As much as I love to frequent my local Di Maggios for some safe and tasty Italian cuisine, I do often lust after a more luxurious dining experience. I suppose having lived in the lap of luxury vicariously through the stars of Made In Chelsea, it was only a matter of time before I pursued my own attempt at this style of life.
My sister, her partner and myself were all heading through to Edinburgh to see the marvellous Derren Brown. We went to the Chocolate Lounge in Harvey Nichols for some champagne and cupcakes firstly. It fairly passed the time, and we had a wonderful time people-watching and also feasting our eyes on the preparation of cocktails. Definitely worth a visit!
As a belated birthday treat, I was in charge of choosing the establishment to have dinner - having heard of his culinary skills, Mark Greenaway's new restaurant was my winner.
We booked for 5:30pm, expecting a bustling city centre restaurant - plus it was the only time left to book. Now, to me, a courteous and traditional thing to do is to turn up about 10-15 minutes before your booking. We did this, and the door was locked. A rather unfriendly lady opened the door, and explained that service wouldn't begin until 5:30pm. We were still brought into the restaurant by her, which was good of her.
Inside, I was actually taken aback. Everything was painted the same deep blue, the bar is right at the front door and all the décor was on the back wall. The walls had no art on them, so it seemed a little bland for me. My sister did say she felt that it looked unfinished, and I'm inclined to agree.
We were sat at a table, right at the bar. Considering we were the only diners in the place, this felt really odd and I was uncomfortable. All of the staff were standing at the bar, so literally a foot away from our table. Although music was played, I felt uneasy trying to have a conversation, without the staff hearing unnecessarily. I was beginning to feel a bit downtrodden at this point.
I ordered my standard rose wine, however it tasted like liquorice. The waiter was lovely and exchanged it for a glass of champagne, as requested.
It was a French Brut, very crisp and lovely. Their wine menu lists the wines by origin, which I'm not used to. I prefer to be given a brief description of the wine, so I know whether I'll like it. Connoisseurs will be in their element!
We were offered an amuse bouche: mushrooms, blended with truffle oil and tarragon. I despise mushrooms, however didn't want to waste the complimentary appetiser. Well...
It was delicious. Slightly warmed, creamy and a perfect light starter. It was the consistency of a mousse, so slipped easily down your throat. The tarragon added a nice hint of sweetness, whilst the mushrooms were bold and almost meaty in taste. It really was perfect, plus the log serving plate was a nice touch.
To start, both my sister and I ordered the Loch Fyne crab cannelloni with smoked cauliflower custard, lemon pearls, herb butter and baby coriander...
This was fascinating, and by far the most interesting starter I've ordered. The top, cone shaped dish housed the crab cannelloni, resting on a bed of greens. The white bundle on top of that is the lemon pearls. The crab was beautiful, served chilled. The lemon pearls were zesty and really an amazing accompaniment to the crab and greens. The bowl contained the smoked cauliflower custard. The smoke was trapped underneath using the cone shaped dish, so as you lifted it off, the intoxicating smell of a fresh log fire consumed your nose. There was also a dollop of crab meat in the cauliflower custard. It was truly delicious, with a light and creamy texture. The combination of flavours in this starter were truly overwhelming, and it was definitely an innovative creation.
My sister's partner, Mark, ordered the hand dived Orkney sea scallops, with pomme fondant, tomato jelly, baby herbs and parsley mayonnaise...
Beautifully decorated, Mark thoroughly enjoyed these. The cubes of jelly were strange, but still satisfying and a perfect coupling for the scallops. I wasn't fortunate enough to try one, however I think the photograph speaks for itself... and the empty plate afterwards!
For my main course, I decided to go for a fish I'd never tried before. This was the pan roasted hake fillet, served with lobster tortellini, fennel and dill puree, purple mash, pumpkin, radish, ginger and spring onion broth...
I started by getting a fright at the purple mash, as I forgot that it would be purple. With a slightly thicker, almost rough texture, purple tatties are the way forward; Deliciously creamy, with their own unique taste. The lobster tortellini, I could have had a bowlful of that on its own. There was a lemony taste to it, and only a light fishy afterthought. The hake itself was stunning, with a crispy skin that held all the flavours from the pan, and a flaking, perfectly cooked fillet attached. The broth came separately, but was an amazing coating for the dish. It didn't overpower the fish, it simply brought out the sweetness in it. Basil leaves were used to garnish the plate, and they too were perfect, combined with everything else.
Mark went for the roasted sirloin of Aberdeen Angus beef, served with a braised short-rib, marrow crumble, confit potatoes, shallots and all with a red wine jus...
I've never tried bone marrow, however Mark, a particularly fussy eater, said it was lovely. Very beefy in taste, but with a spongy texture. The beef itself was cooked medium-well done, as requested. This went down a treat, and again the plate was cleared.
I was personally stuffed after all that (perhaps the cupcake was the culprit!) so a dessert wasn't on the cards. In my heart I was dying to try the Manjari chocolate fondant, but it wasn't meant to be. For three starters, three mains and a glass of champagne, the bill came to £107 exactly.
The meal we had was wonderful, however a few small factors lessened my love for Mark Greenaway's. The way we were treated when we arrived, the bare walls, and the general lack of friendliness and atmosphere. There were two young waiters, who were lovely. The two women, however, could do with a lesson in smiling and acting nice. The restaurant may be pricey, but manners are free.
Would I go back? Probably. It's definitely somewhere for a special occasion too - I couldn't eat there every week.
If you are going to Edinburgh, and looking for something a bit more classy, then give it a go. With any luck, the waitresses will smile and there will be a couple of pictures on the wall!
69 North Castle Street
Tel: 0131 226 1155
Wheelchair access: No