A wee hop over the border for an Edinburgh `chill out` weekend break and i`m rewarded with another sparkling gem to add to my culinary crown. We`re all quite familiar with Edinburgh`s best eateries by now…Martin Wishart ( report to follow soon ) , Tom Kitchin , The Witchery , Castle terrace , 21212 etc .I was expecting to load my weekend dining up with a trip to those places but the opportunity arose to stay and dine at Prestonfield house just a small haggis throw from the city.( £7.00 in a taxi ). A friend had suggested to me that i might be pleasantly surprised at the quality of food in the Rhubarb restaurant situated within Prestonfield house so i decided to use the hotel as the base for my foodie weekend.Friday nights dinner would be at The Tower restaurant above the museum of Scotland. Saturday evening I`d dine at Martin Wishart in Leith and then finish off with Sunday lunch at the `Rhubarb restaurant`, Prestonfield house.Which now brings me around to explain the restaurants strange name….” Rhubarb “. I wondered where the the restaurant name had actually come from… “Rhubarb”…bit of a strange one there but simply explained – Sir Alexander Dick , one of Prestonfields first owners was the first person to introduce Rhubarb seeds to the UK after a trip to China.The plant was first planted in Scotland at Prestonfield in the 18th century and still grows there today in the garden.I would have loved to have seen a Prestonfield signature dish on the menu showcasing the wonderful fruit but also took my hat off to chef for sticking firmly with seasonal produce and leaving the Rhubarb roots tucked up under their pots in the garden for a couple of weeks longer….I shall return for the Rhubarb tasting dessert selection at a later date.
Prestonfield house is a five-star boutique hotel located in the Prestonfield area of the city of Edinburgh.The house was originally known as Priestfield and was once a monastery founded in 1150 by the Earl of Northumbria.Throughout the next few centuries, the estate changed hands many times until it was unfortunately burned to the ground by Protestant students in 1670.The family had the house re designed and built again by architect William Bruce and then renamed Prestonfield.The newly built estate stayed in the Dick family’s possession for many generations and over the years they continued to modify and improve the estate, adding more rooms, paintings, and a grand new staircase.In the years to come the new generations of the family spent less and less time at Prestonfield and this resulted in the preservation of the decor and character of the house remaining intact for the present day visitors to enjoy….it really is a trip back in time.
In the 1960s the house went through the conversion into a hotel and as it carried such an interesting history it began to attract and welcome quite a medley of well known and wonderful names….Margaret Thatcher , Sean Connery , Elton John , Catherine Zeta Jones and many many more.In 2003, the hotel was bought by James Thomson OBE , who also maintains the acclaimed – The Witchery by the castle, The Secret garden , and The Tower above the museum of Scotland.The bedrooms are to die for and simply put …. “lock the room door , crack open the Champagne , feast on the chocolates and just don`t come back out again” – apart to eat of course.The rooms are straight off a movie set and create the scene right from the starting post…..guaranteed to impress.
Executive Chef John McMahon is pretty well known in the Edinburgh area for creating Madonna’s wedding breakfast as well as heading up the Prestonfield kitchens around the clock.Breakfasts play a big part of the overall Prestonfield experience and i have now cast aside the the great English to rate the Scottish brekky as the “worlds best breakfast” …..Two free range eggs , grilled tomato , grilled Portabello mushroom , Cumberland sausage , Dry cure back bacon , Slices of Haggis , Ramsays Black pudding , Fruit pudding and Tatie scone….but where were the beans ? I`m more than sure that all i needed to do was simply ask and it would have been there.As for portion control…Whoaaaaaaa , this was a proper working blokes breakfast….I loved every morsel of itThe breakfast menu was enormous , so much choice.I have to admit that i`ve never seen a better selection in anywhere that i`ve ever stayed. i just didn`t know what to pick so over the two nights stay i just decided to plough through as much as possible …a proper man v food moment. I had to try the real Scottish Porridge.The organic Alford Oats are cooked slowly and gently throughout the night and served with the 3 traditional Scottish accompaniments…Salt , Heather Honey…..and Home made Lemon curd.I tried all three seperately but definitely favoured the sweeter Honey version.
The Kedgeree although rather tasty wasn`t my cup of tea …well not for breakfast anyways.I would have liked to see more smoked fish , chopped egg and a richer fruity curry sauce to accompany it….richer and a smaller portion.Saying that , i was in Scotland and as hearty breakfasts go then it was definitely a stomach filler.
The Eggs Benedict was amazing – Two soft poached Duck eggs on a home made potato scone , Honey roast Ayrshire gammon and wilted baby leeks lightly bathed in a wonderful buttery Hollendaise.
Fot the health conscious…or not there`s always the freshly baked pastries selection…or even a fresh fruit salad….Nahhhh
Breakfast fayre aside , i was here to sample the fine dining and was very eager to see exactly what Chef John was all about. As far as the basics go the hotel uses only the very best seasonal and wild ingredients to produce modern, seasonal, sustainable,Scottish cuisine…just how i like my food , rich and luxurious with classic influences.The kitchen team hang all their own meat and game, buy fish whole to portion it perfectly themselves and also utilise an expert forager to supply the wild fungi, seaweed, berries and herbs.Scallops come from Guy Grieve in Mull, Lobster from North Berwick, Strawberries from Perthshire, Glamis for Asparagus, Loch Duart salmon, local free range eggs and organic vegetables…the list goes on and on.They also grow the Rhubarb, tomatoes, baby leeks, lettuce and herbs in the grounds and pick wild garlic and elderflowers around the woodland”….sounds too good to be true , this place is a foodies dream hideaway….Which brings me finally around to the food….feast your eyes on this lot , and also compare the prices to their equivalent in London.
Guy Grieve`s hand dived Scallops , Cauliflower puree , Lovage , Chorizo , Apple and Truffle dressing , Confit Lemon.£18.50
Cured Foie Gras , Duck croustillant , Gizzard and Orange salad , Macadamia nuts , Madeira wine Jelly. £15.50
Isle of Kintyre wood Smoked Cheddar royale , salted Beetroot , Basil , Port and Pine nuts.£8.95
Seared and Poached Skate wing , capers , smoked tomato and Lemon butter sauce – Priced as part of the £16.95 two course set menu.
St Brides free range Chicken breast , Leg and Wing , braised Puy lentils , Hazelnut paste, Kohlrabi, Amontillado sherry jus.£25.00
Gressingham duck , roasted breast and pan fried liver, Plum sauce, Leeks, Turnips and Dauphine potatoes.£27.00
Bramley Apples with Rosemary , Caramel mousse , Black sesame seed paste and Granny smith jelly. £8.95
Coffee , Macarons , Fudge and Fruit jellies.
To view the full set of photos from my Rhubarb at Prestonfield lunch please CLICK HERE