Castle Terrace Tasting Menu – the only place, ever, we didn’t leave a tip!

As ‘Carnage’ (the end pronounced as ‘large’ rather than ‘age’!) tradition would have it, this time it was AVM’s birthday fine dining treat and after our amazing lunch at Kitchin just before Christmas she was keen to go to Tom’s sister restaurant ‘Castle Terrace’. We had no hesitation in choosing the Tasting Menu with matching wines. At £100 per head (the same as Michelin starred Kitchin) we thought it was a little steep however if it delivered at every level as Kitchin had then it would most definitely be worth it. As soon as we all arrived we were hurried through to the main restaurant, they did after all need to get two sittings off every table! We ordered water as we knew (or rather thought we did) that there would be a glass of champagne on it’s way shortly and plenty of yummy wines thereafter. We polished off the little cheesy balls and pasta type nibbles that were beautifully displayed on the table and eagerly anticipated the delights we were about to sample.

Salmon Mousse appetiser

Our appetisers arrived, the waiter mumbled through what it actually was and then scurried off. We looked around for the champagne, there was an open bottle right next to us and we could see waiters topping other tables up but there was definitely none heading in our direction. The appetiser itself turned out to be (thanks to the menu we received on leaving) a salmon mousse with a cucumber cappuccino affair which I have to say wasn’t at all to my taste, (there were quite bitter crunchy bits in it) still, the other ladies seemed to enjoy theirs so I didn’t moan too much. On finishing the appetiser we still had nothing but our water to wash it down with & flagged down a waiter. “oh no, you only get a glass of champagne at Kitchin, not here” That would be Kitchin the Michelin starred restaurant then would it? the one that you are charging the same amount as for your tasting menu with wines……? skimping already……? surely not?!

salmon tartare with wasabi ice cream

Next came ‘another’ salmon dish, this time a tartare of Scottish salmon served sushi style with a wasabi ‘ice-cream’ and thankfully an Austrian White arrived albeit a little haphazardly – we came to find the dining staff’s timings were a little erratic, one minute rushed and the next almost lackadaisical! The salmon itself was lovely but the rest of it was by no means outstanding.

Next came an Orkney scallop dish which I was unable to have (regular readers will be well aware of my unfortunate shellfish allergy, the  cause of which, funnily enough, was an Orkney scallop, the blighter & I’ve never really cared for them since!). My substitute dish was a cheese ravioli in a fresh tomato sauce. I have to say that the ravioli itself was the first thing I’d eaten so far that evening that I thought was really tasty. Both dishes were served with another white wine, different for each dish.

Asparagus & raw spring vegetable salad

3 courses under our belt and we were not feeling the way we should have been feeling about such a ‘treat’ and unfortunately one for a special occasion. The next course came and this time it was a plate of asparagus with a raw spring vegetable salad. As far as asparagus goes, it was fine but to quote Strawberry Blonde “it’s not the nicest asparagus I’ve ever tasted”, and it was hardly inspiring, I’m sure you’re getting the picture here!! This course was also served with another White wine.

Red mullet on a bed of cheesy mash

The next course was a Skate & crab dish, which again, I was unable to have and the substitute dish was red mullet on a cheesy mash served with a ‘birds nest’ of something like deep-fried vermicelli, it was a little odd to say in the least however the fish and bed of mash was very tasty! This course was AGAIN served with a white wine. Was there ever going to be any variety we all wondered as were heading towards the end of the menu….?!

The next course, thankfully was a Beef dish, all this seafood, vegetables & white wine were feeling very ‘samey’,  a Hampe of Scottish beef served with potato millefeuille, tomatoes, and endive in a beef jus. Hurrah, we got our first non white wine of the evening, an Australian Cab-Sav. To say I can’t actually remember this course is fair as I must have lost interest by this point as I didn’t even take a photograph. All I can remember was the relief at getting my mitts on a glass of red!

creme brulee

We were offered a cheeseboard before heading on to dessert, which most folks know we will jump at, I think the phrase ‘cheese fiends’ is a just one! However by this point we just wanted to get out and certainly didn’t want to be giving them any more of our hard earned cash. The pudding, a creme brulee was set down in front of us and a French dessert wine. To be fair it was a good creme brulee, a wide shallow dish allowed for a good ratio of ‘crackling’ to dessert. This was followed with petits fours

It’ll be no surprise to hear that our verdict on this place isn’t great. Although the A La Carte menu looked delicious it’s highly unlikely any of us would ever go back to try it. From start to finish the service from the waiting staff was bored and disinterested, often not explaining what we were being served, very rushed or just mumbled so we couldn’t understand it. The lack in variety of the wines (where was the champagne or a sparkling at the very least and a nice rose or even a chilled light red?) and the quality of the food did not make this a £100 per head experience.

SO different from the sumptuous and faultless experience we had when we had at Kitchin. It almost felt that this was aimed at tourists and we were simply ‘cash cows’ and it’s the first time we haven’t left a tip! We were all unanimous on that point! We left feeling totally cheated and headed off with much haste to get a nice bottle of red to fortify our somewhat flagging spirits.

Castle Terrace, 33-35 Castle Terrace, Edinburgh, EH1 2EL 0131 229 1222

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12 Responses to “Castle Terrace Tasting Menu – the only place, ever, we didn’t leave a tip!”

  1. James Leon
    June 23, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

    Interesting – sounds similar to a night I had at the Kitchin recently. Six whites and one red, all fish up until a lamb dish then dessert.

    I can safely say I had twice as nice a time with their value lunch menu than with the big tasting.

    • June 23, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

      We’re booked in the Plumed Horse for the tasting menu next month, hopefully it will be as good / on a par with the experience we had at Kitchin which was super! Shame that Castle Terrace is letting them down so badly

  2. AVM
    June 26, 2011 at 10:58 am #

    Such a generous gift from my lovely friends. I can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to it so was seriously disappointed on the foodie front! Poor value from every angle and given tightened purses these days this is simply not on, Mr Kitchin!

  3. Strawberry Blonde
    July 17, 2011 at 4:08 pm #

    My brother & his girlfriend visited Kitchin for a birthday treat yesterday..and I had no worries whatsoever that they would have a sublime dining experience (and was pretty envious, truth be told!)…which rather contrasts with Castle Terrace – I would hesitate to recommend to anyone, least of all for a special celebration!

  4. September 18, 2011 at 1:57 pm #

    Surprised that you had such a disappointing meal, we ate there a week or so ago and thought it was excellent, easily a 1 star restaurant. Perhaps they were having an off night, especially with the champagne.

    • September 19, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

      I think if the service had been as it should have been for a £100 per head meal then the evening we had would have been a very different one, it was such a shame! Unfortunately the Chef didn’t seem to recognise the point we were raising either :o(

  5. October 7, 2011 at 11:44 am #

    Castle Terrace gains a star in the 2012 Michelin Guide. It had been widely punted fto receive the accreditation so they must be doing something right!

  6. Ken R
    January 11, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

    Being fans of The Kitchin from its opening we booked into Castle Terrace within its first few weeks of opening… and vowed never to go back. However, a friend of ours came down to Edinburgh for the day and specifically wanted to eat there. Although we actually booked before the star was announced we ate just after the announcement in October and it really had stepped up its game both in service and quality.

    • January 11, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

      That was brave of you to go back after such a disappointing 1st experience 9I would find it really hard) but very good to know that they had upped their game. Does that mean that they have won you back as a future repeat client?

  7. Ken R
    January 11, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

    Will certainly go back to se if standards have been maintained, plus there were some intriguing dishes that need to be tried. Considered it for an upcomming birthday, but are going with Number One since we haven’t been a while (since before the foraging day in fact!)

    • January 11, 2012 at 9:25 pm #

      Aha, you were one of my fellow foragers in that case? lovely to hear from you! well I hope you enjoy number one, it is good isn’t it?!


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