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. 
  • Food - We judge dishes on flavour, but also use of produce, cooking skill and presentation
  • Service - The staff and pace of a meal can make or break a meal out.
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July 14, 2019

Montpeliers, Edinburgh, restaurant review

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Not for nothing is breakfast said to be the most important meal of the day. What could be finer than that first cup of coffee, or biting into freshly buttered toast?

However, better than staying at home in your pj’s, munching a bowl of cereal is the joy of a social brunch.

Back in the nineties, when nights out meant drinking and dancing till dawn and not a concert at the children’s school, North London, and Crouch End in particular, was my manor.

My circle of friends included photographers, designers, advertising types, sound engineers, musicians, students and other bohemians. Whole weekends could be lost to hedonist pursuits.

An important ritual was a Sunday catch up at our local greasy spoon. It provided the cure to the worst hangovers and a place to regroup for the coming week of work. It was also a way to check everyone was safe, and discover if there was any gossip.

Our local then was called The Oval Platter – affectionately nicknamed The Splatter. It sold amazing fry ups, washed down by mugs of tea.

Evening Standard writer Andrew Martin mourned its passing in 2000 when it morphed into a bistro, so me and my tribe were not alone in enjoying its unique charms.

In search of the ultimate Edinburgh petit déjeuner, we are visiting a Bruntsfield institution.

Montpeliers, which has been around for coming up to 30 years, is a European-style cafe-bar, busy and bustling. It’s best to book in advance: the spontaneous nature of the gathering is lost but you do get a seat.

It is an attractive friendly place, like many of the customers, and food is available all day. It has a great cosmopolitan vibe, the interior is filled with sounds of chattering and laughter, punctuating the background music.

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Montpeliers was opened in 1992 by David Wither and pals, and it is now part of a successful stable of businesses including Tigerlily, East Side, Lulu, Indigo Yard, Rabble and Candy.

Sunday service is tight and polished with friendly staff coping admirably.

Customers can choose to continue their partying with fizz or other alcoholic brews to accompany brunch. I’m driving so it’s the non-alcoholic version of a classic humorously titled “Bloody shame” for me.

With medium spicy tomato juice, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce, celery salt, pepper and a wedge of lemon, all that was missing was the alcoholic warmth spreading down my gizzard.

Alternatively, I could have tried the gin-fuelled Bloody Bull, Monty’s Ultimate Bloody Mary featuring Ketle One vodka, and a red wine float.

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Spicy Bloody Scotsman with Copper Dog whisky, jalapeños and a red wine anyone? Or there’s a Bloody Maria with El Jimador Reposado tequila, tomato juice, and red wine.

Sound appealing?

Even worse, Bloody Hogger featuring bacon-infused Stolichnaya vodka (is that even a thing?) or the Bloody B’s; Bacardi Carta Blanca rum, Belhaven Best, with balsamic vinegar reduction... If you ask me, they all sound bloody disgusting, and I’m still not quite sure why I ordered mine, although it counts towards one of my five a day.

To be clear, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the drink, but I think I need to be hungover to fully enjoy.

The key draw here is the Montpeliers all-day breakfast. A full Monty consists of chargrilled chicken, pork and herb sausages, bacon, eggs, potato scone, minute steak, Heatherfield haggis, black pudding, tomato, mushrooms and baked beans, with tea or coffee, toast and orange juice.

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Or the not so gluttonous Monty – sausages, bacon, eggs, potato scone, haggis, black pudding, tomato, mushrooms and beans.

Sadly they don’t offer a vegetarian fry up, so thwarted I was forced into a hasty rethink, and a light lunch choice of chargrilled courgette and Buffalo mozzarella fettucine.

It sounds sublime, with slow-roasted cherry tomatoes and rocket pesto promising so much in terms of robust flavours but sadly, it delivered little.

My companion lucked out with French toast and crisp Ayrshire bacon with a mini bowl of maple syrup. A soya latte completed an elegant choice.

We also shared a Mexican breakfast tortilla stuffed with beans, tomato-based sauce and two fried eggs and topped with cheese. It was a filling option, as it included avocado slices and tomatoes.

Then we go stateside for pancakes with bananas, creme fraiche and maple syrup. On this messy plateful, everything is cooked but all the constituent parts are cold. “Underside of a slug” is how a slice of my fruit was described, although weirdly the entire plate was demolished.

Finally, we eat a plain scone with jam and cream. We’ve stayed so long we’re almost into afternoon tea.

Although we have rediscovered upmarket Bruntsfield, travelled the world and time zones in search of the ultimate breakfast platter, in the words of Bono, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.


(159 -161 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh, EH10 4DG)
Tel: 0131-229 3115,

Catriona is a freelance writer based in the Scottish Borders, and a nominee for Food and Drink writer at this year's Scottish Press Awards.
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