As part of the Edinburgh Restaurant Festival which ran from 8-18th October this year, a number of restaurants offered meal deals for lunch and dinner on the last few days of the festival. The purpose of the festival was to introduce visitors and locals alike to the delicious offerings Edinburgh has to offer to tempt the taste buds.
We browsed a few restaurants before finally deciding on
The Tower Restaurant to coincidentally celebrate our 6th year together as a couple and 3 weeks as husband and wife!
On arrival, you are greeted by the receptionist who then ushers you to the lift. The minute you step off the lift on the 5th floor, the Maitre D’ greets by name and whisks you to your table where you’re asked if you would like a drink. The restaurant itself is of an intimate size which isn’t a bad thing. The problem with some bigger restaurants is: the kitchen is small meaning chefs and dish washing staff worked in cramped quarters, leaving a bigger area for guests. This also means that it’s difficult to have a conversation without talking loudly to each other across the table to be heard. At The Tower, there are just enough tables to accommodate a good number without being too busy.
Having said that, it surely is a popular restaurant! It was not long after we sat down with our menus that other tables started filling up with lively conversation about the lovely dishes on the menu.
As part of the Edinburgh Restaurant Festival offer, we were served the 3-course Table D’Hote menu (usual price of £35). Set menus aren’t always a bad thing, especially if you’re intimidated by a large choice of dishes for each course! Even with the set menu, the OH and I were tempted by at least 2 of the dishes for each course, so we decided to order one each and have a taste of the other’s.
Bread for the table
Another thing I really appreciated was the loaf of seeded bread we got for our table of two. Most restaurants we’ve been to will either give you a slice or two per person, or they’ll give you one roll. The Tower are very generous in giving us a wee loaf so you’re not left to feel awkward like you might do elsewhere when you just get one roll, feeling like you need to ask for more.
On to the food!
Grilled squid salad with chorizo, sea aster, green beans and mustard dressing
Ham hock terrine with parsley mayo and pickled baby carrots
The ham hock terrine was faultless, I love ham hock and the starter was no exception. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the grilled squid salad. A lot of people aren’t big fans of the rubbery texture of squid, but the squid has been nicely prepared so it wasn’t too chewy. The warmth of the cooked squid contrasted nicely with the salty flavour of the chorizo and the cold greens. I will definitely be ordering (or cooking something similar at home!) again soon!
Pan fried sea trout fillet with fennel escabeche and sautéed heritage potatoes
Packington Farm pork belly with Stornoway black pudding, savoy cabbage and squash purée
I’m not a big fan of fish, but the sight of mussels and crayfish on the OH’s dish had my mouth watering. I thought I’d had plenty of mussels to know what it’s meant to taste like, but for the first time I was really able to appreciate the fresh sea water flavour you normally find with oysters (FYI, I’m not a fan of oysters).
The pork belly was melt-in-your-mouth amazing! If you’ve ever tried Chinese roast pork, this is what the pork belly reminded me of. Nice, crisp but not too fatty skin with a nice sweet glaze and soft meat that cuts easily. The flavours of the glaze with the pork mixed together with the black pudding and squash purée was another surprising combination I didn’t expect would go together so well. It really did though!
On first glance, I thought the starter and main courses seemed to be quite small portions, but I decided to hold judgement. The good restaurants normally know how much to serve without guests feeling over-full and Head Chef at The Tower knows his stuff. After two courses, I wasn’t entirely sure if I should fit in pudding too, but on looking at the wonderful selections on the menu, I realised I wasn’t feeling too stuffed so went for it.
Dark Belgian chocolate terrine with Maldon salt and honeycomb
Cooked plums with pistachio baklava and beurre noisette ice cream
If you’ve ever tried chocolate-flavoured desserts you know it’s not the real thing. The dark Belgian chocolate terrine was definitely dark chocolate alright. It wasn’t too filling because of the dark chocolate, but it tasted wonderfully rich too. The honeycomb was soft to the bite and really melted when eaten. I didn’t try the OH’s baklava or plums, but I did taste the beurre noisette ice cream out of curiosity and it was amazing!
All in all, I couldn’t fault our first dining experience at The Tower. There were a couple of minor errors, but it didn’t detract from our enjoyment of our meal and the efficiency and excellent service from the staff. We never felt rushed during our meal, the staff were very attentive and were given just the right amount of time between courses. I’ve been truly wowed by our experience and feel that I’ve learned quite a bit more about food and the wonderful creations chefs whip up in the kitchen on a daily basis. This would definitely be a restaurant I add to my contact list to visit when there’s another anniversary or special occasion to celebrate!
The Tower Restaurant is open daily from 10:00am to 11:00pm and can be found on the top floor of the National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street, EH1 1JF.
For more information on the latest events or interesting nooks and crannies in Edinburgh, visit This Is Edinburgh.