It wasn’t that long since we last visited The Printing Press – you may remember Kerry’s evening at the Chef’s Table. But it’s a new year, a new season. We’re back to try the spring menu. (Spoiler: it’s good.)
The Printing Press Bar & Kitchen is in The Principal Hotel on George Street. Many moons ago the restaurant was Tempus at The George and I went here for red wine and beef Wellington. Those were stuffier days. Now, the space is open, shiny with glass, checker-board floors, dark wood and white walls. The ceiling is high, the walls seem to glow and there’s a sweeping bar in the back of the restaurant. It’s a glamorous space.
My food writer colleagues and I sat at a table in the middle of the room. We had a delicious tasting menu with wine pairings to look forward to. With phones and extra lights (I bring your attention to the rign Selfie Light, which Adele from Tartan Spoon introduced me to) and cameras to hand, we finished our proseccos and The Skull and the Star (a liquid chocolate raspberry concoction) cocktails and got ready. It’s a hard life, this eating business*.
A taste of spring
The first course was an Orkney crab and leek thermidor tart. Leek foam coloured it a vivid green. It was warm, buttery, utterly lush. So perfect paired with champagne.
It was followed by a burrata and chicory salad with blood orange and a chilli dressing matched with a vinho verde. This dish caused a bit of a stir. There was enough chilli to tickle the tongue but maybe too much to let the wine sing. The burrata was fresh and deliciously, meltingly milky. The bitter elements – chicory and blood orange – balanced the cheese and I liked the heat from the chilli.
The scrabster cod with broccoli and caviar butter sauce was lovely. When I go out, I look for a good fish dish more often than not and this qualifies. The fish was perfectly flaky, the broccoli fresh and green, the sauce positively luxe. The Albarinho served with it went down well.
With the next dish we had our first red wine, a jammy Malbec. As you might guess, the dish it accompanied could stand up to it. Pan fried venison, rare and juicy, served with spinach, caramelized celeriac and a herb crumb. It was a pretty dish: the blue-red meat, the green crust. It was a pleasure to eat too: the meaty venison and the the sweet celeriac told tales of seasons past.
Double dessert? OK, I’ll take that.
The first was a palate cleanser of chocolate sorbet served with a soft red wine. The sorbet was dark and rich and very much not an ice cream. It took my palate a second to readjust my expectations from creamy to ice-crystal fresh but once it had, I was on board with this surprisingly sophisticated pairing.
The main dessert was a vanilla créme brulé – served wide and thin, creamy and rich – and a Porn Star Martini. I don’t know what it is about fruity, cheerful cocktails that means they get sexy names (I enjoy both a Comfortable Screw and Sex on the Beach). This passion fruit take on the Martini comes with a shot of prosecco and there was some discussion as to whether it should go in into the Martini or be drunk separately. I didn’t partake in the conversation because I’d already downed my fizz. The tangy cocktail helped balance the richness of the créme brulé.
I’ve enjoyed all my visits to The Printing Press Var &Kitchen but this one most of all. They’re settling in, finding their voice. This spring menu is well considered and shows creativity. It cannily focuses on ingredients that can be sourced locally. The menu offers something for apetites big and small, and the dishes are balanced. There’s texture and flavour on each of these pretty plates.
* No, it really isn’t and I’m hugely privileged to be doing it.
21-25 George Street
Edinburgh, EH2 2PB
Telephone: 0131 240 7177