Scotsman Review
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  • Ambience - It's important that a restaurant is inviting. We rate the decor, comfort and atmosphere.
  • Drink - Is the wine or cocktail list as exciting as the food, or does it fall short? Same goes for soft drinks. 
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March 15, 2019

Cucina, Edinburgh, restaurant review

The new brunch offering at Cucina is disappointing if you're only in it for the food, says Gaby Soutar

"Footsteps on the dance floor, remind me baby of you...”

I love a bit of Womack & Womack, and the new last-Sunday-of-the-month brunch at this five-star hotel (formerly Hotel Missoni and more recently G&V), features a DJ, pop-pickers.

As he spun this tune, we shimmied into the space, with its pillars plastered in that Timorous Beasties wallpaper that resembles a rococo Tarantino bloodbath. Thus, the maitre d’ led us to a discreet and shadowy booth. Oh well.

As part of the new brunch, you can choose food only for £25pp, or add an additional £15pp for the optional drinks package with Bloody Mary, Bellini and fizz. We were on the wagon, so went for the grub.

Stage one involves a trip up to the buffet. Our waitress signalled starters orders when she slammed our glasses down on the table.

For a brunch that’s variously described as “extravagant” and “sparkling”, it’s kind of disappointing. As well as cereal and juices, there’s a supermarket deli counter selection of smoked salmon, mackerel chunks, salami, chorizo, pastrami, potato salad, chickpea, cauliflower and quinoa salads, cornichons, anchovies, strips of olive oil marinated courgette, balsamic onions, mini Danish pastries, cream cheese-stuffed jalapenos, a few oysters on ice, and loaves of bread.

Pretty good if you wanted to make a sandwich. Still, I don’t get out of bed for less than a couple of crevettes.

Once you’ve snacked, there is an à la carte main course, with breakfast classics alongside the Sunday lunch-ish offerings. My sister went for the beef rib, though made the terrible faux pas of asking for mustard or horseradish.

"Yes, but it’ll be a wait,” snapped our angry waitress, though a nicer one brought a bowlful over relatively quickly.

Anyway, the two thick slices of meat were good, with or without condiments. Sadly, everything else on the plate was basic, with spongy roast potatoes, like rain-saturated, dog-chewed tennis balls, a solid Yorkshire pudding that could probably double as one of the terracotta Roman bowls in the nearby museum, plus a separate bowl of cheese-less cauliflower cheese.

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Our eggs Benedict offering was slightly better, with muffin bases, then thick-cut coasters of bacon, poached eggs with runny middles and a thimbleful of hollandaise on top.

It was OK, but not the Cumberbatch of eggs Benedict.

My main course was the best of the three, with a fillet of poached salmon that, like a biddable magician’s assistant, had been sliced half-way through by a guillotine, though this instrument was hewn from its own beautifully crispy and flattened skin.

It came with lozenges of underwhelming ash-dusted “burnt cucumber”, as well as a salty shellfish bisque to slosh over the top and cauliflower florets in a white sauce.

For pudding, grab another plate and you’re back up to the table, where there are various cakes topped with mousses and creams – a Patisserie Valerie’s closing down sale worth. However, they all just taste like sugar, with very little definition between one or t’other.

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I had what resembled a cheesecake, but was just a crumbly base with a sugar foam on top.

There was also a dark chocolate cupcake case filled with sweet froth and topped by bits of honeycomb, and loads of other similar confections.

Since there were cups and saucers on our tables, we thought coffee or tea might be included. Cue much confusion, though we did get our cuppas in the end – along with the wrong bill.

The other tables looked merry and unconcerned, and I guessed the source of their fun. That extra £15 must be worth it. Oh well, too late now.

Not exactly teardrops on the dancefloor, but maybe a little boohoo over a booze-free brunch.

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Cucina Edinburgh

Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Mile, 1 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh

(0131-240 1666,




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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