Edinburgh born Chef Dominic Jack was awarded his first Michelin Star in October 2011. His restaurant Castle Terrace had a lot to live up to. With the continuing philosophy ‘From nature to plate’ Castle Terrace was following in the footsteps of its sister restaurant ‘The Kitchin’. Promising to deliver exceptional modern British cuisine with a French twist by using only fresh ingredients. Accompanied by my husband and two of our friends we were all looking forward to a night of indulgence.
We were immediately greeted by the front of house who kindly took our jackets and guided us to our table. On first impressions the restaurant was very relaxed and warming. However I did observe that many of the tables for 2 were very closely positioned. The menu had various sections including ‘celebration of the season’. I opted for both my starter and main from this menu. We also ordered a bottle of wine for the table.
Our Food experience began as our amuse busche arrived. Three small taste sensations. A salt cod barbajuan which was a salty crispy shell with a soft piece of cod, Caesar salad which was a liquid filled bite in which amazingly you could taste every ingredient of a Caesar salad.There was also a mini caper & cumin burger which had a slight sweet note from the bun. A basket of bread was also placed on the table, however there was no explanation of what types of bread they were.
Following this was a delicious appetiser. A taste of Carrot and Coriander finished off with a toasted Cumin crumble. This was very light and had many different texture sensations.
My starter was freshly brown picked crab served with mango, avocado and roasted red pepper. The mango was a sharp puree which brought a zingy taste to the sweet fresh crab. It was a light and fresh start to the meal.
To follow I opted for venison. A saddle of roe deer from Winton Estate served with braised cabbage, parsnip, celeriac, apple and chestnut. The venison melted in your mouth, cooked to perfection. The crumbled roasted apple and chestnut along with the parsnips brought the natural sweetness from the meat contrasting against the slightly bitter celeriac. The tart accompanied this meal had light and fluffy pastry which oozed butter, filled with soft braised venison. The sauce was rich and balanced the whole dish perfectly.
The others all ordered the lamb. Stuffed saddle of Inverurie lamb à la rognonnade, served with braised fennel, smoked aubergine purée and a basil and olive jus which gained rave reviews from everyone. On the down side the waiter took away our empty bottle of wine during this course without asking if we would like another. We expected him to come back but we actually had to get someones attention before we could order one. Normally this is not a problem for me but I often think that when you eat in a michelin starred restaurant and pay top dollar there is a level of expectation that wasn’t met on this occassion.
I was very excited on the arrival of my desert. Toffee soufflé served with ice-cream. The soufflé had risen and looked the part. Our waiter explained that the best way to eat the soufflé was to score of the top and place the ice-cream inside , pour the caramel sauce in then sprinkle the cruncy pieces of toffee on top, which he demosnstrated for us.
Unfortunately my first taste of the soufflé made me question if the mixture was overcooked. My husband also agreed describing the taste as ‘eggy’. There was no lightness in the texture and no distinct flavours. The toffee sauce was the only triumph of this dish, rich, sticky, smooth sweet caramel. This desert was certainly one that had style over substance.
To end the meal I ordered a coffee which arrived with petit fours. These were delicious; a caramel chocolate log, a mint macaroon and a madeleine.
The others opted for a whiskey. The whiskey trolley arrived and the waiter explained the different options of which there was many.
Overall I felt slightly let down by this Michelin star restaurant. Having to ask for a second bottle of wine, an over cooked dessert and an ordinary atmosphere meant that Castle Terace lacked attention to the finer details. Some of the food was exceptional, and some not so much. Castle Terrace certainly has a lot to improve on in my opinion to justify the price tag.
Bill for four: £340
Food: Modern British
Service: Almost there but not quite.
Atmosphere: Laid back but lacking ambience.
Overall: 6.5 / 10