Scotland boasts some of the finest seafood and best beef in the world. So it’s always a joy to see (and taste) it showcased, in this case alongside another local market leader, Edinburgh Gin.
This concept has already proven successful at the 4-star chain’s St Andrews hotel. But the culinary combination of surf and turf itself has been winning in eateries since the 1960s. And as we arrived from a dreich November night to celebrate the launch of the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel’s new restaurant, we were met with a veritable epicurean feast.
On arrival, we received a glass of fizz as we passed the gin cocktail making station, quickly met by waiters in long aprons bearing canape laden trays. The main restaurant thoroughfare had upmarket food stations with live demonstrations, but my eyes were immediately drawn to the huge pile of langoustines, oysters and crab claws on ice in a decorative barrel. Beside this lay a large fresh fish display and opposite, fresh cuts of beef, and a luxury carvery featuring perfectly medium-rare sirloin and other cuts.
The canapes continued to arrive too – a two-bite sized burger with a mini Ceasar salad side, large mouth-watering caramelised onion tarts, haggis balls and chilled scallops served on a shell. The presentation was beautiful, everything was flavoursome, fresh and plentiful. It wasn’t until much later I discovered an entire cheese and charcuterie section on the upper level, as well as a three-tiered dessert cake and an icing demonstration. All the while we were entertained by a jazz saxophonist.
The hotel itself clearly knows the value of detail: toilet roll ends folded into a point, Elemis hand lotion in the bathrooms, divinely fragranced candles at reception and a manned coat check all add to the high-end feel. Staff were extremely welcoming, obliging and upbeat, adding to a fun and slightly decadent ambience. Even when we were tucked away at a table, trays of food and drink circulated to every corner (something that’s often a problem at other events, where the same strip is serviced, leaving out those on the periphery).
The decor does have that slightly generic hotel restaurant look, but its own entrance should help assist its establishment on the foodie scene, rather than just the hotel dining one.
Launch experiences are, of course, different from eating a meal at a venue. But if this offer was anything to go by, diners are in for a treat, with the chance to sample some choice local produce, under the creative direction of Chef Glen Roach. The hotel is also clearly very adept at throwing a party, boding well for anyone planning a wedding or event here.