When it comes to restaurants in Edinburgh, we're somewhat spoiled for choice. Whether you're a local or visitor, it pays off to look past the obvious and head somewhere a little more undiscovered. Drinks & Dining is just that; tucked behind the Surgeons’ Hall Museum and part of Ten Hill Place hotel, it’s not the most obvious spot to bookmark.
I’m going to get it out there now; there’s no way of forgetting that you’re in a hotel restaurant. It’s not cosy and it’s not sexy, but it is very comfortable. Ambience and candlelight have been eschewed for a sleeker aesthetic so it still looks and feels very stylish. Think friendly catch-ups or dinner with the parents instead of a hot date night.
We were well looked after all evening by Ian, whose attentive service was a delight, and whose knowledge of the wine list ensured we had two very delicious chilled glasses to see us through dinner; a fresh, floral Pinot Grigio rosé (£6), and one of the honeyed Gewurtztraminer Beblenheim (£9.75). To start, I ordered the king scallops (£9), whilst my partner opted for salmon ceviche (£9.50).
Juicy, plump and with a crispy golden crust, the scallops were fresh and tasty, and served with a trio of cauliflower: raw slices, roasted florets and a smooth puree, scattered with sweet golden sultanas. The roasted cauliflower was utterly delicious, and its presentation was so delicate. The salmon ceviche was a huge portion of finely-chopped, oak-smoked Scottish salmon, pepped up with a zingy combination of coriander, lime, chilli and dill; beautifully spiced and perfectly balanced in flavour.
We were spoiled for choice when it came to mains. The menu is elegant and varied, with a fusion of flavours and inspirations; some dishes are undeniably rooted in Scotland, whilst others blend local produce with exotic ingredients. I ordered the sumptuous Scotch prime rib eye (£28) and it was griddled to perfection - which I do not say lightly. Ordered medium-rare, it flashed pink and red, with a velvety texture that melted away. It's got to be one of the best steaks I’ve had in Edinburgh, and certainly better than some destinations that pride themselves on their beef...
My partner chose the breast of wood pigeon (£22), served with orzo and king oyster mushrooms. Almost painterly in presentation, this was a sophisticated dish that packed a punch portion-wise. Creamy, Parmesan-flecked orzo provided a bed for a plump pink breast of pigeon, with a splatter of jus and chunky mushrooms to help soak up the sauce. Elegant and beautifully cooked, so I’m told, this was devoured in mere moments (no mean feat, given the sizeable amount).
Dessert was was the only weak spot of my experience, and I'm a dessert fiend. The double chocolate brownie (£8) was served with a caramel sauce and salted caramel ice cream (according to the menu.) The brownie itself was squidgy, warm and oozing with cocoa. However, my ice cream was definitely vanilla (and forgotten about by the kitchen... it had to be brought along separately), while the caramel tasted and looked very much like the condensed version in a tin that your granny might buy in a supermarket. Given the standard of the previous two courses, it felt a little disappointing.
Redeeming this, my partner's sticky toffee pudding (£8) was heralded as a classic and, once again, devoured in record time. Dense and stodgy, rich and flavourful, it was a delicious finish. The only criticism was that he would have preferred more of the velvety butterscotch sauce. So perhaps order the sticky toffee pudding for your dessert here, and request a little pot of sauce for the side.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Overall, our experience of Drinks & Dining at Ten Hill Place was very positive. It’s never going to be a date-night destination, but for a great meal and attentive service, you can't go wrong. The menu is diverse and the staff are very attentive and helpful. The quality of ingredients and cooking is undeniable too; you certainly won’t be disappointed with the food on offer here.
You'll find Drinks & Dining at Ten Hill Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9DS.