Tony Singh at Apex Grassmarket

Grassmarket, Edinburgh

12/04/16

The Apex hotel is an unprepossessing location for a meal, despite the always startling view of the castle from the plate glass windows. It’s got that sterile vibe that so often permeates hotel restaurants: too corporate, too samey-same.

But Tony Singh’s new restaurant here has garnered a lot of press attention, and we’re keen to see if it’s as interesting as they say, so we meet up with a couple of friends and take our seats with open minds.

To be honest, it’s all a little bit odd, and it takes us a long time to decide what we are going to eat. It’s called a sharing menu, but the dishes, in the main, don’t seem like things that are easy to share. It’s called ‘fusion’ too, but it’s not well fused. “Confusion,” mutters one of our companions, and she’s not far wrong.

Still, the food when it arrives is mostly very good indeed. There’s Vuhra (a spiced lamb kebab with mint & coriander sauce and tamarind dressing), which – once we’ve gone through the rigamarole of cutting it into four – Philip and I adore, the spicing intense and packing a real punch. Our friends are not as keen, but they’re not fans of red meat anyway; if you are, you’ll like this one. The Haggis Pakora are delicious too, and easier to share. They’re robustly flavoured, and accompanied by two contrasting dips. We all enjoy the BBQ Pork Doughnutfilled with sticky pulled pork, sweet with maple syrup, smoked bacon and a whiskey glaze. It’s possibly the best thing we eat all night, but it’s definitely one to consume in moderation: I don’t imagine they’re recommending this much fat and sugar in any health clinic.

We try the Tiger Salad with Cured Salmon too; it’s fresh and zingy, an excellent contrast to all the deep fried food we’ve been indulging in. The Fish Taco with Crema and Loco Salsa is a similarly light, and wonderfully flavoured dish. Less impressive are the Fish Balls (poached & fried with Manong’s Grill Restaurant’s famous sauce). The sauce is indeed very tasty, but the fish balls themselves are oddly chewy, and somewhat unpleasantly textured. These are the only real ‘miss’ of the night, and can probably be forgiven among so many ‘hits.’

We have dessert too, sharing Churros and Sliders; the former are unexpectedly dense while the slider, with its chunky brownies and intense tasting ‘monkey blood’ is better, but I can’t help wishing I’d ordered the more whimsical Tuck Shop Float, which would have been a lighter end to what is actually a rather heavy meal. We can’t complain about the price though – £35 per head for seven sharing plates, four desserts and several rounds of drinks is good value for money, especially in the heart of the city.

All in all, we’re glad we’ve tried this restaurant. The food is great. But I’m not sure it’s somewhere we’ll come again; it’s all a bit lacking in cohesion and atmosphere.

3.9 stars

Susan Singfield

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