Cucina is up there with some of the most beautiful restaurants in Edinburgh and is located in one of Edinburgh’s most gorgeous hotels, the Radisson Collection Royal Mile.
I dined at Cucina with the lovely Lorna from Tuggy Tucks In and together we tried out their Autumn menu. It was a cold night, so this menu of filling and satisfying dishes certainly warmed the heart and the belly.
The bread was tomato bread served with oil and balsamic. Dangerous stuff as we both could have easily filled up on this alone. Who doesn’t love to chase the sweet balsamic beads around in the oil and catch the elixir by driving your chunk of bread in to soak up the mix.
There are quite a few gluten free, dairy free, vegan and vegetarian dishes listed on the menu, but neither Lorna nor I are any of these so we went for the full fat, carnivore options!
Some lovely dishes are listed in the starter section like Marinated Golden Beetroot with vegan parsley mayonnaise, beetroot tuile and chard leaf; or the Duck Liver Parfait with fig chutney and a warm brioche bun.
Lorna opted for the Cullen Skink with smoked haddock, potato and leek soup (gluten free). A large white plate arrived with a wee pile of diced potatoes and leeks in the centre. The waitress then poured the soup at the table. A nice touch.
Lorna is a Cullen Skink aficionado and gave this the thumbs up. Smooth and velvety it certainly hit all the right notes and had a good balance of flavours.
Scallops were also on the starter menu and my must have. At £14.50 this dish was a big disappointment. Two very sad looking, small scallops, where one looked like it had been cut in half or had been badly shucked, arrived alongside a thin slither of bacon and some very bitter pumpkin puree.
However the scallops were perfectly cooked and well seasoned and the sapphire added a nice saltiness to each bite.
The Mains Menu is split into three sections namely, meats, fish and vegetarian/vegan.
Under meats you will find Veal Loin with artichokes, baby onions, baby leeks and veal jus (gluten free); and Slow Cooked Chicken Leg with roasted breast, shallots and thyme jus (also gluten free).
The selection of fish includes Salmon, Cod, Monkfish, Sole and Lobster Thermidor; and the Vegetarian/Vegan dishes include Stuffed Savoy Cabbage Leaf with lentils, chestnuts, butternut squash with a red pepper sauce; and Potato Dumplings with artichoke, broad beans, red peppers and a truffle cream.
I chose the Squab Pigeon with smoked bacon cabbage and a honey and lavender jus (gluten and dairy free).
Presentation gets a 10/10 but unfortunately the few bites that I managed to take (there isn’t a lot of meat on it) were tough. I couldn’t pick up the lavender and could essentially only taste sweetness which would have come from the honey.
Tuggy Tucked into the Pork Fillet with pork belly, mini Stornoway black pudding, apple and red endive.
The black pudding is hiding under the greenery! Again faultless presentation but this dish hit the mark. The pork was well cooked, well seasoned and a classic combo of black pudding, pork and apple. A very well executed plate of food.
The sides – wow! These carrots with cumin seeds were delectable and smothered in honey or possibly butter. How ever they were cooked, they were utterly gorgeous.
And if there is cauliflower cheese on the menu, it’s a must order. A nice portion to share, super cheesy and very very yummy. No sides were left at this dinner table!
With our meal we enjoyed a must have glass of vino. I am such a creature of habit and stuck with a firm favourite, Picpoul whilst Lorna choose a Merlot.
Ah desserts, the one course that is so hard to get right.
Here we have the Brioche Bread Pudding with beer ice cream and oat tuile.
Again, I have to comment on the presentation, as these dishes are plated up so beautifully. The flavours in this dish are very interesting especially with the ice cream which comes with a ‘pringles’ effect. It has an exceptionally hoppy/beer/malty taste and although it tastes unusual, you can’t stop taking another spoonful, and another, and another. Each component on its own is nice and baked/made well.
My dessert of Sticky Toffee Pudding, Caramel Cream and Vanilla Ice cream was as far away from a sticky toffee pudding you could get. Completely deconstructed it lacked the classic flavours of dates and toffee; and as for the stickiness well that was completely forgotten about.
However, take away any thoughts of it being a sticky toffee pudding and you are left with various dessert components on a plate where each tastes rather good. The caramel cream was velvety and slightly sweet, the tuile was crispy and crunchy, the sponge soft and light and the ice cream smooth with a good hit of vanilla.
For the first time ever, I had dinner plate envy. I wish I had chosen the dishes that Lorna had chosen as all her dishes were quite delicious. As for my chosen dishes, most of the food was great apart from a few slight hiccups here and there.
You’ll receive a very warm welcome at Cucina, and the service was great with very friendly, warm staff.
Cucina, Radisson Collection Royal Mile, Edinburgh.
My Spoon Award : Bronze 7/10 (awarded to eateries where food and service are good)