I have often tramped past The Magnum on my way home from work, peering wistfully through the steamed windows to the crowded interior.
Pub, restaurant, wine bar? It’s always been a mystery to me so one rather drizzly spring Saturday I decided to find out.
We turned up terribly early in the hope of snagging a table, and it was a good job, as at 6.30pm on a Saturday night the place was already bursting at the seams.
We squeezed into a tiny table near the bar and were immediately offered a wine list by the attentive staff.
So far so good.
The list was long, with lots of old and new world options but in the end I simply went for the house white wine, which turned out to be a perfectly crisp Californian Cyrus.
Glass in hand, I had time to survey the interior which is pleasingly dark and elegant, with low lighting apart from some glimmering fairy lights at the windows that adds a convivial tone to proceedings.
I was absolutely starving so fell on an approaching basket of poppy seed bread with enthusiasm.
Many people make the mistake of skipping the bread but I think it can be a good indicator of things to come.
Delicious, warm claggy bread shows the restaurant really cares about winning you over, whereas a modest basket of rapidly hardening French stick proves the opposite.
The Magnum’s offering fell somewhere in the middle, tasting slightly on the dry side, but my hard-and-fast bread rule stumbled here as that was probably the only lacklustre thing about the menu.
The restaurant is firmly set on serving up an array of imaginative but classic dishes using mouth-wateringly fresh Scottish produce.
I started with a healthy portion of Loch Awe trout paté (£6.95), roughly cut and served on some nicely crunchy flat breads to give it a bit of oomph.
The whole thing looked lovely and the rich and smoky taste of the trout did not disappoint.
My partner had already decided to go big for his main course so he went for a pea, mint and wild garlic soup with creme fraiche (£4.95), which was so spring green and fresh that I was immediately struck with envy.
The list of mains is offers some excellent-looking meat dishes, and I deliberated for a long time over the steak or the venison before eventually choosing neither.
My tasty trout starter had only whet my appetite for fish so I opted for the pan fried salmon which was rather eccentrically topped with meringues, drizzles of jus and pak choi (£16.95).
Despite my apprehension about the rogue meringues, it was utterly delicious.
The fish was perfectly cooked with a crisp skin and combined with a mixture of tart and sweet flavours that tingled the taste buds no end.
My partner chose the Buccleuch haggis, neeps and tatties (£10.50) for his main, which seemed to be pretty good but not quite up to the dizzying heights of my meal.
I’m lucky I didn’t get a swift kick under the table for banging on about it.
The portions seemed a reasonable size but I found myself too full to contemplate the excellent array of desserts.
A little part of me wanted to weep as I passed over the cranachan cheesecake (£6.50) which I heard a neighbouring table exclaiming over.
We were in a rush so it was just a flat white and a latte to finish before we headed off into the night.
The Magnum is not a cheap eat but it packs a punch beyond its price and offers a delicious meal with oodles of style.
While it has a bar, the focus was firmly placed on dining so go for the full works or you will definitely feel left out.
It has a nice feeling of being tucked away from the hustle and bustle on the corner of Albany Place and Dublin Street, making you feel like a local or at least an awfully clever tourist.
Of course it is actually one of the worst-kept secrets on the Edinburgh food scene and if they keep things up that will only continue.
The Magnum Restaurant and Bar
1 Albany Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3PY