Centrally situated bar and bistro serving seasonal Scottish food.
£10 Challenge: Bistro bar at top of the Mound serving quality seasonal Scottish fare
Reviewed by Irene Brown
Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - 9:27am
Now that the festive season is well and truly over, my lunch companions and I could at last reserve our table at the Whiski Rooms’ bistro to sample their tempting two course £9.95 menu as part of Edinburgh Guide’s £10 Challenge.
Set in a prime site near the top of the Mound, the bistro and bar have large shop style windows that offer fine views of the Scott Monument (and beyond on a good day, nae doot) even though the dreich rain was dampening the Capital on the day we dined.
The bistro is entered through the bar and the whisky room where tastings are held is off to the left. There a stag’s head with illuminated antlers that is likely a remnant from the recent Season, but a bit of fun all the same. The bistro has a rough stone wall on one side of the room and an ochre -toned mural showing the silhouette of a stag. The tables are in dark polished wood with sage coloured upholstered seats and there is the odd hint of tartan.
Because of place’s name and because of its Scottish theme within its eclectic but pleasant enough décor, the Tamla style music that played throughout our visit was surprising. While the music was good in itself, it seemed at odds with the Scottish ambience that appears to be the aim of the establishment. There is plenty of good, subtle Scottish music on offer that would add to the atmosphere for tourists and locals alike, as was discussed at our table with our very engaging waiter, David. If that conversation wasn’t enough to drop a hint, Coda is only round the corner!
Anyway, to the food! While ordering, we started a bottle of The Gourmet, a South Australian Sauvignon Blanc which was zingy and pleasant on the palate. From a choice of three starters, H. and I chose the Cock-a-leekie soup, which seemed just right on a cold, wet day.
The serving was generous, and it was both a hot and hearty plateful that was chock full of chicken meat, but it was a bit gelatinous and too salty for my taste.
The Loch Duart smoked salmon was the choice of I. and V. It came with capers, chopped free range egg and young purpley watercress atop and the verdict was that it was soft with gentle flavours and nicely presented with good colour. The starters came with granary bread and a dish of butter that could have done with being out of the fridge a wee bit longer as those who used it found it just a bit too hard.
There were three choices of main courses from which H. opted for the home made Cottage Pie that came in the form of an old fashioned Scotch pie topped with green coloured mash and served with roast button mushrooms. This new take on an old favourite was deemed to be tasty and flavoursome as well as being novelly presented.
The remaining three of this quartet of diners chose the steamed blue Shetland mussels with cream, harissa, lime and coriander that came with a slice of rye and tomato bread that was just right for mopping up the spicy sauce. One of us opted out of cream with the mussels and the request was met with ease, the dish losing none of the piquancy provided by the harissa. Apart from the wine, we had reached the £10 limit but the conversation was flowing and the pudding menu was tempting.
H. is on a constant search for the perfect crème brulée so although it was not actually on the menu for this deal, it was on offer to us. It was called a whisky crème brulée and was served with what looked like home-made shortbread. With a good texture and good topping, it went down well and was enough for two but the whisky element was barely discernible so we decided it must have been given the angel’s share.
V. and I shared the apple and bramble crumble (named ‘blackberry’ on menu – the Scottish name would have been more appropriate) with cinnamon custard. V. proclaimed it to be ‘bramblesome’ and I decided it was quite deliciously jammy.
Already over budget, H. and V. threw caution to the wind and ordered a Kilchoman Inaugural and Dalwhinnie, as it seemed rude not to in an establishment with a bar specialising in whisky!
Finishing with some good coffee, we decided our wait for the Whiski Rooms had definitely been worthwhile. The table’s water carafe had a discreet motif of the three wise monkeys on its side – a delightfully subtle hint at the tone of what a good lunch conversation should contain. Ours certainly did!