The Balmoral's Number One restaurant deserves its reputation as one of the top eateries in Edinburgh, finds Claire Gardner

As we sipped ice cold champagne and were asked by a charming waiter not only what type of bread we would like, but also for our choice of butter, we knew we were in for a treat.

Minutes before, we had been seated at the Balmoral’s Number One restaurant, and almost instantly were clutching a glass of bubbly and taking in the lively ambience of the newly refurbished Michelin starred restaurant.

And while we were guzzling fizz and chewing on slices of bread slathered in butter (we went for the slightly salted rather than the unsalted or bacon options), our dapper sommelier Glen arrived on the scene to talk us through our dinner choice and the wines involved.

With our standard approach to food being as sophisticated as “hot and lots of it,” my husband and I decided to leave our nosh choice to the experts and went for the ‘chefs four course seasonal menu’ with matching wines.

And once we had firmed up our selection – the culinary production began.

When I say production – I mean it – in all its theatrical glory – for the next two hours was like having front row seats to our own food and drink show.

So, enter stage right Sommelier Glen, just seconds behind one of the many bustling waiting staff carrying our starters, Balmoral whisky smoked salmon with lemon butter, quails egg and caviar.
The dishes were covered with domed tops which were removed with a flourish, releasing a puff of smoke to be inhaled as part of the experience.

Before we tucked in, our glasses were charged with a delicious Heidsieck Brut Champagne, chosen, Glen told us, to compliment and tease out the ‘smokiness” of the salmon.
And he was right.

Mouthful after delicious succulent mouthful of salmon and all the other colourful bits on the plate, then a slurp of champagne, and so it continued until every last drop was gone.

Next up was Scallop Cock-A-Leekie – hand dived scallops, a crispy chicken wing, with leek and prunes, and our wine, a South African ‘Ataraxia’ Chardonnay.

Now as a lover of a crisp New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, I grimaced when Glen mentioned the C word.

But he urged us to re-think our bias of associating it with a bright yellow heavily oaked beverage and told us the story of how a top- notch Chardonnay is created.

This was not just a meal – it was an education.

And so again the carefully selected wine blended perfectly with the succulent scallops.

If I was being hyper critical we thought the leek was a bit too, well, stringy and slightly difficult to swallow – but really a minor distraction from the whole delicious dish.

Next course was Rose veal sweetbread with Scottish asparagus and Madeira sauce and a glass of rich red, a German wine Malterdinger Spatburgunder which slipped down a treat, then onto the desert, a dark chocolate tart with praline and dark chocolate served with a pudding wine, a sweet yet spicy number which matched perfectly with the richness of the dish.

And as we loosened our belts and indulged in some heavy full-up breathing, the petit four trolley arrived.

Now this really was something rather spectacular. A show stopper in fact.

Designed along the lines of creating an old fashioned sweet shop, a slick looking Willy Wonka type talked us through our options which included chunks of strawberry marshmallow, Raspberry and hibiscus Macaroons and apricot and almond Battenberg, which, washed down with a cup of coffee, was the perfect end to the most utterly delectable meal.

And as we prepared to head off, the cast lined up for the curtain call, sommelier Glen Montgomery, head chef, Brian Grigor, deputy restaurant manager and Emma Lonie, to mention just a few of the stars.

Our dining experience at the Michelin-starred 3 AA Rosette had been exquisite.

The cost, at £75 per person, excluding wine, in my view was a real bargain.

For about the same price of two theatre tickets, you are guaranteed the best seats at your very own culinary production.
As a slightly embarrassing aside, we only spotted the canapés (black pudding, rice crackers and goats cheese) as we were leaving the table but managed to refrain from asking for a doggy bag to take on the train home.

Number One, The Balmoral
1 Princes Street
Edinburgh
EH2 2EQ
Tel 0131 557 6727

Number One, The Balmoral, Edinburgh, restaurant review
Food92%
Ambience88%
90%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (13 Votes)
55%

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