If right now you could gaze upon my complexion, you’d probably note how untroubled by the ravages of time it is, how peach like and bursting full of moisture I obviously am and just how damn youthful I look. If I then told you that I turn 40 at the end of this week, and I recently spent three days in Edinburgh, celebrating my fourth decade on the planet by eating pretty much everywhere, your jaw would no doubt hit the floor. You’d definitely have had me pegged at 18.Yeah. But no, people, seriously I’m at least halfway dead. Party!
But that’s enough about me, lets talk about you. What do you think about me? (leave comments). No seriously, moving on. By far the best meal I ate during my stay in Edinburgh was also the most reasonably priced. This aspect impressed me no end. The restaurant was The Castle Terrace and I am declaring myself completely smitten.
Located, strangely enough, on the end of a Terrace in the shadow of Edinburgh castle, the Michelin starred restaurant is part of Tom Kitchin’s Scottish empire, with Dominic Jack, the head chef.
I’d booked for lunch, before flying back to London later that afternoon and only really had my eye on the set lunch menu, the a la carte being a bit more robustly priced.
The dining room itself had a nice feel to it with a warm, relaxed vibe.
A selection of rather interesting looking canapés came first. Salt cod barbajuan (let me just say now, I had no frigging idea what a barbajuan was, it turns out it’s Monaco’s national dish and is a deep fried savoury pastry) this example was matt black and spiky, almost fetishist in appearance and incredible to look at. It was also absolutely delicious. Next a perfectly miniature burger flavoured with caper and cumin which was also delicious. Finally a ‘Caesar Salad’ in the form of a spherical green jelly, which I had been advised to eat in one bite. It impressed me no end that the flavour that flooded my mouth as I bit into it was indeed the Parmesan, crouton, lettuce, anchovy and creamy dressing taste of the classic salad. I’ve got to say, these were bloody awesome canapés, some of the best and most inventive I’ve eaten anywhere. I was really sitting up and taking notice now.
Chewing on some excellent bread and butter, brought to the table in a tartan bag arrangement, designed to keep it warm (it did) I couldn’t wait to see what was coming next.
An appetiser billed as ‘baked potato with cheese’ came next. Consisting of a potato veloute with a dusting of savoury spices on the top. I dipped in with my spoon and broke into a deep fried molten ball of cheese hidden at the bottom. Lovely.
I rarely ever order squid in a restaurant. I find it’s often pretty bland and ridiculously easy to cook badly, but I went for it thinking this would be a real test of how good the cooking was.
Look at the photo, how beautiful is that for a plate of food? What I initially thought was a risotto underneath the candy-striped cylinder of squid stuffed with a fish mousse was in fact tiny pieces of squid. The whole dish was so elegant and so incredibly impressive in its construction I just found myself staring at it. The spell broken with my fork plunging into the cannelloni and dipping it into the accompanying garlic and parley sauces, I’ve got to say not only was it a looker, but it tasted amazing. Yep and as you’d expect the squid was perfectly cooked too.
A pithivier of ox tongue with autumnal vegetables followed. As with the previous dish, I spent a bit of quality ‘me’ time just admiring the incredible precision of the pastry work and the dish in general. It was so perfect it almost felt a shame to eat the bloody thing. Suppressing any feelings of guilt, I waded in, carefully constructing a forkful consisting of a bit of everything, as is my way. Yeah, it was amazing. The deeply savoury ox tongue filling, combined with the mash and the vegetables was basically perfect autumn comfort food tarted up and refined beyond belief. I loved it.
Locally foraged sea buckthorn featured on a cheesecake served with chocolate sorbet. As with everything else, the presentation was incredible but this was probably the least impressive course I ate. I wasn’t entirely convinced by the combination of chocolate and sea buckthorn, I thought the sharpness of the berries was slightly overwhelmed by the richness of the chocolate flavours. That’s me being finicky. I don’t mind saying it was still good and I ate the lot.
With coffee accompanying petits fours and a tip, my bill came to £39, which for that standard of cooking felt almost ridiculous. I’d had a bit of an excess of booze the night before, so this didn’t include any alcohol, I stuck with water.
I bloody loved The Castle Terrace. As I said previously I thought it was by far the best meal I ate in Edinburgh. The service was pitch perfect, not too friendly, not too stuffy and formal (Restaurant Martin Wishart take note) the food was undoubtedly amazing. So elegant and beautifully cooked but with really inventive and interesting touches. I honestly couldn’t have been more impressed. It’s easily one of the best lunches I’ve eaten this year; in fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s up there as one of the best lunches I’ve eaten full stop. That the set lunch menu is such an incredible bargain just makes it that much more impressive.
If you’re in Edinburgh, you must eat here. No question.
The Castle Terrace
33/35 Castle Terrace
Telephone: 0131 229 1222