BEGINNING NEW JOBS recently has meant that Sarah and I are in close enough proximity to meet for lunch, which usually ends up being around Festival Square, at the West End of Princes Street. This has drawn my attention to One Square, which is located within the Sheraton hotel, an etsablishment of which I've heard numerous positive things.
With me always running excitedly early, we had time to enjoy a cheeky glass of prosecco in the bar beforehand, where we discussed the spacious, bright, modern interior. Having to refuse a bowl of nuts due to my allergy, our waiter informed us that he would let the kitchen know to save us the trouble.
I was ravenous so decided to finish our bubbles in the restaurant, me still very impressed with the communication and preparation of the staff in regards to my nut allergy. It might sound a simple thing, but given it’s life threatening, you would be amazed at how many restaurants are very casual about it.
The menu showcased a pleasing amount of modern Scottish seafood dishes, particularly in the mains section, with a more routine steak/beef description stating that One Square is “a proud member of the Scotch Beef Club”. This combination made the visit difficult when it came to choosing our dishes. First-world problems.
I knew Sarah would punt for the grilled Troon langoustines with lemon, garlic butter and mayonnaise (£13), while I went for the shellfish bisque with Parmesan, paprika crouton and soured cream (£9.50). Expectations were high as we discussed previously successful attempts of both.
The langoustines arrived in a quirky metal basket with branded paper, and certainly smelled delicious where I was sitting. The flesh was juicy and cooked on the money with the lemon providing seasoning. They maybe could have been a little bolder with the garlic, but otherwise a fine way to open a meal.
My bisque was a deep red shade and certainly had a robust shellfish flavour to it, as you would expect. The soured cream just halted that richness, but the whole thing needed a big whack of seasoning to elevate it. The texture of the crouton was far too soft, although it tasted fine.
On first inspection, I thought this plate looked like a small portion, but it went down perfectly. Tender, meaty scallops were masterfully handled and I liked the rather grown-up white chocolate, which had a slight aniseed twang to it, far more than I expected. Champagne can often be hit or miss in dishes, but I was very impressed with the acidity levels and the texture added from the samphire; that really worked with the scallop. My only issues were that the carrot was cold and the dish again lacked seasoning.
Sarah decided to try the stuffed loin of rabbit with Talisker puree, braised leg square, roast asparagus and charred baby carrots (£25.00), with a side of buttered Jersey Royals for an additional £3.95. Stunningly presented, this dish set the bar high. Unfortunately, while the black pudding was delicious, there was far too much of it in relation to the resultantly overpowered rabbit. The crisp beignet was thoroughly enjoyable, the standout element being the expertly cooked Jersey Royals. The Talisker puree was a little disappointing, but the accompanying jus provided a superb sauce to bind the dish. The veg elements were competently executed, but a bit more generosity wouldn’t have gone amiss.
We found the front-of-house staff very efficient and professional, offering great service to us and other diners alike all evening. I think Sarah is convinced I’m ignoring her sometimes, but I like to listen into other tables to check consistency and how issues, if they arise, are handled.
I was deeply in need of a palate-cleansing pudding to finish off but found the chocolate fondant with popcorn ice cream and vanilla sauce (£8) too much to resist. However, while cooked well enough, the fondant lacked the intense flavour of a real quality dark chocolate. All was not lost, though, as the popcorn ice cream was one the finest components of the night, with the vanilla cream providing a soothing note. Shame about that fondant though…
Priced at £7, Sarah concluded with crème caramel, toffee foam, caramel with tonka bean ice cream and toffee sponge. Another stunningly presented plate served up a sufficiently wobbly set custard and the tonka bean ice cream was truly sublime. The little toffee chards were tasty, but the sponge was a tad dry. Perhaps a more bitter crème caramel topping would have benefitted it, but it was an enjoyable eat overall.
I’m still unsure where I’m at with this one. There was a great deal to be impressed with at One Square tonight; the execution and presentation was excellent and the service was first class throughout, but I was disappointed with the seasoning in places. With pricing just shy of the Michelin joints, I think it’s just about right for what was a pretty enjoyable, if imperfect evening.
Address: 1 Festival Square,
Phone: (0131) 221 6422
Address: 1 Festival Square,
Phone: (0131) 221 6422