Food review: Twenty Princes Street
The upmarket city centre restaurant is more than just the Royal British Hotel's dining room
Bit by bit, Princes Street is piecing back together its claim as Edinburgh’s premier thoroughfare. Hannah Ewan visits a swanky new dining room where location counts thrice
The dam of tram works in the West End has opened up and soon the trams themselves will be shoogling (or swishing – who knows?) along Edinburgh’s majestic, open-sided main artery. Princes Street is on the comeback trail, something the Cairn Hotel Group has clearly worked out in both the title and the tone of its new restaurant.
Twenty Princes Street is the name and the address. It also happens to be located in the Royal British Hotel but, with extensive renovations going on, both the restaurant and its flash adjoining cocktail bar Juniper have their own distinct identity. As in a slew of hotels across Edinburgh in the last year, the aim is clearly to distinguish the venues from their hospitality setting and elevate them into destinations in their own right.
The first section of the hotel to be refurbished, the dining room is now fine-dining shiny in gold and black. Ask for a window table: the view across to the Balmoral is a big selling point. Twenty PS steps confidently into the list of venues in Edinburgh worth considering for a fancy date, an important business dinner or a celebrating group looking for a memorable setting and smart food.
The kitchen distinguishes itself with a Josper grill, a hugely expensive grill/oven hybrid that doesn’t lose moisture as it cooks – Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner has one, as does Hawksmoor. This means exceptional steak: a rare rib-eye is faultless, and even the accompanying tomatoes have an unusually rich, juicy flavour. Also typical of the menu is a deeply flavoured slow-cooked chicken leg with bacon mashed potato, and a rich, generously sized smoked halibut starter. Afterwards, a riff on favourite biscuits provides a bit of light relief for dessert, with ‘HobNob’ parfait, ‘Jammy Dodger’ ice cream and a ‘Custard Cream’ panna cotta.
The experience as a whole isn’t yet as sleek as the new décor, and although it doesn’t quite have the cachet (or the price tag) of some of its competitors, if you manage to bag the view and make use of that grill, this is definitely more than a hotel dining room.
+ Excellent house wine and a playful cocktail list
- Inauspicious entrance and unfinished corridors