You’ve probably heard of Gleneagles - I mean, who hasn’t? I’ve had a stay at the renowned countryside hotel on my bucket list for quite some time, so when I heard they’d opened a new venture in the city centre? I knew I had to visit. Steeped in luxurious history, Gleneagles Townhouse now stands proudly on St Andrews Square, boasting boutique guest rooms, a private members' club and a rooftop bar. But what I was really here for was The Spence in Edinburgh, a swanky all-day restaurant.
As you walk in, you're met with an impressive view, the kind that takes your breath away. The grand bar in the middle of the room, paired with a striking glass dome roof and encompassed by ornate original brass features, was like something from a Fitzgerald novel. Elegant colours and furnishings mirrored those used in the original Gleneagles hotel, making the whole experience feel truly special. I’m a sucker for Instagrammable interiors, and this restaurant certainly delivered.
Once we’d managed to steer our attention away from the surroundings, we explored the menu. It was a surprisingly glorious day in the capital, and as the sun poured through the exquisite glass dome roof, we knew a bottle of Terre Del Noce pinot grigio rosé (£35) would be a winner. The dry, easy-drinking wine went down a treat as we whiled away the afternoon.
With a glass of vino in hand, it was time to kick off our meal by ordering some starters. After obsessing about the creamy cheese all summer, I went for the burrata (£16) with heritage tomatoes and peach - a fantastic accompaniment to my pinot grigio. Simple, fresh flavours were what I was craving and this delightful seasonal dish fit the bill to a tee. Although my mum just couldn't say no to the pork and pistachio terrine (£12) with pickled walnuts, a lovely, wholesome plate that felt like a much-awaited step back into autumnal fare.
I’d checked out The Spence's menu online before we went (as always) and had already decided on the East Coast cod (£29) for my main, which I was very excited to try. It came on a bed of chorizo, mussels and borlotti beans - any dish that involves chorizo and mussels is a yes from me. On the other side of the table, the roast chicken (£26) that my mum ordered was a perfect partner to her starter, accompanied by potato terrine, peas and broad beans.
Despite being beyond full, as soon as we caught a glimpse of the dessert trolley wheeling its way to us, we of course had to make room for one. The bite-sized puds were a teaser of what was to come, with some available as a full portion on the a la carte menu, which we decided to order off. My mum chose a peach, elderflower and Champagne cheesecake (£10) paired with peach sorbet. Beautifully presented, it tasted creamy and decadent, showcasing subtle flavours. After being very torn between, well let’s face it, all of them, I couldn’t resist the temptation of strawberry and lime pavlova (£10). This was definitely one of those occasions when it looked almost too pretty to eat, but it tasted every bit as good as it looked.
The DesignMyNight Digest
While I’ve not been to the brand's original hotel, The Spence restaurant in Gleneagles Townhouse was everything I dreamed it would be. From the interiors and furnishings right through to the gastronomic delights, you couldn’t fault the level of detail and precision that has gone into creating this tranquil escape. Another visit is definitely on the cards, especially for The Spence Brunch Club, which takes place on the last weekend of every month. A lavish buffet and indulgent dessert room? Count me in.
💰 The damage: £130 for two plus service charge.
📍 The location: No. 39 St Andrews Square, Edinburgh, EH2 2AD.
👌 Perfect for: Everything from special occasions to coffee with friends.
⭐ Need to know: Choose a bite-sized dessert (or two) from the trolley if you fancy something sweet but not too filling.