Restaurant review: The Honours
Superbly engineered Edinburgh brasserie from Martin Wishart team
Despite downturns and austerity times Martin Wishart and partner chef Paul Tamburrini have opened the doors on a glittering, superbly engineered brasserie, as Donald Reid reports
In a city packed with restaurants and a respectable array of upmarket and glitzy places to eat, The Honours brings something new to Edinburgh. It is not fine dining, nor fine-dining lite, nor pastiche French. Rather, it’s a classic metropolitain brasserie of the kind long admired in Paris, New York and Singapore, one defined by its impressive interior, all-day printed menu, range of dishes and service-led approach.
It opened three weeks before the Festival and while bedding in will be an ongoing process for a team with exacting standards, it’s already purring along nicely. For a chef who doesn’t do telly, the thousands of bookings the 70-cover restaurant has already taken is testament to the respect and loyalty Martin Wishart has earned among locals in the ten years since he won Edinburgh’s first Michelin star. For this venture, however, Wishart is part of the management – he remains at the helm in his original Leith restaurant, with Tamburrini running the Honours kitchen.
A comprehensive makeover of the former Cosmo and Tony’s Table site sees an interior of tiled floors, mirrored walls, grand lampshades and golden daubs. The main action is in a single, long dining room with the kitchen just visible at one end, to and from which the staff, led by the brusque bonhomie of maitre d’ Steven Spear, have a key role in setting the tempo of the place.
Starters range from soups and salads to charcuterie plates and a soufflé – the cheffiest item on offer. Further down the poster-sized menu and you’ll find macaroni, cottage pie, John Dory in a Sauternes sauce and a plate of veal sweetbreads. It’s certainly a menu with lots to discover. Prime steaks are cooked in a state-of-the-culinary-art Josper Grill, an indoor charcoal barbecue delivering 300C-plus temperatures, and the dessert list makes its own bid for the common touch by bigging up ice-cream sundaes. First-time diners here might be excused an indulgence in the menu’s flashier options – and you can spend £40 a head without effort, but in time the integrity of the simpler-sounding dishes, and the appealing value of a daily prix fixe option (three courses for £17.50 at lunch, or £19.50 pre-theatre), should sustain a wide range of diners and eating occasions.
+ In looks, menu, cooking and ambition, a clear notch above
- A great brasserie needs buzz - can Edinburgh’s often reverential diners let it loose?
58a North Castle Street, New Town, Edinburgh, EH2 3LU
0131 220 2513, www.thehonours.co.uk
Tue–Sat noon–2.30pm, 6–10.30pm; Sun 12.30–2.30pm. Closed Mon.
Ave. price two-course meal £26