The Rutland Hotel
A bling thing
If the auld claes and porridge of the economic recession are getting a bit tiresome, the refurbished Rutland Hotel is yet another Capital spot for defiant decadence. Donald Reid put on his glad rags
Once upon a time Edinburgh was slightly superior. Now the Glasgwegification of the capital has swaggered out of George Street and onto the West End. Nose onto Princes Street, with its tantalising views of the Castle, Calton Hill and Edinburgh’s historic roadworks, and you’ll see that the Rutland Hotel is back on the map after a long period in faded obscurity.
Reopened this summer by Nic and Garreth Wood’s Signature Pub Group, one of a number of small but ambitious Edinburgh bar-restaurant-club operations, the hotel has four floors lavishly fitted out with chandeliers, extravagant seating, expensive wallpapers and moody lighting.
The 12 bedrooms have king-size plasma screens and relentless modern baroque decor, while the late-night lounge club in the basement boasts gimmicks/impressive features (you choose) such as a touch-reactive bar and a string of intimate, low-ceilinged alcoves with iPod docking stations and built-in champagne buckets.
The restaurant, located on the first floor, has its own sultry look in deep red and black with mirrored columns, heavy leather armchairs and three eight-seater tables half screened by stringy drapes and positioned in the prime spots looking out to Princes Street and the Castle.
For the dining experience, it’s welcome that the restaurant is separated, at least physically, from the glitz and glamour all around. Cleverly, the hubbub of the street-level bar travels up through a central opening, giving a bit of background warmth to the intense chill out soundtrack.
If the food was to live up to the tone set elsewhere in the hotel, it could be some sort of gruesome modern mish-mash. Head chef David Haetzman, however, puts too much faith in decent, simple produce – a respectable amount of it Scottish and not too pricey – to fall into that obvious trap. He has plates of shellfish or smoked fish, grilled meat and whole lemon sole adorned with little more than a salty butter and new potatoes.
When things head into more complicated territory, such as roast quail cleverly stuffed with light black pudding mousse, the imaginative instinct is strong, though in the case of cauliflower and pistachio koftas a bold dish is tainted a little by a sourish tamarind aftertaste.
However much the main menu shows restraint, a place clearly attracting those investment bankers who still have a job and footballers’ wives spending their man’s generous (if delayed) wage packet, desserts need to dress to impress. They do, with an 80s-tribute peach melba and a light, sharp lemon posset – the latest in dessert trends spawned of creme brulee and lemon tart getting it on. After all, they’d spent a lot of time in each other’s company.
1–3 Rutland Street, Edinburgh
0131 229 3402, www.therutland.com
Two course business lunch £12;
average price two-course evening meal £22
Take Three: Over the top and away we go
Fifi & Ally
80 Wellington Street, Glasgow, 0141 226 2286, www.fifi-and-ally.com
Despite Edinburgh’s interpretation of gallus Glasgow, there aren’t that many examples of OTT extravagance. Here, a boudoir-esque interior of black gossamer lampshades, ornate mirrors and ‘cirque de soleil’ wallpaper is matched by fresh, well-prepared and often beautiful looking food.
The Cameron Grill
De Vere Cameron House Hotel, by Balloch, 01389 755565, www.devere.co.uk
An attempt at themed extravagance in a country setting, Cameron House’s bistro-grill aims for the atmosphere of a decadent Highland chieftain’s feast, with huge crackling fireplaces, oversized armchairs and a sweeping ‘Last Supper’ mural. The menu is predictably dominated by large hunks of meat.
125 George Street, Edinburgh, 0131 225 5005, www.tigerlilyedinburgh.co.uk
Never knowingly modest in any degree, from the chain-mail drapes to the louche pink lighting, TigerLily is the wonderfully ridiculous and defiantly decadent queen of bling in Edinburgh’s over-styled heartland. Food amonst the champagne includes sharing platters, seafood and dessert cocktails.