In a nutshell
One of the kingpins of the Edinburgh fine-dining scene over the last few years, Castle Terrace continues to deliver exquisite dishes in its newly refurbed contemporary dining room at the foot of Edinburgh castle. Part of the renowned Kitchin group, it stands alone thanks to the innovative food that chef Dominic Jack brings to the table.
Chef patron Dominic Jack is at the helm – he’s been cooking at Castle Terrace since it opened its doors in 2010. Prior to that he was working alongside his friend and Michelin-starred chef Tom Kitchin, who he’s known since the age of 17.
Dominic’s career started at Gleneagles Hotel and he honed his skills at the Michelin-starred Fleur de Sel in Haslemere, followed by a period in Paris at the three-star L’Arpège; restaurant Les Elysees; and three-star Taillevent under the guidance of Alain Soliveres. He returned to Edinburgh in 2008 to work at The Kitchin with Tom, while searching for the premises of what is now Castle Terrace.
What are they cooking
Castle Terrace uses only the finest produce and seasonal Scottish ingredients are key to everything that they do. The tasting menu gives the perfect chance to experience what the restaurant has to offer and so we duly obliged. The Chef’s Land and Sea Surprise lived up to its name! Including canapés and a cheese course, we sampled 10 courses of perfectly presented, clever dishes with exacting flavours.
A cylindrical, liquid-centered ‘Caesar salad’ (to be eaten in one mouthful) as one of the canapés set the tone. What followed could not have been better choreographed, both on the plate by the chefs and waiting staff. The sommelier matched our courses with some fantastic wines and took great delight in explaining why he had chosen each one.
A starter of panna cotta with Arbroath smokie, at first glance, looked like a small boiled egg. However, one bite in and a sweet mango purée hits your taste buds as the yolk soon reeducated us. Appearance isn’t always as it seems. This really set the tone and standard for the rest of the meal. Each dish was a work of art, each mouthful flawless.
Highlights included tartare of wild salmon from Alloa served sushi style; seared hand-dived Orkney scallop served with a rich and foamy curry sauce; a selection of flavoursome heirloom tomatoes with basil and black olive grissini; medium-rare seared hampe (better known as skirt steak) of Scottish beef with tender stem broccoli, chilli and garlic; and Blacketyside Farm raspberry mille-feuille with an earl grey custard.
A seat at the chef’s table in the kitchen for courses four and five made us really appreciate just how good the team at Castle Terrace is. Dominic is awe-inspiring, and you can hear a pin drop in his kitchen – with the exception of oui chef at the acceptance of each mannered command.
The tasting plates may have been small (thank goodness when there are 10 to get through) but the overall experience was huge. We can’t remember when we were last treated to such fine food and such a cacophony of flavours.
What’s the room like/atmosphere
The refurb has created a very stylish modern dining room, which can now accommodate more diners and has the added bonus of a 16-cover private dining room. The addition of a unique hand-drawn mural of Edinburgh castle (by famed Scottish artist Nichol Wheatley) gives the space a much more contemporary feel.
Scottish fabrics, Scandinavian wallpapers, and a colour palette reflecting the Georgian heritage of the building all add up to a much more modern vibe, reflecting the team that are behind Castle Terrace.
Menu must-orders and misfires
If you have the option of trying out the tasting menu (£75) then it’s a no brainer, particularly if you’re willing to try anything. If budget won’t stretch that far, the set lunch menu offers a great experience at £29.50 for three courses.
The Castle Terrace wine list is 29 pages long, so if you’re an indecisive sort let head sommelier Joel guide you. The list covers all budgets whether you’ve got £520 to spend on the finest champagne (Philipponnat ‘Clos des Goisses’ 1992), £46 to spend on a New Zealand pinot noir or you’d rather drink wine by the glass (plenty of choice as you’d expect) then you’ll be fine.
There are also some lovely fortified wines, sherries and dessert wines to go with the cheese and sweeter dishes.
What else did you like/dislike?
Castle Terrace has exceptional service, and what we particularly liked was the fact that staff were happy to engage in conversation when we wanted them to. We had several great conversations with the maître d during the course of our visit (not just about food!) and it really made us feel like we’d had the best experience that Castle Terrace has to offer.
So impressive. From our arrival to our departure, four hours later, it was faultless. Guests are treated like royalty from start to finish and the Castle Terrace team have the utmost respect for them. Edinburgh is so lucky to have such an exceptional restaurant, chef, and team in its grasps! An absolute delight, and then some.
Written by Hilary Sturzaker (mymonkfish.com), July 2016
Images courtesy of Olivia Halvorsen
33/35 Castle Terrace
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