City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Blackwood's Bar and Grill


Average Rating:
4
Restaurant Photos
Photo of the Edinburgh restaurant
Restaurant profile
Serving times: 
Mon-Sat: 18:00-22:00. Sun: Closed.
Telephone: 
(0131) 225 2720
Restaurant Established: 
13

In the heart of the New Town, just up the hill from Stockbridge, two grand Georgian townhouses on Gloucester Place have been glamorously redesigned to create the Nira Caledonia hotel and Blackwood's Bar and Grill. The Restaurant name refers to its literary connection. From 1826 - 1854, this was the home of Edinburgh philosopher, essayist and wit, John Wilson, the leading writer for Blackwood's magazine.


The Reviews

4

Tasty chargrilled steak and seafood at this cosy, homely Stockbridge Residence.

Reviewed by Vivien Devlin

Friday, June 14, 2013 - 3:08pm

Edinburgh was rightly named the world’s first Unesco City of Literature in 2004 due to the extraordinary number of our world renowned writers and poets, past and present. Have a pint in their favourite old pubs – from the White Hart Inn, (Robert Burns) to the Oxford (Ian Rankin) - or dine at an elegant Georgian Townhouse, the former home of the prolific 19th century writer, John Wilson, “ the greatest magazine writer of his time.”

Using the pseudonym Christopher North, Wilson was a philosopher, critic, poet, reviewer, essayist and leading writer for Blackwood’s magazine. With his flowing hair, flamboyant personality and wit, he was perhaps Scotland’s literary equivalent of Oscar Wilde.

His grand residence at 6 Gloucester Place in the New Town has been a hotel for many years but has been revamped as the Nira Caledonia Hotel featuring Blackwood’s Bar and Grill.

Spot the name Christopher North engraved in the fanlight above the entrance door as you step inside. This charming, heritage home retains the original cornices, wood panelling and staircase, blended with contemporary fabrics and furnishings created by the design team at Jeffreys Interiors, Stockbridge. Relax on velvet draped chairs or sofa in the cosy black and gold boudoir-styled Blackwood’s Bar for a glass of fizz or cocktail before dinner.

The Restaurant with its dark, dramatic décor and eclectic collection of books and teapots, like an intimate private dining room, has three neat rows of tables and armchairs. For me, at 5 ft 4 ins, my very comfortable, soft cushioned chair was slightly low for the table height, offering chic style over function.

As the menu explains, the seasonal, organic food is sourced locally, detailing the provenance of farms and fisheries for each dish. Under Head Chef, David Scott, the speciality of Blackwood’s is the Josper chargrill oven; this uses charcoal which burns at a high and even heat to perfect precise cooking and enhance the flavour of steak, lamb, poultry, game and seafood.

From a varied choice of starters - Shetland mussels, Venison Carpaccio, Wild smoked salmon (Dunkeld smokery) – I selected Isle of Mull Scallops served with black pudding (Bower’s butcher around the corner), and pea puree with a glass of crisp dry Sauvignon Blanc. The trio of fat, sweet scallops were lightly pan fried and tasty, but unfortunately partly drowned in a strong balsamic vinaigrette jus which overpowered the flavour of the pea puree, reduced to a muddy puddle on the plate.

For the main course I selected Loch Duart Salmon – intrigued to see how it would fare in the charcoal grill. I asked for it underdone, and this is exactly how it was cooked: beautifully tender and juicy with a subtle smoky flavour. I could not resist a side order of fat hand cut chips and also Josper chargrilled Mediterranean vegetables with soft plump peppers - an ideal partner for the fish, as was a glass of a rich, fruity Tempranillo-Syrah. The Restaurant was busy this Monday night, and I heard neighbouring diners comment on how much they were enjoying their chargrilled steak.

Desserts are mainly traditional Scottish favourites, such as Sticky Toffee Pudding and Cranachan, but to finish, I requested a tiny portion of Cheese and oatcakes and this proved excellent. Diners may like to return to the Bar for a nightcap dram from a list of well known brands and own label whisky.

You can just imagine John Wilson’s spirit lurking in the shadows: as a romanticist and bon viveur, he would surely have approved of the lavish, luxury makeover of Number 6, preserving classic design, homely ambience and his literary connection. Open to hotel guests and non residents, this is a welcome addition to the smart places to eat and drink around Stockbridge.