Every season brings change: this summer, Paul Tamborini left the Macdonald Hotel Holyrood and set off on new adventures. The new restaurant is Surf & Turf, a second outing for a concept that’s worked well for the Macdonald Hotels in St Andrews. I went to investigate.
The decor hasn’t hanged much since it was Paul Tamborini’s Bistro De Luxe: the room is elegant in grey and black with marble topped tables and sparkling accents. We sat comfortably in one of the upholstered, semi-circular booths with a good view of the room
and the bad.
Surf & Turf offers more than beef and seafood but we didn’t go there. We passed on the veggie options – herb risotto, gnocchi, flatbreads – and looked at the steak and classics sections of the menu.
There’s a good selection of starters and bites, sharing dishes (beach or farm) and dishes that can be large or small. I imagine the Surf & Turf charcuterie platter would be great with a bottle of red wine after work. We ordered the hand-picked scallops and Scottish langoustines to start.
The scallops came with two types of roe (salmon and lumpfish at a guess) and a rather yummy yuzu mayo. They were perfectly cooked, sweet and plump, the roe giving pops of salt and the mayo a rich contrasting citrus flavour. (It was rather good with the bread, too.)
The langoustines were grilled, halved and served with garlic and herb butter. They were sweet, firm and very delicious, all the more so for giving us some real resistance (those claws are harder to get into than I remember).
Hooves all the way
I opted for steak frites and swapped the pepper sauce for Bearnaise. My companion went for the 200 gram sirloin, which comes with roasted bone marrow (so rich and good) and vine tomatoes. We had a long conversation about whether 200 grams of steak was a tiny amount of a generous amount. Obviously that depends on how you’re having it but rare, yup, it’s enough. You can get up to a kilo (for sharing, I hope). We also had broccoli Hollandaise.
Steak frites is a classic made with a slightly cheaper cut of meat, usually. I asked for mine rare since I like to get the full meaty flavour. Bearnaise is my favourite sauce because it’s good with meat and it is a great chip dip. (As is Hollandaise. I tested.) There was also a side salad which was very welcome with all that protein and carbs.
We were too stuffed for dessert. Sticky toffee pudding is delicious, but not light, nor is chocolate mousse – despite being mostly air – or cheese cake. However tempting the dessert menu, sometimes, there’s no room. So instead we had coffee and mint tea and I found that I had room for petite fours.
Surf & Turf serves well chosen and carefully cooked Scottish ingredients. It’s honest, tasty food. As you’d expect, good produce means a high-ish price point. The Market Menu offers three courses at £25 which is good value. For premium Aberdeen Angus, steaks start at £20. The environment is cosy and the service friendly and attentive. I’d happily meet a friend here for a catch up, a charcuterie board or maybe a Scottish beach on a board and a bottle of wine.
I still think of Holyrood as off the beaten track but that’s because of where the centre of my world is in the West End. Surf & Turf Holyrood is off The Royal Mile, along from Hemma, close to the Parliament. It’d be a classy place to have lunch after a stroll up Arthur’s Seat. However you find it, bring your love of Scottish surf and turf when you go.
81 Holyrood Road
EH8 8AU Edinburgh
Telephone: 0344 879 9028