If you are ever in Edinburgh and in need of a place to stay, please, please book a night at the Prestonfield Hotel. Close to the city centre, the Prestonfield is a grand baroque house set in beautiful gardens. It is by far the most opulent hotel I have ever had the privilege of staying in. The bedrooms and formal rooms are effortlessly elegant with a mismatch of beautiful antique furniture and tapestries.
I have stayed in the Prestonfield a few times over the years; however, it has been a while since I have had dinner in the hotel’s Rhubarb Restaurant (Prestonfield was the first estate in Scotland to cultivate rhubarb). It seemed fitting that we gave it another try when we were staying at the hotel. Rhubarb has 2 AA rosettes.
The restaurant is split over two near identical dining rooms where beautifully laid tables are lit by candlelight. Lacking atmosphere it most certainly is not. The service in the hotel and in the restaurant is truly first class. Attentive and friendly, it makes for a better dining experience than many Michelin starred establishments offer.
Rabbit & Foie Gras ballotine was paired with pistachios and apricots. A great deal of work had clearly gone into the preparation of the ballotine – the foie gras was silky smooth and the rabbit remained moist. The accompanying apricot was a little overpowering but pistachio gave a good balance of texture. Brioche crumbs were scattered on top – I can’t help but feeling It would have been nicer to have had a big hunk of brioche on the side.
King scallops came perfectly cooked. Apple cubes provided good contrast for the silky cauliflower purée. Lemon and chorizo were the star of the show, lifting the dish and giving much-needed acidity. This was a very satisfying dish.
Starters of Cheddar with Beetroot and Prawns with Lobster were also well cooked and tasty. The only criticism being the inclusion of basil with the Cheddar and Beetroot which proved to be overpowering.
Loin of red deer was nicely cooked but over-seasoned which was disappointing as the accompanying mustard mash and red cabbage purée were delicious. On the side was a black pudding ‘crumble’, a brilliant idea. The texture of the topping was just right and the black pudding added richness to the dish. However, this too was over-seasoned leaving us stretching for the water glasses.
Two of us shared a Chateaubriand with béarnaise sauce and Madeira jus. The beef was cooked to a perfect medium rare and the béarnaise was delicious – not too thick and with a nice vinegar kick. This was served with a vast array of side dishes; another sauce (cheese I think), broccoli (a tad undercooked), dauphinoise potatoes, tomatoes (very acidic) and potato croquette/dumpling. The dumpling was amazing, very light. I was left a little overwhelmed by the quantity of food. It may have been more effective (and no doubt easier for the kitchen) to serve maybe one potato dish, two vegetables and one sauce and forget the rest.
Descriptions of the puddings were a little try-hard – with gels, mousses and pastes cropping up in numerous guises. Of the two deserts we tried only one is worthy of note – chocolate and cherries with star anise ice cream. Chocolate ‘teacake’ containing an acidic cherry compote was delicious as were the small tuiles surrounding the ice cream. The star anise ice cream was a little overpowering and icy – it would have been nicer if flavoured with cinnamon.
The food was of a high standard and more than worthy of its 2 rosette accreditation. Perhaps if some of the food was simplified a little it would allow for a purer and more effective flavour to shine through. However, dining in such exquisite surroundings with perfect service, you can’t help but be impressed.
Rhubarb Restaurant, Prestonfield Hotel
Food (For Four): £220
Dress Code: Smart Casual