visiting Formatgeria La Seu, a Spanish cheesemongers run by Kirkcaldy-born Katherine McLaughlin.  It comes recommended to me by Mr. Iain Mellis himself so i look forward to sampling some of Spain's finest cheeses and picking Katherine's brain on all things cheese.

I'm having dinner at Restaurant Number One at The Balmoral hotel towards the end of the month and having seen a lot of chef Billy Boyter's dishes via his Instagram, can't wait to actually get stuck into some actual grub!

In Other News...

Matteo Ascheri is hosting a wine tasting dinner at Field on October 30th.  The four course menu designed by the Field team will pair up with wines from his cellars in Italy with tickets priced at £47.50.

I caught up with Rachel from Field who told me a little about the event:

'Matteo will be speaking about his wines, while the kitchen will be cooking food to match. Richard (head chef) and i both really enjoy wine tasting dinners and think Field will be a great place to host one of our own because of the restaurants small and intimate surroundings.

'Hopefully It'll be the first of many!'

The Wine Gang are back in November at the Assembly Rooms after a sell out appearance last year.  Tickets to this fantastic event are priced at £20 or, for a limited time only, £12 from here http://www.wineganglive.com/edinburgh.php (see code).

Tickets include tastings of over 300 wines priced from £6-£300 and a Wine Walk with one
of the gang.  For more info click on the link above.

Mark from the artisan cheese producing Cooleney farm will be making an appearance at I.J Mellis shops across Edinburgh next Friday and Saturday (18th and 19th).

He will be hosting a free tasting and answering questions on this excelllent camembert/brie style Irish cheese.  You can catch him at the Morningside branch on Friday morning, the flagship branch on Victoria Street that afternoon and in Stockbridge on the Saturday.  

I've been doing a lot of cooking from this amazing garlic from Cadours in France.  Widely regarded as the finest garlic in France, this garlic will keep up until January.

I've made a delicious garlic oil, confit garlic, honey roast garlic and garlic soup to name but a few and the quality is second to none.  It's available from I.J Mellis on Victoria Street while stocks last.