It’s il pleut when we head to Le Petit Beefbar.
The weather has gone from sunny-ish to Scottish deluge, otherwise known as a ‘hoots mon-soon’.
I have no brolly, so I join a group of tourists wearing plastic ponchos, who are sheltering in a church doorway, before escaping to this new restaurant, where The Printing Press was located for eight years.
The grand Georgian space, in the five-star Intercontinental The George, has been taken over by upmarket chain, Le Petit Beefbar. This contemporary take on a steakhouse, and its varying sister brands, already has branches in the US, Europe, the Middle-East, Africa and Asia.
There are three in Dubai and the same amount in Monaco.
You could say their average customer is very well-heeled. Not me, in my pleut-saturated M&S sandals.
The beefy business’ founder is Riccardo Giraudi, who is a restaurant concept creator. If his job is anything to go by, it seems that eating venues are moving in two directions. They either promote authenticity or, like this one, something experiential.
You enter the restaurant through the bar, and we tried not to drip over its lovely velvet seats. It is rather gorgeous inside, with emoji-emblazoned Bernardaud plates and an Art Deco-ish font on the menu.
However, there was a sharp intake of breath when I saw the prices. It’s spendy for little old Edinburgh.
The To Share plates range from £9 (for tempura popcorn) to £39 (kobe beef jamon) and they recommend you order three of these to share.
We ignored that, went for two and they were more than adequate as a starter.
Their KFC (£12) option was a long plate of karaage fried chicken, which was addictive, thanks to a Cinzano marinade and crusty batter that had a malty puffed rice taste. It came with a small pot of tingly Sichuan pepper sauce. Yeah, I could pop a bucket of this quite happily.
We also shared three mini wagyu and Angus beef shawarma (£16). They consisted of three light and coaster-sized wheat galettes, a smear of smooth tahini, then shaved and feathery soft meat, tomato and raw red onion.
They are pushing all the buttons here. Salty, savoury, rich, filthy, feral.
The burger bomb (£23) was more of the same. It arrived in a golden dish, theatrically parcelled in a silver and black branded wrapper.
Inside the copper-coloured brioche bun was a charred double patty, pulled beef, bone marrow, cheese, confit and crispy onions, and sliced gherkins. It could be the priciest burger in the Capital, especially after we’d added hand-cut chips (£6) to the order. Mind you, it seemed churlish to talk about cash when my other half was swooning.
As befits their theme, there is a lot of beef and veal on the menu. I’d dodged the veal since, you know, I was at the Royal Highland Show recently and it felt like stabbing the wee guys in the back.
Instead, I went for the miso black beef (£29), which is their take on miso cod. Anyway, it WAS veal. Blame my lack of reading glasses, but I hadn’t read the small print; “8-month milk-fed Holstein, Peter's Farm, Holland”. Quick Google. It’s a bit far away, but looks like a decent place - ethical, animal-friendly. Okay, I’m going in.
This was presented on a copper griddle, with a candle underneath. The meaty slices were velvety, and caramelised along their edges. This dish tasted so decadent, especially when slicked with the accompanying mash, which was served in a cocotte and yellow with butter.
At this point, both of us were feeling rather gouty.
The server recommended their favourite dessert of signature French toast with caramelised brioche, salted caramel sauce and yoghurt ice cream (£18), but we didn’t have the stamina (or cash), and finished our excellent cocktails instead.
Mine was the strong Oaxaca Day (£11), which probably wasn’t designed with Timmy Mallet in mind. It contained Jaral de Berrio Mezcal, yellow tomato and grapefruit soda, citrus sherbet, sesame powder and cardamom bitters. We also tried the mixture of Havana Rum 3 Club, cognac, triple sec and lemon that is the saucily-titled Between the Sheets (£14).
I didn’t want to like this place as much as I did. There’s a certain soullessness to these international chains.
Still, it’s hard to resist the beefy magic. And the shelter from summer’s hoots mon-soons.
21-25 George Street
0131 240 7117