Cripes! I ordered chicken!

The Atrium, Edinburgh

The Atrium is situated in a theatre and bar complex and it looked like the kind of place where all of Edinburgh’s super-cool people go to dine. We are super-cool, so it suited.

Once again, as I poured over the extensive wine list I was totally scandalised by the mark-ups. Sure, there was some good stuff there, but I don’t see why I should pay 4-5 times the retail price for a bottle just for the pleasure of having someone else open it for me. I’m quite good at opening bottles of wine, you know? We finally settled on a bottle of Tamar Ridge Pinot Gris, which was adequate, and a perfectly drinkable bottle of Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge Premier Cru Morgeot from Roger Belland.

Then I turned my attention to the menu. It looked good. They clearly cared about the quality of ingredients as they listed the producers who supplied them; all good local stuff. Daniel’s mother, Leena, had flown over to join us for the weekend, and the three of us all decided to try different things so we could thoroughly assess the quality of the food. We were quite surprised that even the vegetarian main course sounded slightly interesting, not that any of us were bonkers enough to order it.

After we had ordered we were left for a while sitting around like ham sandwiches at Jewish weddings, there were three large groups in and they seemed a tad rushed off their feet. When I collared a waitress and asked if we were allowed bread she looked appalled at how long we had been waiting and went to give the kitchen staff a piece of her mind. After that, the meal was well-paced with no more waiting for unnecessarily long periods.

The amuse-bouche, a little cup of cream of onion soup, was nice enough, but not the most thrilling food imaginable. We were keen to move onto the menu proper as we had ordered stuff which sounded more interesting.

Daniel started off with a ham-hock terrine with sauce Gribiche. It was bursting with piggy flavours and had a good texture. Leena’s smoked salmon with anchovy creme fraiche was even better. It can often be a slightly dull starter but this was a brilliant exception, totally delicious with a great texture. I am pleased to report that my starter eclipsed both of these. Seared Sound of Gigha scallops with Stornoway black pudding. The scallops were wonderfully well cooked, seared on the outside and meltingly raw in the middle, and black pudding is a great accompaniment to scallops. I would have preferred the black pudding to be a tiny bit less cooked, but I feel I am being picky saying this as it was a great dish.

I am still slightly shocked to report that I ordered the organic roast chicken with pommes dauphinoise as a main course. Chicken is normally the most staggeringly dull thing it is possible to order on a restaurant menu, but I thought I would give it a try. It was rather tasty, but very slightly dry. Top pommes dauphinoise, though. The dish was good enough so that it was not a mistake to order, but better chicken is cooked at home. Daniel had a fillet steak with mustard Arran potato mash, which was really rather good, although I thought it was not a patch on Hawksmoor’s best offerings. The mash was buttery and not too strongly flavoured with mustard. Lucky, lucky Leena chose what was the best prepared monkfish I have ever tried; so tender it just melted in one’s mouth. Completely brilliant.

By this point I was stuffed so skipped the desserts, but I did try Daniel and Leena’s choices. Again, Leena chose fantastically well, an apple tarte tatin with calvados ice cream. The tarte was better than even those I have had at Gordon Ramsay, totally lovely, with flavourful ice cream. Daniel’s bread and butter pudding with apricots and raisins was also a complete success. He preferred it to the tarte tatin, but I am afraid he was wrong. He says, “No I wasn’t!”

It was a great pleasure to dine on such excellent ingredients cooked with obvious skill. Well worth a visit should you be in Edinburgh. They have a bargain lunch menu should you wish to try that.

Contact details are on their website.

Tomorrow’s report from Edinburgh will be a review of lunch at Valvona and Crolla.


One Comment

  • David Strange wrote:

    I feel like a quick rant about someone we saw dining in The Atrium. On one of the large tables there was a fellow who spent most of his meal with a bluetooth headset hanging from one ear. Surely this is poor behaviour? When you go out for a nice meal with your friends you don’t do that kind of thing. No one is so important (or totally lacking in importance, if we are honest) that they need to take phone calls when having dinner. Poor behaviour. The motto of New College, where I first studied in Oxford, is ‘Manners maketh man’ and I think that is a fine and noble idea.