THE Dome - no the Christmas lights aren’t up yet - is an Edinburgh institution.
Everyone knows, come Christmas (a bit before to be honest), the former bank at the East End of George Street becomes a twinkling wonderland where visitors and locals alike queue to glimpse the magical transformation.
Similarly, The Grill Room restaurant, with its historic stained-glass windows and relaxed atmosphere, has a reputation reflected in its popularity. That Head Chef Sue runs a tight kitchen has a lot to do with that.
The bar itself gives the best views of the ever-changing hues that bring the majestic dome, from which the venue takes its name, to life.
Afternoon tea is served upstairs in the Georgian Tea Room while The Front Bar, ‘once George Street’s most elaborate storeroom’, boasts a 50 inch TV on which to watch the big sporting events of the day.
My favourite room, however, and the point of this week’s column, is the imperial Club Room, arguably The Dome’s (if not one of Edinburgh’s) best kept secrets.
Rich wood panels, gleaming mirrors and sparkling chandeliers give The Club Room the feel of a stately home library, albeit one with a well stocked bar and distinct lack of stuffiness.
Always upbeat and friendly, the staff mix cocktails to die for - Hubert’s Old Fashioned is a must try. The ambiance is perfect for whiling away an afternoon or early evening over a bottle or more of fizz - I’ve planned many a Fringe show that way.
This week, I discovered the experience has become even more enticing as Steve Hall, the Manager of The Dome, has introduced a new menu to The Club Room, a selection of small plates no less, think tapas without the Spanish influence.
Arguably the most relaxed way of dining, shared small plates offer a variety of flavours and proved ideal for my catch up with Steve and Dr Geoff Day, Director of Marketing & External Relations at Napier University, a friend of some 30 years.
Allowing Steve to order - three rounds of four plates between three proved more than ample - highlights of the dishes included: Charred Broccoli with roasted garlic, miso, crispy shallots and a Corra Linn sauce; Confit Pork Belly with braised cabbage, black pudding and creme fraiche; Brown Shrimps in mace butter on a wild duck egg with wild leaves; and Devonshire Brown Crab with kholrabi (German turnip), creme fraiche, pickled tomato, tomato fondue and tarragon oil.
The Haggis Bon Bons with pineapple chutney and the Club Fries with chippy sauce were also spot on.
The beauty of the menu is that, for those who prefer a more traditional style of dining, it also works as a two or three course meal.
Yes, there were deserts, I passed, and I love the fact that The Club Room is buying into the Social Media age too.
‘Don’t forget to Instagram your experience’ the menu encourages. When you do, use the hashtag #theclubroom and you could win a bottle of Tattinger on your next visit.
Cheers to that.