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Brasserie Prince by Alain Roux, Edinburgh, restaurant review

The food at Edinburgh's fancy new Brasserie Prince by Alain Roux fails to hit the mark, says Gaby Soutar

Published: July 27, 2018

Every time someone says Princess Street, instead of Princes Street, a scone in the Jenners cafe fails to rise and the One O’Clock Gun doesn’t make anyone jump out of their skin.

It’s a crime against Edinburgh, almost as bad as rubbing Greyfriars Bobby’s nose, an American saying Eeden-borro, or a tourist wondering what that house on the hill is (yes, someone really asked me that).

At least the name of this new place might help as an aide memoire.

It’s a collaboration between owners, Rocco Forte Hotels, and two of the multitudinous Roux crew – Alain and his father, Michel.

They are not to be confused with other members of the influential cooking famille who have also opened eateries in Scotland.

Michel’s brother, Albert Roux, has restaurants Chez Roux at Greywalls and Rocpool Reserve Hotel in Inverness, while the youngest chef in the family, twentysomething Emily Roux (former MasterChef: The Professionals star Michel Roux Jr’s daughter, and Albert’s granddaughter) is at Crossbasket Castle outside Glasgow.

I know, it’s like the Waltons.

Goodnight Albert, goodnight Michel, other Michel.

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By extending the space that was formerly Hadrian’s, adding a seafood bar and redecorating with fancy floral wallpaper and very pretty chairs, they’ve created a chi-chi French bistro.

First of all, let’s talk prices, because entering a five star hotel can be like visiting another country when you don’t know the exchange rates.

Unless money is a trifle, be aware that cocktails are around the £15 mark, you’ll part with £3.50 for “signature popcorn” and a 12.5 per cent service charge is added to your bill.

We needed something slightly more substantial than cinema snacks, and my scallop à la Parisienne (£15) was pleasant enough.

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Served in a shell, it consisted of three fat seafood dollops, all blanketed in a lumpily-textured mushroom and garlic white sauce, dusted with breadcrumbs and iced with a neat horseshoe of burnished piped-on potato, for a high-falutin’ comfort food experience. And there was a single sprig of parsley on top.

Just so, like Adam’s fig leaf.

The gnocchi gratin, topped by a few token cherry tomatoes and some rocket, and made with cheese pâté à choux and bechamel (£8) was equally like pulling on an old pair of sheepskin slippers, with clouds of softened pastry that had been absorbed by the oven-blistered white sauce.

On Sunday, the daily Grandmere’s Special is boeuf bourguignon (£17.50) and, though it’s not my go-to summer dish, I went for that. It featured blocks of salty and soft meat in a thyme-infused gravy, whole shallots, button mushrooms, and a tile of boulangere potato.

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Rustic, apart from the crouton sail, with its longest edge plastered neatly with chopped parsley. Good old nana and her tricks.

Our other main was Armoricaine monkfish with Camargue wild rice (£20) in a rich and saffron loaded jus, with three dollops of fish and a fistful of nutty carb. I guess it was the only one of our dishes that had felt suitably lush, rather than homely.

I’m a big fan of a boozy puddings, so maybe I should have gone for the rhum baba bouchon (£7), as there was an absence of the billed kirsch with the iced vacherin plombieres (£7.50).

Instead, I had a plain ice-cream studded with candied fruits, plus a few blobs of cream, strawberries and a pair of biccies. Hmm, maybe Napoleonic desserts just ain’t my bag.

A ramekin of dark chocolate mousse (£8) was also rather ordinary, with two gavotte biscuits on the side and the oddly shop-bought looking decoration of chocolate balls. We ate it without consigning it to memory.

Anyway, what with the duck-egg blue banquettes and brass finishes, I was promised a fancy old time, and this set piece of a space doesn’t quite deliver.

And I’m not just saying that because I couldn’t justify the price of a cocktail.

Brasserie Prince by Alain Roux

The Balmoral, 1 Princes Street, Edinburgh

(0131-557 5000,

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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