Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh
Six years ago and still fairly new to life in Edinburgh, we took advantage of a special offer we found online and booked ourselves a ‘boozy snoozy dinner’ at the Bonham Hotel. We were blown away by the venue, the quality of the food and the great value. So when, more recently, we spotted a Black Friday deal at the same hotel, this time for a ‘boozy snoozy lunch’, we decided it was an offer we couldn’t pass up.
As we take our seats in the dining room, we reflect on everything that’s happened since we were last here. Edinburgh now feels like our home and, over those intervening years, we’ve survived some turbulent events – the pandemic being just one of them. The Bonham is exactly as we remember it: a warm, welcoming haven in a central (but surprisingly quiet) neighbourhood. The walls are hung with the same original oil paintings, there’s a soft murmur of conversation, and the staff are still as polite and efficient as ever.
First for the boozy bit – a bottle of Chilean sauvignon blanc, which we make a start on while perusing the menu. For starters, Susan has the heritage carrot panna cotta, quite the prettiest dish you could ask for and absolutely bursting with flavour. It’s accompanied by pink pickled ginger, salted baked carrots and puffed black rice. I opt for the Simpson game venison carpaccio, succulent slivers of ‘melt in the mouth’ meat adorned with beetroot. leek ash, pickled shimeji mushrooms and red vein sorrel. We’re afraid that the current national shortage of fresh fruit and vegetables might have a negative effect, but these fears are quickly assuaged. This is an inspired beginning.
For the main course, Susan samples the stone bass, a generous slice of perfectly cooked fish, presented on a laksa broth and topped with seaweed tapioca. The laksa would be better if it were more robustly spiced, but that’s really our only criticism. I keep things traditional and choose the Ayrshire pork, a mouthwatering chunk of belly meat with a gratifyingly crispy layer of crackling on the top. It comes with ham hock, kohlrabi, spiced compressed apple and hispi cabbage. The apple in particular is an inspired touch, the sharp flavour cutting through the meatiness with ease.
We also share a side order of hand cut chips sprinkled with rosemary scented blackthorn salt. ‘Ah,’ you may say, ‘chips are just chips,’ but these are perfection – crispy exteriors, soft, buttery insides, and completely irresistible.
For pudding, Susan enjoys a delicious chocolate fondant, which is rich and indulgent, accompanied by crispy honeycomb and zesty orange sorbet. I cannot resist the glazed lemon tart, again as pretty as a picture, and served with Scottish raspberries and Normandy créme fraiche. Both puddings are utterly delectable.
Other things may have changed in six years but this is still a perfectly executed menu. Even at the full price of £35 per head, it represents extraordinary value for money and, on the Black Friday deal we’ve booked, it’s an absolute steal. I can think of many venues in the city centre charging twice as much with half the flair of what’s on offer here. I’d heartily recommend The Bonham to anyone in search of somewhere to enjoy a special meal.
Here’s to the next time!