STEPPING into Café Royal feels like coming out the other side of a time warp. With elaborate woodwork, stained glass windows and mirrors, the impeccable interior has not been changed since 1970 – the same cannot be said for the clientele.
As recounted by my companion, it was largely workers who crowded into the circular bar area in the early 70s, and Prosecco and more than one colour of wine were unthinkable. The atmosphere now is fresh and light with a hint of decadence and a pleasing patchwork of tourists and locals.
Starting off with a drink in the bar area, we had a short wait to go through to the dining room thanks to a variety of technical issues. The dining room, with only a handful of tables, has some of the most stunning stained glass windows.
From a select Scottish produce-based starter list, being the Café’s speciality, we chose a dozen natural oysters (£18.45). They were some of the freshest and most tender oysters we can remember tasting.
Continuing the theme, I followed with half a dozen mussels in a classic marinière sauce. Neither too creamy nor too heavily wine-based, the mussels came beautifully presented and tasted fresh and tender. Opposite me, the monkfish wrapped in bacon in a creamy Béarnaise sauce with fondant potatoes (£17.95) was beautifully executed. With the food, we chose a Chablis (£21.95) from a concise menu. Although not particularly cold when it arrived, our waitress was happy to help. The service, a touch slow at times, was generally excellent. The seasonal menu changes regularly with a few regulars. An excellent place for a treat, or a top quality pub lunch.
Café Royal, 19 West Register Street, 0131 556 1884