Castle Terrace is considered by some people to be the best restaurant in Edinburgh. I’d been for lunch before (see my review) but never for dinner. So, when my daughters asked where I wanted to go for a meal to celebrate my retirement, I didn’t hesitate and chose to come here with my family.
We decided on the tasting menu – 10 courses (PDF here). The presentation style here is simply to list the main ingredient rather than present a descriptive name for the dish. I really like this simple approach. Given the range of dishes, it doesn’t make sense to talk about starters, main courses so I’ve used the menu titles here.
We started with some interesting looking canapés that tasted as interesting as they looked. The green one was my favourite – A liquid tasting like Caesar salad in some kind of gelatine casing.
Then we were presented with what looked like a small cup of soup. But it wasn’t – the soup was a cheesy sauce with a ‘potato’ at the bottom. Rich intense flavours from ordinary ingredients.
We moved onto the first starter – salmon tartare with what looked like an olive. Again, an illusion – the olive was wasabi. Fresh tasting with a kick from the horseradish.
A single perfectly cooked scallop with a curry sauce – not a combination that I would have imagined but it worked really well.
This was an extra course, because of our celebration. Blue cheese ravioli and intensely flavoured broccoli soup. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a fresh green in broccoli soup.
I’d never had spelt before – it’s an old type of wheat – presented here in a risotto with crispy ox tongue and confit veal heart. This was absolutely outstanding – probably my favourite dish. Melting risotto with deep intense meaty flavours to accompany.
I love fish and this did not disappoint. Perfectly cooked with Asian flavours to accompany.
Pork fillet cooked in the now fashionable water bath so that it is pink and perfectly tender. Accompanied here by fennel and basil gnocchi. This was a very good example but I think this style of cooking is a bit overdone nowadays. Although it’s not so tender, I actually prefer pork cooked with heat.
A rhubarb panna cotta with sorbet and caramelised oats. Again, this was lovely but perhaps the most conventional part of the meal. A friend had visited earlier in the month and praised the caramel soufflé and I guess I was hoping for this.
As it was a birthday meal as well as a retirement meal, the restaurant had made us a small chocolate birthday cake. I thought that this was a really nice touch – but unfortunately, I messed up the photo so no record here.
Tea and coffee
Good coffee as you’d expect but the petits fours to accompany were superb. We were absolutely full but naturally managed to enjoy these.
We didn’t go for the matching wine package as our experience at Kitchin was there was simply too much to drink. Rather, we had a bottle of Spanish Alberino and a French Pinot Noir. The wine was fine but not outstanding. Frankly, the markup on wine here is eye-watering and I always grudge paying so much. But running a Michelin star restaurant is an expensive business and I guess they need to cover these costs.
Overall this was an absolutely superb meal – Castle Terrace’s reputation is really well-deserved. Great service and ambience and, thank goodness, a reasonable level of lighting. I dislike ‘mood lighting’ where you can hardly see what you are eating. Naturally it isn’t cheap – £75 each for the tasting menu but the food was so different and so original that I think it’s worth the money.
Is this the best restaurant in Edinburgh? I’m not sure. I’ve always liked Martin Wishart’s restaurant in Leith but I haven’t been there for a while. But we have another family celebration coming up there and I’ll reserve my judgement till then.