I’m not sure if there has ever been an ACTUAL printing press at this restaurant.
According to their website blurb, in the late 18th century, 25 George Street was home to the novelist Susan Ferrier. Then, in 1840, it seems that a dude called John Oliphant lived at the same spot.
Apparently, the descendants of these two former residents went on to establish Scottish publishing house Oliphant, Anderson and Ferrier. It released classics such as A Story of Antonia Told by the Lady with the Sun Lamp by Jean A Reed; The Story of Tatters (a street urchin) by Hermione, as well as loads of religious books and a series on famous Scots.
The Printing Press, part of The George Hotel, have run with the loose literary link, with an opening party that featured guests including Ian Rankin, Chris Brookmyre and Val McDermid. (I didn’t go, I was busy reading about the adventures of Tatters).
In the rear dining room, where we sat on a Sunday lunchtime, there are dappled walls that, I suppose, are designed to look like the antiqued pages of a book (created with the first case of stippling I’ve seen since Changing Rooms back in 1997).
This isn’t a criticism, this place looks expensive and well considered, from front to back and through to their next door cafe Burr & Co.
"We went for the truffle chips, which are ridiculously addictive"
Owners Principal Hayley Hotels have transformed the tired old Tempus restaurant with the help of Des McDonald (once head chef at London celebrity haunt The Ivy, and the former CEO of Caprice Holdings, who own London’s Holborn Dining Room amongst others).
They’ve also appointed head chef Colin Fleming, formerly of Restaurant Martin Wishart and The Kailyard by Nick Nairn.
From the well conceived menu, we went for the Eyemouth langoustine thermidor tart (£9), as recommended by our super lovely waitress, Hannah, and it was amazingly good. Decorated with the empty upper torso of Mr Claws, it consisted of a cappuccino cup sized puff pastry case, which was filled with chunks of seafood in a mustardy, cheesy, creamy sweet lotion of a sauce. The additional “seafood vinaigrette” had been poured over
Mr Claws’ head, which was a bit pointless, since we weren’t planning on crunching our way through his scalp. Still, gorgeous.
Our roast wood pigeon (£8) had a lot to live up to, but it was an elegant looking option, with neatly rolled tubes of golden and magenta beetroot, and curls of frisée. The meat was beautifully cooked and seasoned, though slightly sinewy, and there were buttons of crowdie and crumbs of crushed hazelnut in the mix.
The spatchcock grouse (£19) had been usurped by a more seasonally appropriate partridge, which came with two confit legs, a juicy red mixture of vinegary sweet and peppery red cabbage and brambles that were as chubby as a pre-hibernation groundhog. Beautiful.
My main of seabass was crispy skinned (£21) and, beneath it, like beasties tucked under a rockpool stone, were a dozen pillowy mussels. It also came with a rich and lemony butter sauce, with samphire and sprigs of what I think was sea aster.
As is the way with so many restaurants these days, carbs are an additional purchase, to be found in the side dishes section.
We went for the truffle chips (£4), which are ridiculously addictive, and the wilted greens (£3.50) were just an excuse to guzzle garlic butter through the medium of chopped cabbage and spinach.
As I’m bulking up for winter, I went out on a sugar high with marmalade steamed pudding (£5.50). It was a neat mound of airy sponge, topped with around half a jar of Dundee’s sugary finest. There was also a little jug of cold Drambuie custard on the side. Better hot? Probably.
The chocolate and salted caramel pot (£5.50) was a mug full of stuff to make your chest as hairy as Tom Selleck – caramel at the bottom, then a layer of ganache and crumbly bits of honeycomb, cream, then choco shavings. And there were two biscotti-like ginger and hazelnut biscuits on the side, just in case you didn’t have diabetes already.
Anyway, fabulous food, genuinely lovely staff and a coffee shop next door, where we got a post prandial flat white (£2.40) and a citrussy tasting espresso (£1.80) to help us past the post-feasting bloat.
This is the sort of place that might just be worth tearing yourself away from The Origin of the Chinese People by the Reverend John Ross for.
Lunch for two excluding drinks - £75.50