Twenty Princess Street – winter warmers

The last time I was at Twenty Princes Street it was with Amy and we did the grill a disservice by not ordering from it. (Oysters! Lobster!) This time, I took Christopher, resident vegetarian, for a pick-me up meal on a chilly Thursday.

Hello, handsome! I think I've mentioned my love of lamb before. This lil' leg was treated with utmost respect.

Hello, handsome! I think I’ve mentioned my love of lamb before. This lil’ leg was treated with utmost respect.

Twenty Princes Street hasn’t changed in style since we were there last year: the dining room is lage, bright and welcoming, cosy booths scalloping the far wall offers more intimate dining spaces. Christopher and I were at my favourite table in a bow window with a good view both of Edinburgh after dark and the room at large. It was Christopher’s first time there. He liked the layout and style of the room, how it felt like an Edinburgh restaurant.

New seasons bring new menus and we were there to review the latest incarnation. The Twenty Princes Street grill staples are still there. The Josper grill is still the kitchen’s pride and joy. And again we didn’t order from it. (Sorry.) What can I say? The non-steak options are very tempting.

Squid ink and Taleggio

It was Burn’s night so I considered starting with the haggis French toast but decided to go with the squid-ink raviolo with crab. Christopher chose gnocchi with Taleggio and Peppadew peppers. Other options were mussles, highland rabbit and ale pie or seared scallops. It all read well.

My raviolo was beautiful. It came with a proud squidink crisp which was wilted with a shellfish and Earl Grey broth. The pasta shell was stuffed full of delicious crab and the broth was sweet and rich.

Squid-ink raviolo: stuffed full of lovely crab.

Squid-ink raviolo: stuffed full of lovely crab.

Christopher’s gnocchi came wrapped in a thin crostini shell, pretty as a picture. The gnocchi were soothing and soft, the Taleggio meltingly rich. The Peppadews – small, crisp, red pickled sweet and hot peppers – were welcome to add a flash of acidity and heat to the otherwise very rich dish.

Gnocchi with Taleggio.

Gnocchi with Taleggio.

Kale and lamb

For mains I went straight for the lamb shank, bypassing steaks, burger, guinea fowl supreme, steak sandwich and stone bass supper. The vegetarian main was an aubergine stew which I thought sounded delicious but Christopher couldn’t eat. Instead he had a massive kale, cranberry and pine kernel salad. (Our thanks to the kitchen for being a little flexible.)

The salad was well dressed and had a number of superfood seeds – sultanas, goji berries, cranberries – to add sweetness and texture. The pinenuts provided nice hits of woodsy flavour and crunch.

This is a super-sized serving of a super-food kale salad.

This is a super-sized serving of a super-food kale salad. And hand-shadow.

The lamb shank came with roasted garlic mash and an olive chard – an olive crostini. The lamb fell off the bone, just like it should, and was rich and wonderful on a cold day. I love good mash and ate all of the generous, pepper-bejeweled mash on my plate. The meat was the king of the plate.

When you know someone well, you can run your eyes down a menu and pick what they are likely to have. We looked at desserts and I knew immediately what Christopher would chose and he knew what I’d want. It did all look good – Twenty Princes Street does do fun desserts – but two stood out to us. So no buttermilk banana bread pudding or flaming baked alaska for us. Instead:

Quince and beetroot

Christopher’s quince frangipane was just as delicious as it sounded. The spiced crust was delicious, the frangipane cooked just right, and the quince gorgeously perfumed.

Quince franginpane: lovely! I ate all of the ginger cream. That was lovely too.

Quince franginpane: lovely! I ate all of the ginger cream. Yum.

My beetroot parfait walked a fine line between rich, earthy beetroot and something sweet and gentle. I think it could have done with more beetroot but I understand why they were easy on that flavour. As it was, the parfait wasn’t overly sweet which I was grateful for. It came served with a wonderful chocolate icecream, chocolate soil, chocolate shards and beetroot puree. It was one of the most beautiful desserts I’ve seen: very painterly.

From one hotel to another: the Balmoral looking good at night.

From one hotel to another: the Balmoral looking good at night.

Twenty Princes Street offers an interesting menu of well-thought through and executed dishes. With a cosy dining room, friendly and efficient staff and fine views of Edinburgh and Waverley, it’s a good option for dinner. We had a friendly mid-week pick-me-up. It’s an equally good place for date night or to meet friends. Remember to leave space for dessert.

Twenty Princes Street

20 Princes Street

Telephone: 0131 652 7370
Book online.

Caroline dined at the invitation of Twenty Princes Street.

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About Caroline von Schmalensee

Cooking, eating and drinking is fun as well as necessary. I do food for fun and I write for a living. Good food makes the world a more delicious and satisfying place. Good writing, meanwhile, can make the world a less confusing place.

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