Last Friday morning Mr. Boo and myself boarded a plane bound for Edinburgh. We were heading there with 11 of our friends to celebrate my 30th birthday. A few months earlier Mr. Boo sent out a sneaky text to see if people would be interested in taking a little trip to join us for dinner, when the resounding response was yes he revealed his plans and so we started organising together.
We had been to Edinburgh on two previous occasions. Both times we dined in Rhubarb in Prestonfield House and were equally impressed with both the surroundings and the food. When Mr. Boo revealed his idea to mark my 30th I jumped at it. I’ve never been one for big parties or being the centre of attention so a nice civilised meal with some of our closest family and friends sounded ideal. Decision made he reserved the Italian Room, a private dining room in Prestonfield House, to house our gathering. In addition our party would enjoy exclusive use of the Whiskey Room on arrival. A few emails and phonecalls back and forth with the events team at Prestonfield House and we had our menus and details for the night finalised. All that was left was for us to arrive with our happy faces to enjoy the evening.
Following some friendly banter (read death threats) with the ever so friendly (read evil cow) Ryanair ground staff we boarded our red eye flight and braced ourselves against the gale force wind. A very bumpy flight, punctuated with plenty of “oh Jesus” and “sweet mother of the holy divine” and “I’m gonna be sick”, later we landed safely in Edinburgh. On arrival at the Bonham Hotel the general consensus was that everyone was “S T A R V I N” so we slinked into the restaurant for breakfast. Mr. Boo & myself indulged in a full Scottish as it was a whole 4 hours before lunch. It was as good as we remembered, especially the haggis and black pudding.
With our bellys full we set out for a bit of sight seeing. We got a little side tracked along the way and enjoyed some shopping as we walked but finally found ourselves outside the castle for a few nice pics. Pictures taken a little voice from the back piped up, “right, that’s the cultural bit done, can we go for a pint now?”. Approximately 3 minutes later we were out of the rain and happily sipping on our first liquid refreshment of the day(non alcoholic for me, I had a party to host). Warm and dry we decided to head to a bar closer to our lunch reservation and so made our way to Tempus on Georges Street.
On the way we stumbled upon Bibi’s Bakery and sure it would have been rude not to have a look inside. The windows were filled with beautiful displays of cupcakes, giant cupcakes and wedding cakes. We pressed our hungry little noses against the glass counter to decide which cupcake to fill our belly’s with and happily left with a little box full. I had a yummy Nutella one, a deliciously light and moist cake with a tower of chocolate Nutella frosting and a scattering of chopped hazelnuts.
Canapes scoffed and bubbles quaffed we were seated for dinner. The Italian Room is “Dramatically panelled with painted scenes as a souvenir of an eighteenth century Grand Tour, the green and gilt Italian Room is one of Prestonfield’s most historic rooms and the most sought-after private dining room in the city. Dine in a room that has played host to Presidents, Prime Ministers, Royalty and stars of every age – from Boswell, Johnson and Benjamin Franklin to Oliver Reed, Lauren Bacall and Elton John.” Would you be able for me? I tell ya, it’s far from private dining rooms I was reared.
The table was beautifully set with silver candelabras and vases stuffed with seasonal flowers. As a happy coincidence the tableware was monogramed with an ‘R’ for the on site restaurant Rhubarb but I allowed my guests to pretend it was done just for lil ol’ me. An open fire roared happily in the hearth to ensure we were all toasty warm for the evening and the room was constantly filled with chatter and laughter. Both Susie and William were relentless in their desire to please and no request went unfulfilled throughout the evening. Whatever our guests desired they obliged to ensure that everyone had everything they needed or just wanted on the evening, and all with unwaning smiles on their faces.
Dinner was served and again silence descended, bar the clattering of silverware off plates and the smacking of lips and appreciative nom nom sounds. I opted for a starter of hand dived scallops, butternut squash, lime, capers and coriander. The scallops were cooked to perfection, melt in the mouth with a delicate smokey flavour followed by a natural sweetness. The butternut squash did not disappoint either, charred on the griddle pan it was soft but not mushy and full of delicious sweet flavour. I also had a little taste of Mr. Boo’s soup which I would happily have finished had he not wrestled the spoon from my hand.
My main was 35 day dry-aged sirloin of beef, three peppercorn jus and boulangère potatoes. The steak was more than my little *cough* tummy could accommodate but what I did manage to put away was tender and full of flavour and the boulangère potatoes made a very welcome accompaniement. I may have forgotten to take a picture of them because I dived straight in. Others who chose the duck and cod declared them to be delicious also, the greedy gits didn’t offer me a little taste though.
For dessert I opted for the chocolate offering, naturally, warm Valrhona milk chocolate tart, star anise poached pear & pear ice cream. While it was more pear heavy than chocolate heavy it was a lovely end to the meal. The pear still had a little bite to it and the chocolate crunch that lined the plate added a nice balance of texture to the fruit and the chocolate mousse. By all accounts the rhubarb crumble with ginger ice cream was the star of the desserts show and received hearty praise from all who ordered it. My sister who received her dessert of a trio of ices first had it hoovered up before the remaining desserts had been served, I think she enjoyed it. As if we hadn’t stuffed our belly’s enough we then tucked into petit fours of florentines (one of my favourite treats) and perfect cubes of turkish delight.
After dinner entertainment came via the mens toilets. A selection of hats are available for patrons to try on while they erm well wait for their hands to dry I assume. The lovely Susie ordered the men to go and retrieve some hats for the ladies to try on. There was much hilarity at hats of various shapes and sizes perching atop heads of various shapes and sizes. We were even permitted to try on some antique styles removed from the safety of their protective leather hat boxes. A round of musical hats ensued to uproarious laughter and much camera clicking before order returned to the room. My favourite was a white leather jockeys hat worn with the most earnest face by one of our male guests. With fully belly’s we headed for Tigerlily in search of some liquid refreshments to end the evening. Mojito anyone?
The next morning we all rose in various states if chirpiness for round two of the Scottish breakfast. I opted for the full Scottish again and I think it was even nicer than the previous days offering. Once checked out of the hotel we headed our separate ways to spend the day as we wished. I accompanied my sis to the Disney shop to stock up for the little princess she had left at home for the very 1st time. I wanted one of everything for me but unfortunately they didn’t have my size. My niece however was in luck and received a case full of goodies when her mam returned home.
Half of us then met in the Witchery by the Castle for lunch. We were starved, hadn’t eaten much at all since we left Dublin *cough*. This was my third visit to the Witchery, we had eaten in both the main dining room and the Secret Garden on previous occasions and were seated in the main dining room again. Both rooms are beautifully appointed spaces, the main dining room is dimly lit with low ceilings and lots of flickering candlelight, the Secret Garden is a lighter space but equally as grand. There were 3 menus to choose from, a la carte, a set menu of 3 courses for £30, and a light lunch/pre-theatre menu offering 2 courses for £14.95, meaning you can enjoy a meal in one of Scotland’s finest restaurants at a very reasonable price. We enjoyed a really beautiful lunch and maybe a sneaky glass of bubbles, I honestly couldn’t think of a more perfect way to end our whistle stop tour of Edinburgh.