It’s amazing how you can go away for your Christmas break, only to arrive back and find another new eating and dining establishment has opened in Edinburgh. The place in question is the Courtyard by Marriott with the Lantern Room restaurant and bar, which had opened on 28 December on Baxter Place, just in time for Hogmanay.
This is good news for me as when I’m not writing for Edinburgh Foody and working in my day job, you’ll often find me taking in some culture at one of Edinburgh’s many theatres. With its location so close to the Edinburgh Playhouse and indeed my home, The Lantern Room restaurant and bar is going to become a regular haunt for some pre-theatre eats that won’t cost an arm and a leg.
The Lantern Room all-day bar and restaurant, in the hotel’s ground floor lobby, takes its inspiration from Scotland’s sea-faring history. There’s also an outdoor terrace with heaters, where drinks are served; not that we partook of this outside dining option as it was ‘brass monkeys’ the night we visited.
The hotel has a fascinating past with links to sea-faring history.
Graeme Morton, the restaurant’s very helpful and knowledgeable manager, gave us a fascinating insight into the building’s heritage and artwork. The hotel’s Baxter’s Place address was once home to Robert Stevenson, the famous Scottish lighthouse engineer and the grandfather of ‘Treasure Island’ author Robert Louis Stevenson.
References to its heritage, presented with the help of the Stevenson family and the Northern Lighthouse board, appear in the public area, including the restaurant, with images, technical drawings, maps and lots of lanterns, hence the name.
The chef in charge of the kitchen is David Watson, who is in charge of the other eight chefs keeping the hotel guests well-fed, who previously worked at Norton House Hotel.
All day dining
The Lantern Room is open all day bar and restaurant serves local fare with a modern twist. Whilst they have a fixed price menu (£18 for 2 courses, plus £4 extra for a dessert), it is possible to also order off the evening menu, which has small and sharing plates, burgers , mains, grills, and desserts on offer.
My dining companion for the evening was Derek, who will be editing the new food and drink pages for the online cultural reviews’ site, TV Bomb, focusing on great places for pre and post theatre dining and places to grab a coffee and a slice near some of Edinburgh’s great cultural spots.
We opted for a couple of the small plates of spicy chicken wings with lemon aioli (£4.00), which were beautifully tender and served with a wedge of lime and BBQ pulled pork spring rolls with some soy sauce (£4.95) to share for starters.
For mains, I opted for the braised beef brisket with mac & cheese and coleslaw which at £11.95 was very reasonably priced. A self-confessed glutton and mac & cheese fan, I was somewhat disappointed with the initial size of the mac & cheese and coleslaw, which come served in ramekins. However I had to admit at the end that they were the perfect size. I even had to share with Derek as the portion was actually too large for me to finish.
The mac & cheese was creamy and beautifully complemented the slow-cooked beef, served with an extra jug of gravy, which is a nice touch.
Derek opted for the sage gnocchi, butternut squash, spiced aubergine caviar, sun-dried tomato and olive tapenade (£10.50). Pretty as a picture in its presentation, the dish was full of flavour and the gnocchi, not something I am usually a fan of, had a lovely crisp texture.
We shared a home-made glazed lemon tart, with mini meringues and raspberry coulis (£5.95). It came served with a scoop of raspberry ice-cream, which whilst wasn’t homemade, tasted like it was.
The lemon tart had just the right level of tartness, a perfect crisp glaze and the perfect thickness of pastry base.
All in all it was the perfect evening, with great service. The ability to choose from the fixed price menu or choose from the a la carte is a great option, which I hope is here to stay. I don’t want a full blown meal when I’m going to the theatre as I’m likely to fall asleep so being able to opt for small plates, alongside a glass of wine or cocktail, is the perfect solution.
And for rugby fans, with the Lantern Room’s excellent location near the start of the tram on York Place, it’s also a perfect place for a pre-match meal or drink. Word on the street is they also have Barney’s Beer van there from time to time too on the outside terrace.
Kerry ate as a guest of the Lantern Room