For over one hundred years the Balmoral hotel has been a dominating landmark of Edinburgh’s city centre. It was in 1991 that the hotel was transformed and re opened as The Balmoral which in Gaelic stands for ‘majestic dwelling’. The restaurant ‘Number One’ at The Balmoral has boasted a Michelin star since 2004. This has been driven by Chef Jeff Bland and his team.
We were welcomed immediately as we entered the large dining area. The room was very grand with original artworks from The Royal College of Art adorning the walls. The tables are all well-spaced out giving you the opportunity to feel at ease. As we looked at the menu and drank our aperitif we were given our first taste of what was to follow.
The three canapés were very interesting in flavour and taste and divided the table’s opinion.
We opted for the tasting menu. To start was the ‘Amuse Bouche’; a butternut squash veloute with lobster. The veloute was very light and full of the ingredients’ natural flavours. The lobster shavings were sweet and juicy. The only fault with this dish was that I wanted more.
The next course was ‘Foie Gras’. This dish was not just about the smooth perfectly seasoned foie gras but the confit duck that sat alongside it. The duck was very tender and mouth-watering. The figs were an another component of the dish and were a perfect match to the robust rich flavours of the duck and foie gras. Served with a slice of buttery brioche, this was definitely an indulgent dish.
The colours of our next course certainly caught our eye. ‘Heritage Beetroot’ was an explosion of brightness and a very pretty looking plate of food. This was a very light dish of different textures of beetroot including a smooth beetroot sorbet. Goats curd gave the dish more creaminess and batons of apple added crunch and acidity.
‘Wild Sea Trout’ was to follow. This was a really nice dish but it didn’t quite hit the heights of the other dishes on the night. The trout did flake and was seasoned to perfection; however the skin was not as crisp as I expected. The caviar sauce was nice enough but it was very subtle and our table agreed the dish could have benefited from more of it. What made this dish was the juicy oyster which sat alongside the trout; a powerful mouthful of the sea.
Wild Sea Trout
For the final savory course we had ‘Orkney Beef’; succulent tender beef cooked rare. This was absolutely divine and full of bold flavors. The beef sat on a bed of smooth Baba Ghanoush with delicious bursts of pickle breaking through the creaminess. A sweetbread gave the dish another meaty texture and taste. The dish was brought together with a rich beef sauce and the hollowed out potato (made to look like a bone) filled with bone marrow added character and another dimension to the plate. This was one of the best dishes I have ever eaten.
Pre-dessert followed; a mouthful of tangy pineapple with a light cream and crunchy biscuit.
For dessert we had ‘Prune Souffle’. I have to admit this is not something I would have ordered if I saw it on a menu. However it was a very complex interesting dessert. The soufflé was well risen, perfectly cooked and filled with sweet baked prunes. The cardamom ice-cream and ginger biscuit which accompanied the souffle gave the dish a very festive flavour. I enjoyed trying this dessert but am unsure if I would order it again. This is purely down to personal taste as I’m not a big fan of prunes. There’s certainly nothing that can be criticised in terms of execution of the dish. Unfortunately the picture does not give the souffle justice, it was perfectly risen when it arrived at the table (apologies to the chef).
As we sat and took in what a wonderful meal we had had in such stunning surroundings, we were given petit fours to finish off. Instead of choosing the matching wines with the set menu, we asked the sommelier to guide us on one bottle of red, one white and a dessert wine. He was very passionate about the wine and throughout our meal made sure we were satisfied. He definitely made our experience even more special. Number One has managed to maintain its Michelin star for a reason; the food is spectacular, the dining area is grand and the staff are very attentive and friendly.
Bill: Set menu £75 per person (wine from £30 a bottle)
Food: Fine dining
Atmosphere: Grand, Relaxing, Comfortable