Restaurateur Des McDonald has brought his latest project ‘The Printing Press Bar and Kitchen’ to the George hotel in Edinburgh. The Printing Press ethos is about celebrating great food and drink using only the finest Seasonal Ingredients. Head chef, Colin Fleming is a young, ambitious Scottish chef who has worked under the likes of Nick Nairn and Martin Wishart. By showcasing his talent with Des McDonalds experience The Printing Press Bar and Kitchen should be on to a winner.
I was kindly invited to an exclusive tasting event before the restaurant opened its doors to the public.
When I arrived I was greeted and welcomed before being shown to the bar area. Here the barmen were certainly enthusiastic about the cocktails they had on offer. I was treated to a rum treacle cocktail which was presented in the original characteristic treacle tin. This was Havana 7 Year Old rum, apple juice and black treacle which was surprisingly not to sweet and still had a good kick of rum.
We soon went through to the dining area. The restoration of the listed Georgian townhouse has created an elegant restaurant capturing many special touches like the vintage typewriters and classic Scottish novels to highlight the capital’s rich literary heritage associated with the building itself.
The menu started off with a pre-starter of ‘Printing Pressed Ham Hock’ and ‘Ironbark Pumpkin Soup’. The ham hock was slightly under seasoned but was tasty nevertheless. The soup was presented in a little milk bottle with a straw; a quirky presentation but, for me, not very practical. The soup, however was very smooth and tasty.
Printing Pressed Ham Hock and Pumpkin Soup
The next course ‘Loch Fyne diver scallops ink barley, garlic & parsley butter’ was delicious. The plump scallop was perhaps a little overcooked but the overall flavour of the dish was very good. The barley was al dente, adding texture, and the squid ink did not overpower the delicate scallop. This was a very well balanced and tasty dish.
Loch Fyne diver scallops ink barley, garlic & parsley butter
‘Roast wood Pigeon Heritage Beetroot and Hazelnut Crowdie’ was to follow. Despite me often wondering if beetroot is a fad food I do always enjoy it with Pigeon. This was no exception. The pigeon was still pink and very succulent. The hazelnut crowdie and beetroot were a great match for the pigeon and gave the dish some vibrant colour.
Roast wood Pigeon Heritage Beetroot and Hazelnut Crowdie
The fish course was ‘Seabass and sea vegetables’. This was nice but for me it did not stand out as much as the other dishes. The seabass skin was crispy and the flesh was well cooked and flaked easily. Unfortunately the vegetables had lost a lot of their flavour as they were a little overcooked.
Seabass and sea vegetables
One of the menu’s signature dishes Josper grilled Venison, Braised Cabbage and Brambles was definitely one of my favourite dishes of the night. The Josper grill gave the Venison a unique charred flavour. The foraged brambles added sweetness, complimenting the venison and the slight bitterness from the cabbage.
Venison, Braised Cabbage and Brambles
To finish off the meal we had ‘Cranberry & Blossom Honey Burnt Cream’. The burnt cream itself was smooth and creamy. I was concerned that the addition of honey and cranberries would be over complicating this delicate dessert but I was surprised. Both elements added extra depth of flavour and made the dessert even more delicious. This was a great way to end the meal.
Cranberry & Blossom Honey Burnt Cream
Throughout the meal Des McDonald talked passionately about his new venture and the vision he has for The Printing Press Bar and Kitchen. I thought the food was really good and of a high standard, I am just unsure if the main focus is on the restaurant or bar. When I asked I was told both but this can often be the downfall to many establishments. I hope that The Printing Bar and Kitchen plays to its strengths. One thing is for certain; there were a lot of positives to this meal and I am looking forward to returning soon.
Unlike my other reviews I have not given The Printing Press a score as I was kindly invited to attend this special evening prior to the restaurant opening. I really enjoyed my evening, the food, service and atmosphere was at a high standard but the dishes we were served were only samples and there was no idea of how much the food would cost once the restaurant opened. Therefore I am unable to comment on value for money which is normally a key part of my scoring system.