Angels with Bagpipes takes it strange name from a beautiful wooden carving that is housed within the Thistle Chapel in St. Giles Cathedral opposite the restaurant. Artist Lex McFadyen was commissioned to create a version of the angel and it is his stunning bronze sculpture that dominates the stairwell that we passed as we were shown to our seats.
The restaurant is a blend of ancient meets modern as clean lines and sharp colour fill the 16th century Old Town building. When you are part of the Royal Mile, you are part of history, and Angels with Bagpipes is no exception. The restaurant’s courtyard is known as Roxburgh’s Court and it takes its name from a man called John Roxburgh. Happily for a restaurant business, it seems that Angels with Bagpipes is continuing a well worn tradition. Roxburgh was a professional chef who lived in the building from 1635.
Rather harder to explain are the paintings which were uncovered on the ceiling of Roxburgh’s Close during renovation work. You can see them by walking through the close and looking up to the floor of the Halo Room.
Most of the Royal Mile’s history is well documented but the symbols daubed on Roxburgh’s Close remain a mystery.
As we were eating fairly early, the Table D'Hote menu was still available to us. (This great value offering is served until 5:45pm) With a choice of four starters and mains, we both had no problem ordering something that would satisfy our growing hunger.
To start, Nicola ordered the Hot Smoked Salmon Potted with Horseradish Marscapone & Caviar. Presented in it's own little vacuum seal jar, the hot smoked salmon was flaked then seasoned, mixed with dill and some other flavours that we couldn't put our finger on ,then served with little melba toasts. The starter looked and tasted great however Nicola did feel that the accompanying horseradish Marscapone could have had more kick! In fact, had she not seen the word horseradish on the menu, she doesn't think she would have identified its flavour on the plate.
I opted for the Terrine of Chicken & Leek which was served with truffle, pickled mushroom and white beans. My starter looked like summer of plate! The contrasting colours, coupled with the balance of texture and flavour was perfect, whilst the combination of flavours on the plate had my taste buds dancing! The terrine was bursting with the flavours of roast chicken, leek and asparagus, and topped off with what I believe to have been a piece of confit chicken skin. Crispy chicken skin is delicious at the best of times, this crisp yet fatty treat was divine! (Incidentally, what's the past tense translation for a French word that is already in the past tense?)
With our starters proving a hit, we sat back in anticipation for our mains to arrive. By this point the restaurant was filling up nicely and I was even more appreciative of the fact that management managed to squeeze us in on this busy early evening.
As many of you will now know, Nicola is a fish'n'chips connoisseur. No matter where we go, if her favourite dish is on the menu, then you could bet your life savings that that is what she will order. Sure enough, the AwB Fish'n'chips with crushed peas and home made tartare sauce soon arrived at the table.
It didn't last long though as Nicola set upon the huge piece of crispy battered haddock and miniature bucket of golden chips. My resident fish'n'chips expert was hugely impressed by the flaky fish and crushed peas and after much deliberation she proclaimed that the chips were the 'best chips that she had ever eaten'! I did steal one to sample and have to agree that the chips were mighty impressive.