One positive thing about home working is not having to field unusual phone calls.
There have been a few interesting ones.
The regulars were from those on holiday to bonnie Scotland. They wanted some activity suggestions, because every newspaper has to double as a travel agent.
Then there was the man that rang the office to ask if I could recommend a carvery.
It wasn’t really my forte, and as I listed all the ones I knew, he became increasingly irate. They weren’t right. Each was met with a “no”.
“Call yourself a restaurant reviewer?” Then he hung up on me. Lovely.
I should have made somewhere up - a fantastic place, every Sunday at 1pm, it’s up Arthur’s Seat, and there’s a strict lederhosen and flippers dress code.
Anyway, it’s the time of year when people want to know about carveries, for their Easter family meet-ups. The phone is ringing off the hook in my imaginary office.
Luckily, the restaurant in this five-star-hotel has just relaunched its traditional Sunday roast, after an extended period of lockdown closure.
It’s £35 for adults, £17.50 for three to 12 year olds, and under threes eat free.
For starters, you order drinks at your table - we went for a glass of Monopolio Durello Spumante, Cantina di Gambellara, Veneto (£8) and Moulin a Vent, Château du Moulin a Vent, Beaujolais (£12.75) - then head up to choose from the spread. This is done to a soundtrack of jazzy tunes, like Abba’s Money, Money, Money, from the live band.
I really thought Covid had rendered the buffet extinct, yet here we are. Of course, like all feasts of this ilk, you get the cornucopia, to appeal to your hunter gatherer greedy ganglion, but you compromise on quality. It’s just the way it is. The limbo pole of my standards had already been lowered a notch.
There is a decent deli counter selection here, with salad, chunks of Feta, boiled egg, olives, sliced meats, pickles and chutneys, tarts, smoked salmon, rollmop, and glasses filled with beetroot hummus and crudites, chicken liver parfait and other goodies.
“It’s a rich man’s world”, to paraphrase Agnetha.
We piled our plates high, especially my husband, who was recovering from a post-cycling hypoglycemic bonk. He was fully intending to fill his hollow legs to the hip, and had brought a couple of prosthetic spares for the overflow.
My highlights were the gravlax, and the ham hock terrine and fig chutney, with the low-light a rather fibrous prawn cocktail. Generally, it was all pretty decent.
The secret is not to go too wild, so you have space for the main event – specifically, a good piece of pink sirloin, which is carved up at the counter.
I couldn’t take a surreptitious photo of it, since the official carver was hovering around as if it was a prisoner and she was the escort. I can see why. If she wasn’t there, I’d probably knock off a slab.
There was also porchetta and a vegetarian Wellington.
The sides are in tureens, and you can help yourself to spring greens, new potatoes, roast potatoes and vegetables, dauphinoise and cauliflower cheese, with a flurry of Yorkshire puddings at the end of the counter, good red wine jus, chunky horseradish sauce and mustard. I tonged a bit of everything onto my plate with a splat and a splotch. I would’ve made a very good dinner lady.
Yes, the cauliflower cheese could have been cheesier, and the dauphinoise creamier, but the meat, roasties and Yorkies were all winners, and we were both kept happy.
The pudding selection seals the family appeal of this place. If I was six, I’d be utterly wired to the moon. There’s a self service ice-cream cart, with eight flavours, sprinkles and cones for the small people, and a chocolate fountain with dippable crispy cakes, brownies, marshmallows, watermelon and pineapple chunks.
There’s also a huge selection of mini desserts - blueberry eclairs, Japanese rolls, tiramisu, honey cake, Victoria sponge, raspberry macarons, lemon meringue tarts, tablet, fudge and more. I took the only hot pudding - an apple caramel sponge - and was very excited to have full control of the copper-coloured caramel sauce. I poured on about a pint.
If your legs aren’t full yet, there are also a few cheeses - blue, cheddar, a zingy goat and brie. They’re all a bit cold and tricky to hack into, but it’s unlikely that anyone will make it this far anyway.
You will not have any room for Easter eggs afterwards. Well, maybe one runty Mini Egg, and that’s it.
I need to phone that grumpy man back. I have an update.
Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa
1 Festival Square
(0131 229 9131, www.onesquareedinburgh.co.uk)
Places to try Nearby
Open for 11 years, this cafe is always a reliable brunch spot, especially when it comes to eggs Benedict, of which they do four versions, including the Hoots Mon with whisky Hollandaise.
If a buffet isn’t your speed, go for the tasting menu at this upmarket restaurant where dishes include the grass fed beef cheek with gochujang, ponzu and black sesame.
Those who need to recover from Easter excesses should try this “healthy eatery”, where you can have a smoothie and a Buddha bowl with falafel, scrambled tofu, butternut squash and other virtuous ingredients.