28 February 2016

Review: The Magnum, Edinburgh

THE STREETS ALWAYS seem quiet when you saunter from Queen Street down towards Albany Street; quiet but with a degree of intrigue. After a minor refurb, The Magnum launched a new menu this week and after two excellent visits prior to this one, that intrigue was now completely focused on the food.

My opening act was a rather enticing carpaccio of spiced duck with pickled fennel, cauliflower cous cous and crispy duck skin (£6.95). The sweetness of the lightly smoked meat was offset by the delicate acidity from the fennel with the presence of the cauliflower contributing an earthy note.  The shards of crispy skin were inspired and added a degree of seasoning, while the dots of balsamic reduction contributed another well-tuned layer of flavour.  Overall, only a touch of good sea salt was needed to turn this dish into a real stunner.

Sarah opted for crispy squid rings, spinach, red onion and lemon salad with garlic aioli from the set menu.  Squid rings can only go one of two ways: utterly brilliant or complete car crash.  The latter reminds me of a cultureless marina area in Greece or Cyprus (name your generic British package holiday location) swarming with British tourists and terrible restaurants that serve up pizzas, all day breakfasts with chips, and every other dish you would associate with a stereotypical British diet. 
However, this was flawlessly executed to show what a delight it can be. The batter  that housed the melt-in-the-mouth squid was light as air, a tasty dressed salad of leaves was worth mentioning, but the star was a fantastic garlic mayo that I just wanted to steal for my own pleasure.

I’ve undertaken a strict(ish) fitness regime this past couple of months, meaning the temptation of spiced bass fillet with courgette and cherry tomato ragu was difficult to resist, but when there’s pork belly on the menu, it’s getting ordered.  This version came with puy lentils, buttifara fresca sausage, a crispy duck egg and apple ketchup that will set you back £18.25. For me, there is no point serving pork belly if you aren’t going to nail the crackling.  Flabby crackling is sacrilegious in my book.  First impressions were promising and when our excellent server declared “that crackling looks amazing”, I knew there would be no issues here.  I don’t heap praise easily, but this was a terrific plate of food: crunchy crackling with tender meat underneath, lentils cooked to perfection, a well-executed crispy duck egg complete with oozy centre, and a zingy apple sauce to boot.  The only thing I would say is that maybe some sort of gravy would have just tipped this dish from a nine out of 10 to a 10.

The aromas from Sarah’s chicken supreme with podded peas, smoked bacon, wild mushrooms, spinach with garlic crème and parsnip dauphinoise (£16.95) certainly warmed up the appetite.  The chicken was soft and moist with the sweet peas contributing both freshness and texture to the earthiness of the mushrooms, and the creamy dauphinoise.  The garlic crème rounded all the flavours together in a notably light dish that was thoroughly enjoyed.

The restaurant area suddenly looked very full and proceedings were in full swing by the time our puddings came around.  As the atmosphere warmed up, I ordered one of my all-time favourite desserts in the form of lemon tart with chantilly cream and honeycomb dust (£6.50).  Some people may find this a little too sharp, but that’s how I like it.  The pastry was thin and competently made with the crème chantilly all the better for not being overly sweet.  The honeycomb dust didn’t really offer much other than enhancing the presentation.

For her third and final course, Sarah went for The Magnum’s take on the famous Scottish dessert, cranachan.  This one in cheesecake form accompanied by a raspberry compote and coulis (£6.50). The creamy filling was smooth with added oats bringing a toasty taste and texture, although the expected honey flavour was hard to detect.  The base was nutty and delicious, but the star was the raspberry compote, as it cut through the cream and was packed full of fruity flavour.

I am confident this new menu will go down well with the punters. I think Sarah and I would agree that the professionalism of the service on top of the cracking food made this one our most enjoyable visit yet.  If you’re around the Princes Street area, this little gem is well worth the wander. Hat-trick completed.

Web: http://www.themagnumrestaurant.co.uk/
Phone: (0131)  557 4366
Address: 1 Albany Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3PY

Opening hours: Mon-Thurs 12:30-14:00, 17:30-22:00
                          Fri-Sat 12:00-22:00
                          Sun 12:00-15:00, 18:00- 21:00


Square MealThe Magnum Bar & Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

4 comments:

  1. I always love your descriptions of places, feelings and food in a space - your review has made me click through to see the menu more, and the veggie options sound intriguing... I'll be adding the Magnum to my list... Thanks!

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  2. Thanks for the kind comments! Makes the work all the more worthwhile. If only somebody paid me to write about food!

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  4. Thank you for your great post. Your post is really valuable and help me a lot. Waiting for your next similar post.
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