Review: The Bonham, Edinburgh

HAVING SPENT MOST of the week in a London-sized hangover, I was constantly telling friends that I had grown bored of Edinburgh and sought pastures new.  Maybe I had just become used to the spoils this wonderful little city offers … I am a (self-proclaimed) capital culinary ambassador after all, and tonight would see us indulge on an appetising chateaubriand deal on offer at The Bonham, where we were yet to visit.

Seated next to the bay window toward the front of the hotel, I was initially a little sceptical about our table placement given that the back end of the dining room was buzzing, in contrast to our empty section.  However, the restaurant soon filled up with a varied clientele of young and old, livening things up a little at our end. The offer includes the beef (chateaubriand is a thick cut from the tenderloin), hand-cut chips with peppercorn sauce and a bottle of wine (there were two reds and two whites to choose from) for the sum of £49, and you can add king prawns for an extra tenner.

An amuse bouche of cured salmon with radishes and sesame dressing started the night off in a positive fashion.  This was an elegant and light introduction to chef Maciej Szymik’s cooking that really impressed.

The meaty salmon, wrapped in some sort of sushi-style seaweed gave yield to the back of my knife, and was further enhanced by mopping up the tasty creamy dressing. The crunch and pepperiness from the radish, and what I think was kohlrabi, added to the visual and textural parts of the dish, with the hot burst from the seeds making this dish explode with flavour. The only danger here was that too many seeds in one mouthful overpowered the dish – everything in moderation.

I was pipped to the scallops down in London last week; ladies first and all, but this time, I had the honour. The sweet little nuggets arrived with a luxuriously silky, although a tad under-seasoned, Jerusalem artichoke veloute and a neat quenelle of cep mushrooms that provided the dish with both texture and a pleasant umami taste (£11.50). The scallops were tender and just cooked – the way I prefer them – and harmonised with the earthiness of the soup and woody ceps. 

Sarah’s starter of roasted quail with sweetcorn puree, chorizo and wild garlic was a neat and colourful affair, priced at £8.95. The bird was juicy and delightful alongside the sweet puree and the crispy skin. The discs of chorizo brought some heat, which married well with the quail.  I like beignets of, well anything to be honest, but there’s nothing worse than an anaemic, soggy ball of pulp. However, this effort was brimming with herbs and technically sound, rounding of this plate of enjoyable goodies.

Arriving on a cast-iron tray, I wondered how we would manage this behemoth portion of beef. It came cooked to absolute perfection (we asked for medium-rare) and carved into perfect slices that simply dissolved on your tongue. The chunky chips were superb: light inside, crispy out, and not a hint of grease.  My only quibble was that they lacked a sprinkle of decent sea salt, which was a pity, especially with no option to self-season. A solid, not too peppery sauce was slick and unctuous – perfect for mopping up with the chips.  We took the option of the prawns, too, and found the plump shellfish to be deliciously sweet and tender – compliments to the chef yet again. Perhaps a bowl of water to cleanse our hands afterwards would have helped, but that was a minor detail given how excellent they were. From the wine list, we opted for the Nero d’Avola/Shiraz, which went splendidly with the beef in particular.  Full-bodied with hints of spice, it was very quaffable indeed.

I enjoyed this evening far more than I thought I would, and I must admit it helped sooth my London sores.  After all, this was far from just a decent steak ‘n’ chips, and at £30 per head for food  and wine of this quality,  I would suggest this will be tough to beat.  The dishes we sampled from the a la carte certainly suggested that visiting again wouldn’t be the worst idea we’ve ever had.


Opening times:

Lunch: Weds - Sat 12:00 - 14:30  Sun 12:30 - 15:00
Dinner:  Mon-Sat 18:30 - 21:00 Sun 18:30 - 21:00
The Bonham Hotel,
35 Drumsheugh Gardens,

Square Meal Restaurant at The Bonham Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato