Lunch at The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (Queen Street)

A mini-ish blog post as this was a few weeks ago now!

The Yorkshireman, a good client of The Gurnett’s, was up visiting from the Big Smoke. Never one to miss an opportunity and (quite rightly) guessing it would be somewhere nice, I promptly volunteered to come along for lunch, along with Surfpunkian and MacG. The Whisky Society is a firm favourite amongst some of the Malt-loving Yardies and the restaurant has a good reputation so ‘happy me’!

The Society is a membership organisation which has a couple of venues in Edinburgh, one (my favourite) The Vaults in Leith and the other, the original, in Queen Street. Being run by the prestigious LVMH group since its takeover of Glenmorangie a few years ago, it has a quiet, refined air about it as you would expect, in fact, if I was to describe the dining room/downstairs area of the Queen Street establishment as a person it would probably be The Queen, mature, traditional, austerely upper class and with an undefined personality. (hmm, this could be fun to do on future posts!)

The decor in the downstairs dining room

Although offered the A la Carte menu, I think we all went for the Menu Du Jour (offering 2 courses for £18.50 and 3 for £22.95), not what you might term a cheap lunch but I guess that’s the beauty of expenses!

Starters on offer:

Roast Squash With Ricotta Gnocchi, broad beans, sage brown butter

Sea Bass With Sauteed Squid, sweet and sour peppers, sauce nero

Soft Boiled Egg With Red Wine Sauce, lardons, spinach, mushrooms and brioche

and Mains of:

‘Pot au feu’ of beef, seasonal vegetables, dumplings and horseradish cream

Roast Cod with ciabatta puree, cavalo nero and a puttanesca sauce

Pappardelle with cepe ragu, crisp leaves and herb oil.

Soft Boiled Egg with red wine sauce, lardons, spinach, mushrooms & brioche

The choice was easy for me as Gluttonista that I am, along with Surfpunk, I was going out  for another fine dining experience that evening courtesy of Yelp to celebrate the launch of YelpEats at Mark Greenaway, a firm favourite of mine so I’d already chosen my supper (Ham Hough & Pork Belly), I opted for the really interesting sounding egg/bacon/brioche starter and the Cod for a main.

Roast squash with ricotta gnochi, broad beans & sage brown butter

The starter was lovely, an unusual dish but one where every element pleased the senses and it was with a tinge of regret that I finished it, especially as it was combining some of my favourite things, not least, red wine and red meat! MacG, also went for the same while the ‘gentlemen’ opted for the squash & ricotta gnocchi. It was well presented and I believe it was enjoyed, I’ll need to ask them to comment! All helped along the way by a nice Pouilly-Fumé, if memory serves!

Roast Cod with ciabbatta puree, cavalo nero & a puttanesca sauce

The Main when it arrived looked great, the cod tantalised with a mouthwateringly crispy skin on a hearty and a visually pleasing bed of greens. The fish was well cooked and tasty but I felt that there was something missing, I can’t put my finger on it but it just didn’t excite my palate as much as it did my eye. The beef on the other hand looked pretty modest in terms of presentation but was extremely well cooked and tender in a tasty.

‘Pot au feu’ of beef, seasonal vegetables dumplings and horseradish sauce

I don’t really have a sweet tooth as most of you will know however I’d spotted a ginger ice cream as part of dessert and it piqued my interest. Other dishes ordered were a Rum pannacotta served with mango sorbet and a dark chocolate whisky mousse which came with the ginger ice-cream, although I just went for an ice cream solo.

Rum pannacotta with mango sorbet and a dark chocolate Whisky mousse with ginger ice cream

All in all, the service was uber-polite, the food was robust, well presented and of hearty proportions but for me it was just lacking the ‘wow factor’ I’d been expecting. Would I go again? Yes, if I was with a real Whisky fan who hadn’t been before and if it wasn’t coming out of my pocket. There are other restaurants in the same price bracket nearby with more character and a personable feel that I would choose ahead of this one.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 28 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1JX 0131 220 2044

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