Grand accommodation in Edinburgh's New Town
Arriving at the George Hotel we were met by a member of staff offering us each a glass of fizz. Check-in was quick and painless - minutes at the most and that included a change to our pre-arranged dining time.
Our room was on the 6th floor. The room was spacious with a large bed and contained everything you might need - toiletries (including hand towels, toothbrush etc if required), TV, iPod dock, slippers, robes, iron/ironing board and of course tea and coffee making facilities. The en-suite had a bath/shower and also available was a network cable for internet.
However, it was the view looking north over Edinburgh rooftops towards the Firth of Forth and hills of Fife, and the comfort of the bed that won me over - two types of pillows, one firm and one soft. I always struggle with pillows as I'm fussy but with these two I was happy.
After refreshing ourselves we made our way to Tempus, the in-house bar and restaurant.
It was busy but we were able to get a booth at the rear of the bar. Modern styled, with chandeliers, leather seated booths, and a vast array of drinks available. The cocktail list caught our eye, with names such as Prickly Pear and Lemon Meringue Pie amongst the long list available.
Lemon Meringue Pie £7.95
Ketel One Citron, Limoncello, Apple and caramelized foam
A Side Car Named Desire £7.95
Courviousier XS, Xante Pear Liquer, Cherry Marnie and Lemon
Prickly Pear £9.75
Xante Pear Liqueur, Crème de Cacao Blanc, Fresh Chilli with Champagne
Champagne Charlie £9.25
Xante Pear Liquer, Maraschino Liqueur, Lemon Vanilla topped with Champagne
Compared to some other cocktails bars we have been to, you could taste the flavours. They didn't seem to be watered down with excess juices or ice (even the Side Care Named Desire filled with chipped ice kicked a punch).
After our cocktails we made our way to the main restaurant – a resplendent dining area with decadent décor, curved padded booths and individual tables surrounded by large paintings, an ornate roof and filled with quick serving staff.
We ordered a red as we both had our eyes on meat for our mains (Argento Seleccion Malbec £23.95 for a bottle) and settled down to peruse the menu.
There was a good selection of items on the menu and starters range from salads with fish cakes or duck as well as vegetarian to mussels, salmon, haddock and my favourite standby pâté.
We both decided to go for fish options in contrast to our mains and decided on Loch Fyne smoked salmon, salt-baked beetroot with citrus crème fraîche at £6.95
Peat smoked haddock tart, char-grilled spring onions with hollandaise sauce for £5.95. The Hollandaise sauce was spot-on and absolutely delicious, the egg was poached perfectly - a tiny bit hard-boiled but still runny – perfect for coating the tart, the pastry crust was firm and the haddock lovely. All the ingredients worked together superbly.
Mains include scallops, black pudding risotto, venison Wellington, mushroom raviolli, chicken ballotine but we decided on roast rump of lamb with white bean casserole, chorizo and lamb jus at £16.95. We were asked how we'd like it cooked and we asked for rare, I'd say that what we got was more medium-rare but it was still lovely and tender, seasoned well, and full of flavour and juices.
We also ordered a 28 day Ballindalloch fillet steak with real chips and Béarnaise sauce at £24.95 plus £1.95 for sauce.
We asked for rare again and got meat which was moist and melt-in-the-mouth soft, this is my favourite cut and it was treated the way it should be. The Béarnaise sauce had just the right amount of Tarragon to not overpower but enough to lift the meaty taste of the steak. Fluffy and crispy chips that Heston would be proud of. Another excellent dish.
We also ordered sides of green beans and a tomato salad and both were fresh and flavoursome.
Desserts ranged from rhubarb crumble, chocolate tart, cheese board, but we chose the caramelised bread pudding with amaretto poached pear, clotted cream and spiced almonds at £5.50.
Unfortunately the bread pudding was overcooked looking and very dry and needed (rather than be complimented by) the cream to moisten the bread. The pear was solid and I think the Amaretto was sitting with the spiced almonds in the bar! 😉
We also opted for toffee pecan cheesecake with salted caramel ice cream at £5.95. Mr M loves cheesecake and it had a nice crumbly base but it wasn't really "vintage" cheesecake material. The flavours were a bit too subtle - the ice-cream was supposed to be salted caramel ice cream but he wasn't really getting it but it was still a very pleasant dessert.
We finished our meal and were both extremely pleased with the quality of the food, the portions were filling and we were both very full. Service was also well-paced; our waitress on the evening was very attentive and happy to answer any questions about the dishes.
After being seated at our table and introduced to our waitress, we ordered toast and coffee for two. There are two options, continental breakfast for £13.50 or hot breakfast for £16.50. We ordered naturally smoked haddock and poached egg as well as French toast with bacon and maple syrup. For an extra charge you can order eggs Benedict or a 28-day rib steak as well as a few other options.
Whilst waiting for this we wandered around to look at the rest of the buffet. A central area holds cereals (you can order porridge), pastries, jams, various fruit juices and bread. In between the bar and restaurant rooms there is a hot buffet area with typical breakfast items and a cold buffet with fresh fruit, fruit compote, yoghurt, cheese and meat. There is also an area for pancakes but the warmer was closed over with no obvious indication of what was inside and no one appeared to help when we were around.
Our orders arrived – however, the toast (3 white and 2 brown) was cold and the waitress brought just a single coffee and a tea which we didn’t ask for so we had to wait for her to return with a second coffee.
The haddock was really nicely cooked and the eggs poached perfectly again with the yolk oozing out over the fish. An excellent choice. The French toast was light and the large meaty slices of bacon covered the triangles of toast, however, it wasn’t the strongest tasting.
We asked for more toast and then made a trip to the hot and cold buffet. Unfortunately after the delicious first items we were disappointed. From the hot buffet the scrambled eggs were watery and the sausage and black pudding were bland and tasteless. I tried a scoop of Kedgeree and it wasn’t very spiced and rather dry from sitting under the hot lamps.
At the cold buffet there wasn’t a particularly large array of cold cuts or cheeses and the cheddar cheese and mortadella looked like they had been sitting out for a while. After we had finished more cold toast arrived!
Thankfully we could settle for a while due to the civilized later check out time. We, however, had an appointment and had to leave before 12. Being offered to keep our luggage at the hotel was a blessing, and another bonus from the friendly staff.