If I had a quid for every time anyone asked me about Edinburgh’s Sushisamba, I’d be able to afford a portion of their wagyu gyoza.
A branch of this Japanese, Peruvian and Brazilian restaurant is on the 10th floor of the capital’s two-month-old W Hotel.
I’m not sure why its presence has caused such a stir. The glamour, I suppose, and the space does look pretty cool.
However, one must not forget about the W Lounge, which is the five-star hotel’s own restaurant and offers all-day dining. It seems to have been rather neglected, in all the fusion kerfuffle.
Quietly situated on the floor below and also accessible via St James Quarter, it has the same incredible views.
For those who’re sick of the city at street level, you can fall in love again up here, as the garret-y rooftops make you think about how you must rewatch Hallam Foe.
We were perched at the end of the space, in their tall yolk-yellow velvet seats. They’d given me the only chair in the entire space that had its back to the view. The story of my life.
As he watched the weather change, we ordered cocktails from their very extensive list, which is inspired by Gaelic myths.
I chose the medicinal Water Horse (£12) with Green Spot Whiskey, apple acid, honeycomb cordial and saline, and my selkie boy went for the ozone-y Seal Folk (£12), which featured Mint Stem Nadar Gin, lime and aromatic bitters. Both were lovely. They know how to muddle.
The starter choices are relatively simple. I went with an assemblage of Cashel Blue, baby gem, mulled poached pear and candied pecans (£12), simply because cheese calls to me like a siren.
Unfortunately, the protein to leaf ratios were not in my favour. This bunged-together salad was 93 per cent baby gem with half a dozen thin and limp slivers of pear and the same amount of sugary nuts, plus a few crumbs of fromage. Lame.
While I sadly poked at the leafy excess, which seemed like the perfect habitat for stick insects, my dining partner had sent back the winter super salad that he hadn’t ordered. However, our server very kindly told us that our cocktails would be on the house because of the mix-up.
The Scotsman’s expenses department will be doing the lambada.
My other half eventually took delivery of his mushrooms on toast (£14) starter, which was a simple thing done well, with a woodland glade’s worth of meaty mushies on two thick slices of seeded sourdough and a few pickled shallot rings.
Our main courses took another lengthy pause to arrive.
“What does the W stand for,” my husband asked, as we stewed. “I dunno, maybe ‘waiting’?” I grumbled.
Perhaps because of our Statler & Waldorf-esque expressions, we bagged another round of gratis cocktails from our kind server, who was swiftly becoming my BFF. I told her to surprise me, and she brought an excellently citrussy whisky iced tea.
Sadly, when my main course did arrive (£27) it was stone cold. That’s a shame, as it could’ve been a decent offering.
There were springy discs of Perthshire venison loin, a spoonful of smooth celeriac puree, a handful of girolles, fat brambles and a meaty whisky-infused jus. All the positive elements were present and correct, bar any heat.
We’d also ordered roasted cauliflower steak (£22), which WAS hot - hooray! - and teamed with a slick black garlic puree and a few strands of watercress. There weren’t any of the billed ‘golden raisins’.
At this point, we were missing carbs. I always feel a bit bereft without tatties, but there are no side dishes on the menu. Maybe January does mean being forcibly weaned off the chips.
Puddings are bonnie. The contrast was extreme between the sweet aesthetics and my bodged-looking starter.
The wild blackberry mousse (£10) was frozen, so more of a semifreddo. It came with piped on yoghurt, like lugworm’s sand casts, plus brambles and various concentrated fruity gels. While, my lozenge-shaped Edinburgh Honey parfait (£10) had a shortbread base, and a butterscotch richness, plus a tiny quenelle of syrupy gingerbread ice-cream.
Fine, but I couldn’t help wondering what they were eating at Sushisamba.
In the W Lounge, it felt like we’d paid for a theatre’s front row seats but had stumbled into a rehearsal.
For now, perhaps you’ll be better off upstairs.