We were supposed to be having lunch but first there was the small matter of getting the Christmas shopping started. This is not quite as bad as you might imagine as, for my mum, there is only one shop in town. As we cross the threshold of Edinburgh's John Lewis, I intone “docking” in a sci-fi voice, one of our little family rituals gently mocking mater's deep attachment to and affection for what has become known to us as The Mothershop.
As she loves practically everything within its hallowed walls, the shopping bit doesn't take very long. And when it comes to the food, I may have found an address she might like just as much as her favourite retail establishment.
As a bibliophile married to a retired typesetter who began his career as a compositor working with hot metal (look it up digital kids) and the mother of two journalists, I figured mum would be predisposed to like the Printing Press Bar & Kitchen. And I wasn't wrong. Everything got the thumbs up, from the decor – mum likes classy art nouveau – to the velvet booths – handy for filling with people, you could comfortably seat eight around two neighbouring pods (or on this occasion shopping bags) – to the food.
"Everything got the thumbs up, from the decor to the food"
I’m not seeing much evidence of the inky fingered brigade – there are no half-drunk bottles of Irn-Bru and copies of the Racing Post lying around – but it turns out the restaurant gets the inspiration for its name from a loose connection to a little known publishing house which once shared its address.
It’s the first venture in Scotland for Des McDonald, former chief executive of Caprice Holdings whose London restaurants include Vintage Salt, Q Grill and Holborn Dining Room at the Rosewood Hotel and its opening last month is part of the multi-million-pound spend currently being lavished on the George Hotel.
They’ve invested in their head chef too, with the appointment of Colin Fleming who has previously rattled pans at the Road Hole restaurant at the Old Course Hotel in St Andrews and Restaurant Martin Wishart in Edinburgh, to name two previous postings.
To start I had my eye on the Eyemouth langoustine thermidor tart with shellfish vinaigrette (£9) but unfortunately so did mum, so I let her have it, with the promise that I could sample a forkful. I kept the fish theme going with the Loch Fyne diver scallops, ink barley, garlic and parsley butter (£11). While my dish was delicious, and I enjoyed the unusual grain bed on which the perfectly cooked scallops rested – wot no pancetta and black pudding? – I had the sneaking suspicion that mum’s starter was superior.
Sadly, I will never know as she scoffed the lot, giggling apologetically when I pointed my fork at her empty plate.
We had each chosen a glass of Vaporetto Prosecco NV (£5.95) to accompany our starters, and stuck with white with a glass of Arc des Anges Vermentino Sauvignon Blanc Vin de Pays d’Oc 2014/2015 (£5.95) to go with our mains. It’s £23 if you fancy a bottle of this most drinkable of Languedoc whites.
We continued our plundering of the ocean with main courses of seabass with Blueshell mussels and sea vegetables (£21) and roast cod with cepes, braised lentils, kale and celeriac (£17.50). Mum enjoyed her seabass, happily truffling out the tasty bits from beneath the piece of well cooked fish. I was also happy with my choice – the winter veg complemented the meaty fish and the lentils were a pleasing addition.
This menu is available all day so if you’re in town with your mum, why not treat her to an elegant lunch? Just make sure you get a fork to the langoustine thermidor tart before she does.
ALSO ON THE MENU
As ladies who lunch, but mainly shop, we skipped dessert and coffee in order to whizz round M&S before mum’s train. But if we had lingered we would definitely have shared a chocolate & salted caramel pot (£5.50), although the lemon tart with Katy Roger’s creme fraiche and marmalade steamed pudding with Drambuie custard would have also sparked interest. Steaks are listed separately from mains on the menu, and are cooked on a Josper grill.
Depending on your appetite (and wallet) choices range from an 8oz flat iron steak (£16) to a 35oz porterhouse (£72). These are served with chips and your choice of Béarnaise, peppercorn sauce, spiced butter or bone marrow gravy. Salads and sides deserve a mention, especially the truffle chips (£4), which come in a metal pail and are skinny, topped with cheese and impressively moreish.
Main courses £12-£21, not including steaks