I couldn’t believe my luck when I won a competition for a complimentary meal for two at Twenty Princes Street. I had previously reviewed this restaurant and thought everything was great; the setting, food and staff. This had been a midweek lunch with friends so I was excited to try the dinner menu on a Saturday night.
Unfortunately I had taken my photos on my phone which then broke. The presentation of the food was of a high standard and everything looked good on the plate. However, you do not eat with your eyes.
For starters I had the Buccleuch Black Pudding and Pork Belly Roll with apple puree and sage oil. The pork and black pudding were rolled in light and crispy pastry. Unfortunately I felt that the pork was rather dry which I was surprised about as it is difficult to dry out a piece of pork belly. The apple sauce had a slight tang as and a sweet taste which complimented the black pudding but I felt there was nowhere near enough of this to compensate for the dried out meat.
On the opposite side of the table, slow cooked octopus with Soft Gnocchi, Serrano ham and Smoked Paprika also had a few issues. The octopus was soft and tender but the Gnocchi had a strange texture. The naming of this element (Soft Gnocchi) made it sound interesting but when it arrived it was no more than potato puree which had a texture more like a paste and seasoned with Parmesan. Whats more, the dish was very small and very salty.
I had been indecisive when it came to ordering my main course but after the waiters recommendation I went for the Roasted Shellfish platter for 1. This was described as selection of the restaurants current stock of fresh crustaceans, served with garlic and lemon butter. I was not disappointed when it arrived. Again, this dish was extremely pleasing on the eye but that soon changed.
The scallops, lobster and langoustines were juicy and cooked well but the remaining elements of the dish left a lot to be desired. As I ate a mussel I thought initially I had eaten a piece of the shell. When I then ate a cockle all I could taste was grit. I tried another and got a mouthful of sand. Then when I looked I could actually see a thick layer of sand inside the shells. I was really appalled at this standard. Surely preparation of mussels and cockles is a basic in any kitchen that is prepared to serve them.
The other main titled ‘The Burnt Offering’ was not being well received either. This was Pork Loin with vegetable ash, pork belly, pea puree and asparagus. The main issue was that the pork was bone dry. This left us in a somewhat awkward situation. How do you complain when you are not paying? We decided that we would still be truthful when the waiting staff asked us how our meal was. This was taken out of our hands however, as despite leaving half of my meal no one asked if we enjoyed it. Despite the staff all appearing friendly we were never served by the same person twice. Perhaps this was why we were not asked.
To finish off, I am glad to say that I did enjoy my dessert; ‘Fire and Ice’. This was a Banoffee Baked Alaska. The element of theatre as it arrived was also a nice surprise. Presented on dry ice with rum on top which the waiter (another new face) then set alight. Inside were caramelised bananas, toffee and vanilla ice cream which were then covered in a light sponge and topped with toasted meringue. Very sweet but delicious.
When we asked for the bill (we had to pay for our cocktails) we were given the whole bill. I then had to explain to a different waiter we had won a competition. Again this showed the lack of communication amongst the staff. As I said previously the staff were all friendly but the level of service suffered with no dedicated waiter. In fairness, a large group of about 5 tables all arrived at the same time which seemed to divert the attention of the waiting staff so this is only a minor fault in comparison to the quality of the food being served. It could be argued that the chef will also have been under pressure from this group arrival but I would argue that no chef should have let the food leave the kitchen that arrived on our plates.
I felt that the whole meal and atmosphere was style over substance and I left feeling very disappointed. This may have just been an off day for this restaurant and I won’t say “stay away” as my previous experience here was a pleasant one. However, I do have to judge each dining experience separately and this was about as bad as it gets.
Twenty Princess Street
- Atmosphere - 5/105/10
- Food - 1/101/10
- Service - 2/102/10
- Value For Money - 2/102/10