City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Cucina at Hotel Missoni

Average Rating:
Restaurant Photos
Cucina interior
Restaurant profile
Edinburgh Area: 
Old Town Edinburgh
Serving times: 
Mon - Thu: 12:30pm - 3:00pm, 6:00pm - 10:00pm Fri, Sat: 12:30pm - 3:00pm, 6:00pm - 11:00pm Sun: 12:30pm - 2:30pm, 6:00pm - 10:00pm
0131 240 1666

Stylishly designed Italian restaurant recently named as one of Scotland's top dining places in the Observer Food Monthly Awards 2010.

The Reviews


Stylish Italian Restuarant Nestled Within Hotel Missoni

Reviewed by Euan Andrews

Sunday, January 30, 2011 - 6:05pm

Once there stood, on the corner of George IV Bridge and the High Street and just across from the eternal Deacon Brodie’s pub, the Lothian Regional Council’s Revenues and Benefits Department.

This smoke stained brutalist structure was filled with the wails of weeping claimants desperate for the Bailiffs not to be sent in. This foul edifice is long since torn down and replaced, following a lengthy gestation, by the luxury boutique Hotel Missoni. I wonder whether the residents of this exclusive destination, as they wander the corridors late at night, can still hear the damned cries of those poor unfortunate souls begging for extra time to pay their latest Council Tax instalment.

Nestling on the first floor of Hotel Missoni is Cucina. Recently name-checked in the Observer Food Monthly Awards of 2010 as one of Scotland’s finest restaurants, it seemed a fitting time to visit this chic Italian spot. Past the Hotel Missoni doorman (a welcoming yet forlorn figure decked out in what looks like former First Minister Jack McConnell’s much mocked designer kilt) and up the stairs into the vast and opulently over designed dining room. The space seems even vaster due to it being, on Thursday lunchtime at 1pm, almost totally deserted. Two lunching ladies are at one table, and what looks to be Italian culinary maestro Giorgio Locatelli lounges in the corner under heavy Ray Bans, here in town to present a masterclass in white truffles. During our lunch the odd party arrives and departs, but there can never be any more than five tables, out of around forty, on the go at any time.

It would be wise not to visit Cucina with a bad hangover. The décor is a vibrating clash of parallel black and white lines, from wall hangings down to napkins and table cloth. It’s a bit like sitting inside a 3D representation of a Bridget Riley painting and takes several minutes for ones eyes to adjust. The service is efficient and brisk, perhaps too brisk. The floor manager, although most polite, seems desperately keen to get our order within mere minutes of our sitting down, leaving one to wonder whether he is more concerned with clearing the restaurant for the camera crew here to film chef Mattia Camorani in action.

Ultimately, no matter how elegantly wrapped and presented it is, the most important thing about any restaurant is, or should be, the food. Here, Cucina delivers quite splendidly with a three course lunch for £16.50. Excellent bread and olive oil is presented, as should be with any self-respecting Italian restaurant, almost immediately upon arrival. Following this, M and I both have pleasantly light starters. M has the insalata autunnale, a refreshing Autumn salad (it is, I must say, mid-November) of red cabbage, chickpeas, carrots and parsnip crisps while I am richly rewarded by the caserecci alle tre cipolle. This is a simple dish of pasta twirls in a three onion sauce, and is a perfectly proportioned velvety concoction which could also make an impressive frugal meal in itself.

For mains, M goes for the (deep breath now) petto di pollo alla griglia con limone pure di patate con pori which is, in a nutshell, a lemony grilled chicken breast with leeks and mashed potatoes. It’s good food simply cooked, the chicken lovely and moist, and reminds me of lunches in old-fashioned Italian café’s in Soho. My own nasello al forno con lenticchie (roasted hake with braised lentils) is a well cooked and firm piece of fish, but the dish as a whole is lacking a third element due to the dryness of the lentils nestling beneath.

Desserts are pretty standard fare, but of fine quality. M declares her tiramisu quite outstanding, while my glazed lemon tart has the requisite crisp and zesty flavours. By this time, we are, ever attentive waiting staff excepted, all alone in this somewhat cavernous op art cubic space. Dark shadows are beginning to creep up the walls and the STV presenter from The Hour, after a few quips about Stephen Jardine, needs to get on with his business. We make for the cloakrooms, hoping to return on an evening when Cucina will be alive with the buzz and glamour it sorely desires and requires.

This hotel looks very nice. As I have seen in various pictures, I tend to believe that the design was made to keep people awake or to make you dizzy. I have been accommodated in many hotels, but none of them looked so weird and artsy as this one. When I'll travel in Edinburgh area I will definitely give this hotel a try.