Restaurant Reviews

Restaurant Reviews

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Fed up with celebrity chefs drizzling sauces over undercooked pieces of meat? I am!

I regularly dine out and am happy to share my restaurant experiences, and views on food, with you.

Friday, January 03, 2003

Restaurant

Tower Restaurant
Museum of Scotland
Chambers Street
Edinburgh
EH1 1JF

Phone:- 0131 225 3003

Website
www.tower-restaurant.com

Overview

The Tower sits on top of the Museum of Scotland and offers an exceptional view of the castle and skyline of Edinburgh. It specialises in Scottish produce, including steaks and shellfish. The restaurant comprises an indoor rooftop (seating around 100) and outdoor terrace (seating around 70); the restaurant is very popular and you are advised to book (we were told that some people had booked their New Year tables one year ago).

Eva and I, spending Hogmanay in Edinburgh, went there on New Year’s eve. Our booking was for 10:30PM, so we were able to watch the spectacular New Year firework display.

Ambience

The restaurant is elegant and sleek, it eschews the traditional tartan and stuffed animal trophy decorative style favoured by some other Scottish restaurants. Instead the d├ęcor is bright, airy and tasteful; polished wooden floors complimenting the lightly stained wooden table tops. A floor to ceiling window runs the full length of one side of the restaurant, so if you are fortunate enough to have a window seat you have an unparalleled view of the castle. However, should you have one of the other tables you will still be able to view the skyline. We were fortunate enough to have a window seat, I am pleased to say the that the double glazing and heating was efficient enough to ensure that we did not feel cold.

When we arrived at the Museum of Scotland we were greeted by a uniformed commissionaire, who ticked our name on a list and showed us to an elevator. This took us to the fifth floor where we were greeted by the Head Waiter, who had been telephoned by the commissionaire; to let him know we were on our way up.

Rather impressively, despite being New Year’s Eve (with all the potential for people delaying their departure); our table was ready, and we were seated immediately.

The restaurant was full, but close to midnight all the diners and staff put their coats on and stood out on the terrace to watch the fireworks, we were lazy and decided to stay in the warm; but we still had a splendid view. I am rather relieved that unlike other restaurants, at New Year, there was no enforced communal singing or hugging; save for handshakes and “happy New Year” from the staff.

Menu

The restaurant offers a variety of traditional Scottish food (prepared with imagination) including; steaks, lamb shank, oysters, crab, liver, roast roots and fish. Even the bread was a special mustard based recipe!

The wine list is extensive and rather sensibly, in my view, is divided into sub sections offering diners a choice of price brackets.

Service

The service was attentive, very friendly and efficient. Our Kir Royales and menus arrived within a matter of minutes of us being seated.

There were a good number of staff on duty who, even though they were working on New Year’s eve, ensured that orders were promptly and efficiently despatched. Half an hour before midnight we were asked if we would like to order a drink to toast in the New Year; that afforded them a well deserved break, so that they could watch the fireworks with everyone else.

Food

I started with the lentil and ham soup, warm rich yellow (evocative of the season) complimented by thin slices of ham placed in the centre; full marks.

As a main course I had a 12oz fillet steak, rare. This was succulent and tender; seared on the outside, to seal in the flavour, red and juicy on the inside. The steak was served with onion rings, hand cut potato wedges and roasted root vegetables; an excellent choice.

I finished with an orange sorbet, smooth and creamy, which was a little more than I could handle.

Eva started with duck parfait, a very generous rich and succulent portion served with toast. She was very pleased with it.

As a main course Eva had the lamb shank which, in keeping with the imaginative style of cuisine, was served with a portion of lam cutlet and loin of lamb. The shank had been braised to perfection so that the meat literally fell of the bone. The dish came with creamy mashed potatoes. Eva thoroughly enjoyed it.

The overall meal, which included a bottle of Chablis, a bottle of water and two glasses of champagne, came to £121 before tip; exceptional value.

Overall Opinion

I have absolutely no hesitation at all in recommending this restaurant; definitely a cut above some of the other restaurants who offer “traditional Scottish fayre”. We will be dining there again when we return to Edinburgh.

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