When the sun shines in Scotland, we make the most of it. It’s a wonderful sight to behold, Princes Street gardens buzzing with locals and tourists alike, all happy and relaxed enjoying the sunshine.
The Scottish Cafe and Restaurant sits in a prime spot above the gardens, as part of the National Galleries of Scotland.
They have a vista that’ll make most restaurants green with envy and definitely make the most of their floor to ceiling windows the frame idyllic summer day settings.
They have a section of outdoor seating under large parasols and although tempted to sit outside we choose to head indoors where it was slightly cooler and less busy. Although it didn’t stay quiet for long – we had a 12pm reservation and by 12.30pm, the restaurant inside was filling up quickly.
We thought it best to toast the glorious weather with something appropriate and Sarah our hostess suggested an Elderflower and Edinburgh Gin fizz. Very drinkable and very much a thirst quencher!
As I would be driving later on that afternoon, I went alcohol free and tried out this non-alcholic beer from Tennents Lager called Hee-Haw! There’s hee-haw in it. It looks like a beer, was thirst quenching like a beer but you could tell that it had no ‘beer’ in it. Still a great non-alcoholic option.
The menu is compact with a wide range of Scottish ingredients used and they certainly do deliver what they say ‘The Scottish Cafe and Restaurant serves locally sourced, sustainably produced food with a menu that showcases the best artisan produce from around Scotland’.
On the starters menu you’ll find great Scottish dishes like Belhaven Smoked Salmon served with Katy Rodger’s lemon crème fraîche, broad beans and a seaweed cracker or try out the classic haggis – Findlays of Portobello haggis, pickled turnip and Glengoyne 10yo whisky vinegar.
My dining partner ordered the soup. Not something I would have ordered on a super warm day but the ingredients were Summery and it does look like a big bowl of sunshine. This is the Phantassie Summer Carrot and Lentil creamed soup with citrus sour cream and coriander oil. The soup was blitzed but not ultra smooth which was lovely as it gave it more texture and little more bite. It was accompanied with two massive thick cut slices of bread. Nice that a local East Lothian producer, Phantassie Organic Produce is delivering the produce for this soup.
For me it had to be salad. I chose the Summer Salad of lemon dressed potatoes with broccoli, herb croutons, baby gem and roasted hazelnut dressing.
Isn’t it pretty? Packed with flavour, textures and colours this salad was delicious. The baby beets and the radishes just perfected this dish for me.
From the mains we could have chosen the Chilli glazed fillet of cod with spring onion, summer greens and hung yoghurt with Mara seaweed or the Chargrilled free range Chicken Salad with seasonal leaves, red onion pickle and roast garlic crème fraîche dressing.
But not wanting fish or chicken, my partner chose the Ramsay of Carluke pork belly, grilled fennel, apricot relish and crackling.
Another stunning looking dish. The pork belly fell apart but required more seasoning and only part of the crackling was crackled enough to eat but that’s neither here nor there. The apricot relish was divine and I could easily eat it with almost anything and everything. It was sticky, fruity and sweet. Loved it!
I have only in recent years experienced Mac n Cheese so I am in no way an aficionado but I thought I would give it a go.
For me this was a disappointment as it was a large bowl of steaming hot creamy cheesy pasta that had no variety in taste. If you enjoy eating mouthfuls of the same thing, then this would be perfect. My dining partner loves mac n cheese so she thought it was lovely. I guess I’m just not a mac n cheese kinga gal. However I did discover that by adding some of the pork belly and the apricot chutney to the mac n cheese – BOOM! My taste buds jumped for joy!
Desserts are all a selection of dishes using pretty much the same great ingredients – lots of strawberries and raspberries and whipped cream and ice cream.
Yummy desserts such as the very simple Scottish strawberries and Contini Madagascan vanilla ice cream; or the Aunty Gloria’s Knickerbocker Glory with seasonal fruit compote, homemade vanilla ice cream, wafer and whipped cream, caught our eye.
Carmin choose the warm rich chocolate brownie with banoffee toffee sauce, banana cream and banana crisps.
The brownie was a large chunk of thick dense chocolately brownie. A little crust on the outside and soft and gooey in the middle served with a toffee sauce and crunchy banana crisps – what’s not too like. If anything, this is a super sized portion and even with both of us munching on it, we could only eat half.
Our Scottish berries are some of the best in the world and when I have the opportunity to eat them, I do. I ate the Summer Edinburgh Mess; essentially an Eton mess with vanilla meringue shards, fresh Perthshire raspberries and strawberries, chantilly cream and summer berry coulis.
The berry sorbet was super tart and ice cold, but delicious against the sweetness from the fresh raspberries and the small light meringues. Small squirts of cream, the coulis and the basil all brought this dessert together. Definitely a great new interpretation of a Summer Eton Mess.
The Scottish Cafe and Restaurant is predominantly open during the day until 5pm with a late night opening until 7pm on Thursdays. It has disabled access and the staff are wonderful, so accommodating and friendly.
I like the Scottish Cafe and Restaurant and would recommend it to locals and tourists. I love the fact that they source, use and promote local, sustainable and seasonal produce and producers. If you want to support local and independent restaurants and suppliers, then this is one place you should visit.
The Scottish Cafe and Restaurant, In the Scottish National Galleries, The Mound, Edinburgh. Tel: 0131 225 1550 www.contini.com/scottish-cafe-and-restaurant
My Spoon Award : Silver 8/10