National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh
We’ve been meaning to try the Tower restaurant for a while, and we’re reminded of this fact when we’re sent an email with an enticing offer, namely the chance to enjoy the Table d’Hote menu (£38 for three courses) with the added benefits of complementary champagne, coffee and petit fours. It’d be churlish to ignore this one.
The restaurant’s location is sublime. It’s at the top of the National Museum of Scotland (incidentally, a location that features prominently in one of Philip’s YA novels, Seventeen Coffins) and boasts a divine view of the Old Town, most notably the castle, resplendent in all its lit-up glory. And the service is spot-on: the waiting staff are all friendly and attentive without being overbearing. It’s an auspicious start.
There are olives on the table and, when we finish them (which we do, embarrassingly quickly), we are immediately offered more. We decline, but appreciate the generosity. A malty, crusty rye bread is similarly devoured; again, we are given the chance to refill our plates; again we demur, because we need to leave space for the meal ahead.
Philip starts with the Inverawe Loch Etive smoked trout, which is served with beetroot gel and lemon crème fraîche. It’s as pretty as a picture and tastes as good as it looks. I opt for the game terrine with pickled pear and walnut croutons. This is superb: densely packed with a range of meats, all distinctly flavoured and utterly delicious.
For his main, Philip has the Borders beef Bourguignon, which comes with button mushrooms, bacon lardons and mashed potato. It’s a rich, sticky delight, packing a real punch. I have the pan-seared fillet of seabass, which – served with crushed heritage potatoes, prawns and saffron butter – is a far lighter, more subtle dish. I really like it; the fish is firm and the skin is crispy. Good stuff indeed!
We share two puddings: the dark Belgian chocolate terrine with Maldon salt and honeycomb, and the Bramley apple and cinnamon crumble with vanilla ice cream. Both are eagerly consumed, and we are – by now – feeling very full.
Still, we make room for the petit fours that come with our coffees (a flat white for Philip and a black decaf Americano for me). Of course we do! The truffles and tablet are tooth-achingly sweet and yummy. And we leave secure in the knowledge that we have had a lovely evening eating lovely food.