Turning off the Royal Mile and following the enchanting fairy lights down the alley leading to Monteiths, there is a slightly magical feeling.
Despite being the only table in the restaurant, the atmosphere was cosy and comfortable, helped by the fire we sat next to. Whilst we read over the menu, we had an aperitif – an Apple-Bramble Swizzle and an Islay Collins (both £7.50). The first was a long, refreshing option whilst the whisky-based Collins with hints of rhubarb and cinnamon was pleasingly bitter.
Accompanying our food, we chose the trio of red wine (£10.50) with a Chilean Merlot, a Californian Zinfandel and South African Gamay Noir. Arriving on a wooden platter in ornate cut glass vestibules, it was a fun sampling opportunity.
Whilst we waited for our starters, we were presented with a fresh loaf of sundried tomato bread with a stunning date and chive butter. To start, I was intrigued by the combination of ham hock and scallop with pea purée (£11) which did not disappoint. My friend opted for the apple and endive salad with Roquefort and raisins (£6.50). The sweetness of the apple and raisin was accented by the tang of vinegar in the dressing and the smooth Roquefort, of which there was a tad too much.
Next, we stuck to the meat section of the menu. Across the table, my game-loving friend chose the juicy and tender wood pigeon (£15.50). The wedge of black pudding that accompanied dish, along with caramelised shallots, was on the very large side. My roast duck with Merguez sausage (£16) was perfectly pink and teamed delightfully with the strong flavours of the sausage. The white bean salad with corn and olive round was disappointing and a touch too brine-y.
Whether for a delicious supper or to sample the cocktail menu, the quality, friendly team and great atmosphere make it well worth it.
n Monteiths, 61 High Street, 0131-557 0330, www.monteithsrestaurant.co.uk