A personal chef, great food and a wonderful setting, the Sheraton's bespoke dining experience is a delight, finds Kayt Turner

PERHAPS it’s because I’m an impatient and fairly slapdash cook myself that I take such a delight watching experts painstakingly perfecting a dish. So when I heard that The Sheraton was offering a bespoke dining experience in the kitchen itself, I was in.

For their Dining at the Pass option, a seven-course tasting menu is constructed to order. After a conversation with the restaurant manager on preferences, allergies and favourites, the chef will create a one-off, individual dining experience just for you.
We were greeted on the day by Poitr, who was to be our personal waiter, and taken through to the kitchen to be seated on the pass itself – the place where every completed dish is placed ready to be served to the tables. We have enjoyed a few kitchen dining experiences, but have generally been at a table set slightly back from the kitchen – and the action. In one restaurant we were even put in another room and had to content ourselves with watching the proceedings via a live TV link. The pass was in the thick of things, but the focus was still on us.
We watched as John, our dedicated chef, put together our first course – parfait of foie gras with pickled baby vegetables. Well, I watched while Mr Turner quizzed John about every aspect of the dish. When I tried to shush him, we were told John welcomed questions, and that the chefs enjoyed being able to chat to diners in this way.

“The chef will create a one-off, dining experience just for you”

We looked on as John then sliced the clingfilmed sausage of pistachio-encrusted foie gras and placed the pickled vegetables around the plate.
We then moved on to our oyster velouté served with white chocolate foam, and orange and herring caviar. The velouté was – as expected – smooth and perfectly rich. It would perhaps have been more suited to being served as an amuse bouche, but it worked well as a taster soup. The herring caviar was surprisingly subtle, but held its own against the smoked oyster.
Next came stuffed lemon sole with a watercress emulsion and lemon purée. Mr Turner thought the lemon too sharp, but in my opinion the clean tang was perfect with the fish, without being too cutting.
As a palate cleanser, the gin and tonic sorbet with a basil crisp was refreshing and a wonderful pause in the meal, with the botanicals of the gin adding pleasingly aromatic notes.
As in most professional kitchens, dishes are more assembled than cooked – with most of the preparation having been done earlier. However, the fillet of Orkney beef was cooked in front of us, in a blue cheese crust, and served with broad beans and pommes dauphine – and it was perfection.
Rather than a cheese course following the beef, the menu called for cheddar rarebit – using the wonderfully rich Blairliath cheddar – served with a salad of bitter leaves and grapes. A short, sharp burst of flavour that reminded you of what a cheddar – and indeed a rarebit – should be.
We’d consumed six courses by now, but we weren’t full, and it came as rather a disappointment to be ushered away from the kitchen, until we were informed that dessert on the pass is always a surprise. Unlike the rest of the meal, it is prepared in secrecy. So following a brief hiatus in the lounge, we were led back to the restaurant in to be amazed.
In the style of The Mousetrap, I’ll keep this secret – especially as the restaurant were so generous with theirs. Throughout our meal, chefs chatted to us as they passed by. Pastry chef Colin created the most amazing sugar sculptures in front of us, while others discussed how dishes were made – from marinating methods to the architecture degrees that came in handy when constructing Christmas gingerbread houses.
The whole meal was put together beautifully. There were many big flavours – from the oyster velouté to the beef with blue cheese and then
the rarebit – which on paper should have had our taste buds begging for mercy, but on the plate were near perfection.
As a treat for any foodie, this is hard to beat. To be allowed that kind of access to a professional kitchen and to have your every question answered is a particularly amazing experience. Even if, like me, your only question is, “Is there any more?”

HOW MUCH?

Bespoke menu £80 per person for seven courses, with an extra £45 per person for matching wines
À la carte £70 minimum per person including drinks

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For the summer months, the Castle-view Terrace is home to The Big Green Egg, a barbecue fuelled by natural charcoal made from oak and hickory. Enjoy the chargrilled flavour of Scotch beef brisket spiced with homemade One Square Gin-botanical rub or an Inverurie beef burger with smoked Cuddy’s Cave cheese. Seafood options include skewers of Thai-citrus-marinated whole king prawns, and vegetarian dishes include marinated tempeh.
There is also a range of informal bites from the barbecue (from £4 to £14) or opt for two dishes served with bread and two side dishes (£14.95 per head). Barbecues are available every Saturday from 1pm-5pm, weather permitting.

 

Dining at the Pass, One Square, Edinburgh, restaurant review
Food 90%
Ambience90%
90%Overall Score

About The Author

Kayt Turner

Picture Editor at the Scotsman and Scotland and Sunday, Kayt occasionally takes time out to enjoy the wonderful food and drink Scotland has to offer.

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