We’ve all done it. Those cheap early morning flights to wonderful far flung destinations seemed such a great idea when you booked online. But when you’re rattling around an airport terminal at night and your only options are to join the stags in whatever version of Wetherspoons is open, or to suck up the overpriced coffee at CostaBucks, you’re not quite so sure.
"The other dishes give great expression to the best of Scottish produce; from Cullen skink to cured salmon, with venison, pheasant and Ayrshire bacon"
There have been times, I’m not ashamed to say, that the pint of fizzy lager with the stags looked pretty damned inviting. Especially after gazing with futile longing at the closed champagne bar, wondering whether sheer force of will could make it open for business.
But the planets have aligned in a strange way this month. The upgrading of Edinburgh Airport has meant that the champagne bar has changed location – and hours. That coupled with someone in our party having a tenuous grasp of the 24-hour clock – ok, yes, me – meant that we had plenty of time to spare at the airport in the middle of the day. I didn’t give that pint with the stag party a second thought. This was surely meant to be.
Flutes and Tails has a mind-boggling number of champagnes on offer. To give you an idea of just how much fizz there is, they have a 15-page menu and the food only starts on page 13.
But don’t let that put you off. Aside from the excellent descriptions within the menu, the staff are approachable, knowledgeable and more than happy to answer any champagne-related questions you might have.
So, while we sat at the marble counter top and watched our fellow travellers grab their meal deals from Boots, we signed up for the champagne tasting tray (£19.95) – three 100ml glasses of the house champagnes set on a paper mat which has accompanying tasting notes for each. A Brut Tradition with an amazing honeysuckle and acacia nose was followed by a delicate pink rosé, before we sipped our favourite, a fresh and citrusy smelling Blanc de Blancs.
But champagne does fair pique the taste buds and I was soon turning towards the back of the menu to look at the food. The short list ranges from croissants and scrambled eggs (served with a glass of champagne for £18) to Royal Oscietra caviar served with sour cream, shallots, capers and potato blini – a snip, I’m sure you’ll agree, at £125 (the champagne’s extra on that one).
The other dishes give great expression to the best of Scottish produce; everything from Cullen skink to cured salmon selections with venison, pheasant and Ayrshire bacon.
We decided to go for one of the two sharing platters on offer, selecting Charcuterie (£23.50) over Seafood (£26).
A silver-handled slate arrived with a selection of venison salami, wild boar and fennel sausage, Scottish chorizo and smoked duck, served with house pickles, piccalilli and wholemeal bread. I loved the wild boar and fennel sausage, while Mr Turner thought it slightly over-flavoured. The Scottish chorizo was far and away his favourite, while I thought it lacked a little something. I concede that this was possibly because I tasted it after the wild boar and fennel. Mr Turner tasted them the other way around, having started on the venison salami – beautifully air cured, almost transparent, slices of game.
We were both agreed on the rest of the platter though. It was obvious that a great deal of work had gone into the smoked duck. It just didn’t bring that much to the party. The piccalilli and mini gherkins that the selection was served with were both fabulous. The bread was lovely but wrong with this selection. Whisper-thin slices of delicately flavoured meats were totally swamped by the doughy slices. Something like a thin oatcake or a rye crispbread could have brought a lot more.
We still had some time before our flight (that pesky 24-hour clock) and so were persuaded by the cheese platter. A selection of five Arran cheeses with chutney and oatcakes (£11.50) and, since it would be rude not to, a glass of the house champagne – the Brut Tradition from earlier (£9.95). The cheeses were delightfully presented, the slices of cheddar still in their distinctive waxes so that they can easily be told apart. A normal Arran cheddar was accompanied by its whisky, herb, paprika and smoked cousins – along with a selection of oatcakes, some nicely spiced rhubarb chutney and two large bunches of red and white grapes.
We didn’t make it through all the cheese, but the same couldn’t be said of the accompanying fizz. Perhaps on our next visit we’ll try the seafood platter – or maybe even the caviar?
Flutes and Tails
open 4.00am until 30mins before last departure