Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Perfection: Castle Terrace

 Miss K and I have found we are quite easily swayed when it comes to food. Last week I asked if she'd be keen for lunch at Castle Terrace... why not?!

Castle Terrace is renowned as being one of Edinburgh's top restaurants, with a Michelin Star and glittering reviews no matter where you look.
 From the outside, the restaurant sits quietly, on a none-too-busy street looking up towards the Castle. The facade certainly gives no indication of the treasures to be found inside.

We were fairly certain we were going to go for the set lunch menu, which is an absolute steal at £24. After a quick peruse of the menu outside, we announced our arrival, and even though we were early, we were welcomed and shown to a lovely corner table. Our coats were put away for us, and drink and lunch menus offered. We started with a tap water each, then decided on a cocktail to start.

We were offered canapes to have with our cocktails while we pondered our choices.
 I can't remember the names of these stunning creations, but I will describe them: The bottom left one was a light and crispy pastry with a rich tomato paste and cheese, a mini Margarita pizza if you will, it was lovely. The deep brown and speckled item at 10 and 3 O'Clock had flavours reminiscent of dim sum selections, a crisp outer shells with a lovely smooth paste within, with flavours of pork and prawn, this one was a winner in my eyes. The third was called the Caesar Salad, and we were warned to eat it in one go as the centre was liquid (I'm so glad this was mentioned: visions of liquid Caesar Salad all down my dress). I'm not sure which wizard or scientist developed this, but it was positively stunning, it had the flavours but with all the textures muddled up. Divine.

 My pre-meal cocktail was a Terrace Tiki: Bacardi Gold, orange, grapefruit with an anise finish. It was refreshing and sharp... and very, very boozy.
 Lady K ordered an Apple Royale: Gin, Cox apple, St Germaine and champers. In all honesty I don't know what most of those things are, but I had a wee sip and if was everything an appetiser should be, sharp, tangy and acidic.
 We were offered our choice of breads: white, brown, sundried tomato, caramelised onion and one more (that possibly the boozy cocktail will not allow me to remember). The bread was beautiful, soft with a crunchy crust, the flavours came though proudly and the butter was fantastic, and a nice note: there was enough butter, I always run out of butter!
 Our amuse bouche was a cool carrot and cumin number. I am furious for not taking a picture of a spoonful, if you can imagine digging a spoon into a perfectly poached egg, this was the colour and texture of a spoonful of this lovely appetiser. The carrot flavour was subtle, dancing across the tastebuds and leaving only essence of the gentle partnership of the cumin.
late edit: K found a pic!

My first course was the Lamb. Crispy braised lamb shoulder with chickpea, pickled garlic, roasted red pepper and coriander.

I was really blown away- with all of our courses- that underneath all the art, all the glitz and glamour, the food felt and tasted... homely. The lamb was meaty and with the texture of lovely moist pulled pork, the crunchy outer shell was married perfectly. The pea and veg combination underneath induced sensations of being at home, warm and loved: 'Like a big hug'. It was understated. I apologise if the descriptions become a little airy-fairy, but this was an emotion-evoking meal!

K's Spelt: risotto of spelt with braised octopus, tomato and basil. I had a taste of this and was literally thrown back in my seat, I had never experienced anything like the intensity of flavour packed into one tiny morsel of food! Food envy: level 12!
 We decided on a matching wine package: £19 for a matched glass with each course. As we were brought the glasses, it was lovely for the wait-staff to run us through why the wine was chosen and the type of grape and where it came from. Of course, I cannot remember which particular types we had, but with our starters, K had white and I had red!

Our mains: K and I chose, not only what we wanted but also to make sure we got different courses from each other so we could see and taste as many options as possible. Initially I was going to have the beef: Scotch beef with ox tongue pastilla, asparagus and basil gnocchi, but K mentioned she wanted it. She then pointed out that the Plaice came with chips, which was bizarre, because as I was walking to the restaurant, I passed a burger joint and looked through the window to see piles of chips on every table and despite walking to a very 'posh' restaurant, all I could think of was crispy golden chips. So I decided... I'm going to have fish n chips: Michelin Starred Fish n Chips! Poached fillet of North Sea Plaice with chips and sauce bearnaise.

It certainly was a beautiful dish! Architectural without being poncy. The fish was as delicate as...as... it was so delicate and subtle, but within the subtlety a meatiness came through, and I think it was this meatiness that supported the big chunky chips. I had an internal argument whereby I was trying to figure out if I wished the chips where crisper, but I don't think having a strong crunch would have worked, I think the contrasts would have been too great. The bearnaise was lovely. I just have a slight inkling that this dish could have used one... more... element. What that last element would be, I'm not sure, but this was 95% excellent.

K's meal on the other hand, was perfection. This meal, in one mouthful both transfixed me and transported me, as I mentioned with my first course, this meal had essence of home. I couldn't tell you which part, the beef or the sauce of the ox tongue pillow, or the combination of it all, but the effect it had on me was... moving.
 With our mains, I had a Marlborough Pinot Grigio and K a red from Chile.

For dessert, we both wanted Cheese. And who wouldn't when the dreamy cheese cart looked like this.

 The waitress was fantastic and had an incredible knowledge of the cheeses, and even arranged them in order of mild to strong. From left to right, a sheep's cheese, a creamy brie with blue, cheddar, applewood smoked, and Isle of Mull blue. These were served with oatcakes and walnut bread, as well as our choice of chutneys, jellies, grapes, and celery.

 Our wine selection with our cheese course was a sweet port-like red. It wasn't really my scene, thought it wasn't undrinkable.

After we were finished we were invited to have a seat in the lounge for coffees and sweets. My first taste of macaron was certainly one to remember, the coffee was perfect.
White chocolate truffle, pistachio macaron, salted caramel and dark chocolate.

I left today's lunch with an insatiable giddiness and goofy grin that I couldn't wipe off my face. I think now I understand what a Michelin Star stands for and means. A dining experience like this, with beautiful food that tastes and feels amazing, knowledgeable staff that make you feel welcome, like a guest in their home... experiences like this are rare, and perfect.

...once again, apologies for the over-fluffy adjectives, I really couldn't help it.

2 comments:

  1. As always a pleasure to read about your experiences.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh thank you for reading! :)

    ReplyDelete