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The Register Club, Edinburgh, restaurant review

For good food and gorgeous cocktails, be a member of The Register Club in Edinburgh, says Gaby Soutar

Published: November 30, 2018

Being a Brownie was a total success for me, as I was awarded a tea-making badge.

Since then, apart from brief membership of the Tufty road-crossing one, I haven’t been a member of any clubs.

I’m not sure if visiting this place – part of five star hotel The Edinburgh Grand, which also houses Hawksmoor and was once the Royal Bank of Scotland HQ – counts.

Their concept is, I suppose, loosely modelled on the global success that is Soho House, though you don’t have to join or pay a membership fee. Not really a club at all then, apart from the fact that you’re asked to book, and there is a list of rules, emailed to you when you make a reservation.

These include not using your mobile phone to make calls, take photos or play music or videos – a small price to pay to hang out in such a beautiful space, with its wood panelling, cornicing, and parquet flooring.

Though, like being in the cinema or library, there’s always someone who ditches the etiquette. In this case, three young Made in Chelsea types, who played videos on their phone, took photos with a flash and told the waitress that whisky is actually spelt with an “e”.

Best ignore them and focus on the food and drink, which is looked after by Edinburgh’s Bon Vivant Group (of the eponymous bar and Mexican eateries El Cartel).

I kicked off with a fantastic tawny hued cocktail – the abeja rosado (£12), with Don Julio Blanco Tequila, Sauternes, apricot, acidified grapefruit, white pepper tincture and smoked salt.

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When it comes to the menu, it’s a little confusing, with Sharing Plates, and some presumably bigger stuff.

We weren’t sure how much to order, so went for four of the little things and two larger, as if we were in a tapas joint. The waitress looked slightly shocked, and said something about bringing an extra table over. But, you know, in for a penny.

We enjoyed the crispy squid tempura (£10), with various limbs and bodily hoops in a hay coloured batter, and an onsen of zesty ponzu dressing. The black sesame seed flecked tian of crab and avocado (£8) contained a blitz of lime amongst the mashed seafood and avocado cubes, to feather duster the internal cobwebs away.

It was topped with radish petals dusted with a chilli and lime powder that could double as sinus clearing snuff.

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Fishy item number three – the smoked salmon (£12) – wasn’t quite what was expected. There wasn’t any of the billed “salmon caviar” or “tartare”, only tongue thick pieces of spume fresh salmon, shards of crostini, a pile of vinegar basted white onion and radish. Still, we ate the lot.

Our beetroot tartare (£10) was an interesting combo – a magenta pile up of the root vegetable and raspberries, with raw milk feta, squash, as well as a nutty crumble. Fresh.

We’re glad we’d reneged on agreeing to everything coming together (only one table required after all), and that our croque madame (£15) was served as a main instead.

This was a sarnie sent from Shangri-La – layers of toasted brioche, sticky melted cheddar, velvety Mornay sauce, thick slices of smoked ham and a perfect fried egg, with a yolk like a blood moon (oh, and some salted skinny fries on the side).

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I feel that my dining partner took about 65 per cent of this, so we’re off to couples counselling next week.

Our lobster bisque (£12), though a surprisingly small portion, was also a winner, with an island of meaty tail bits and a russet soup that was rich and fragrant with lemongrass, ginger and Thai basil.

After our over-ordering debacle, we only needed a single dessert – the cheesecake (£6), a disassembled affair, with a glass of creamy white chocolate infused crowdie topped by crispy bits of ginger biscuit, poached rhubarb and raspberries.

For a place that’s probably more about booze, with a vast whisky (and whiskey) list, the food here isn’t an afterthought.

If I could be part of the club that serves the best croque madame in town, I’d be happy to hand in my Tufty Club membership.

The Register Club

Floor 4, The Edinburgh Grand,  42 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh

(0131-230 0571,

Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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