Plate With A View: Forth Floor, Harvey Nichols, Edinburgh
Saturday 30 October 2004
A veritable world tour of a menu: choose from Scottish beef fillet, lamb marinated in Moroccan spices, pigs' trotters, veal fillet with rosti, Oban scallops, gnocchi, gravadlax, and foie-gras terrine. But it works. We tried grilled organic salmon with saffron potatoes and a herb and lardon dressing, and pan-fried halibut with chorizo-and-thyme croquette and beetroot salsa. Side orders included roast butternut squash with cumin and cabbage. The intimidating array of ingredients was redeemed by the consistently high quality of both the produce and chef Stuart Muir's cooking. Adventurous puddings included chilled red-berry and champagne soup with mascarpone parfait, banana tarte tatin with vanilla ice-cream, and Amaretto parfait with poached apricots.
Edinburgh has a quality rare among British cities, in that even from pavement level you can admire the rugged rural landscapes and mountainous horizons of the surrounding countryside. From a few floors up things look even better. Bag a window table at Forth Floor for dramatic views of the castle to the south and the Firth of Forth to the north. The restaurant's long wall of windows faces west, for which reason it's best to co-ordinate your dinner reservation with a sunset and - if you have friends in even higher places - a clear, Turneresque sky. Somewhat optimistically, a terrace for outside dining has been added, even though the Edinburgh air is more often bracing than balmy. As good as the outlook is from the restaurant, a superior view of the Firth can be seen through a panoramic window in the store's hi-fi department, but you can't eat your dinner beside the Bang & Olufsen.
Edinburgh has the some of the highest council-tax rates outside of London; in recent years the cost of living here has risen noticeably in every quarter, from property to pints of beer and the price of a fish supper. Our meal reflected this: main courses were mostly around £16, with each side dish costing £2.75. Starters range from £5.50 to a whopping £10.50, and puddings are £5-£6.
Forth Floor, Harvey Nichols, St Andrew Square, Edinburgh EH2 2AD (0131-524 8350; www.harveynichols.com). Restaurant and brasserie opening times vary: call or see website for details.
The writer travelled from London to Edinburgh with GNER ( www.gner.co.uk)
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