St Andrew Square, Edinburgh
The Harvey Nichols Forth Floor Brasserie isn’t really on our radar, but first it pops up in T2: Trainspotting, and then we receive an email promoting their winter menu, offering us three courses and a cocktail for a more than reasonable £22 per head. It seems silly not to take advantage of the offer, so we book ourselves in and, a few days later, rock up for our meal.
We’re seated by the window, which definitely helps set the mood: not only is this where Mark Renton reprises his infamous ‘Choose Life’ monologue in T2, we also have an uninterrupted view of the cityscape and castle. And the free ‘Winter Storm’ cocktail – a Bacardi, lime and ginger concoction – is absolutely delicious. So far, so good.
We’re not let down by the food either. Okay, so it’s a little bit too quick arriving, making us feel slightly rushed. But the service is charming, and we take our time eating without anyone bothering us. And the wine we order (a Bordeaux sauvignon blanc) is cold and crisp, and we’re really rather happy here.
I start with the soup of the day, mainly because I’m cold after the walk here, and it’s a sweet potato soup, which I always like. It’s lovely too, with a fresh, citrusy tang that cuts through the creaminess. Philip has the cured Orkney herring, which comes with blood orange, chicory and a herb dressing. It’s sharp and fresh, a light and nicely textured dish, of which he heartily approves.
Philip’s main is honey-roasted Hawick ham, with grain mustard, baby carrots and mashed potato. This is the star of the day, those crispy flakes of pulled ham simply bursting with flavour. The creamy mash is delicious too. I opt for the gnocchi, with goat’s cheese, beetroot, rocket and lime preserve. This is intensely flavoured, and truly delectable, although it’s perhaps a little heavy after the soup, and I can’t finish what’s on my plate.
I still order a dessert though, opting for the chocolate rice pudding with satsuma and biscotti. This is the only disappointing part of the meal, being rather too runny for my taste, and with the satsuma not quite sharp enough to cut through the bitter chocolate. Luckily, Philip’s rhubarb crumble cake with rhubarb sorbet is marvellous, and he lets me share it: it’s warm, sticky and indulgent, and even comes with a little pot of custard, which is always a good thing.
All in all, this is a very positive experience. Would we come back? I don’t know. The vibe isn’t really us: it all seems a bit corporate maybe. But we enjoyed it anyway, and if you like that kind of thing, then it’s definitely worth checking out.