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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Restaurant Review - Cucina (at the G&V Royal Mile Hotel) 1 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh

I recently posted a review of an overnight stay that myself and Nicola enjoyed at G&V Royal Mile Hotel in Edinburgh. Whilst staying at the hotel, we were treated to dinner at the award-winning Cucina, a modern Italian restaurant headed up by Head Chef Matteo Camorani.
In years gone by, the hotel went under the name of Hotel Missoni and despite the fact that the Italian designer's name is no longer above the door, the hotel and restaurant still carries all the hallmarks of the iconic fashion house from prints and tapestries hanging on the walls, right down to the crockery and table wear in the restaurant.
As you would expect in a 5 star menu, the wine list is extensive with a good range of wines from both Old and New World at budgets to suit everyone. Our menu choices better suited being paired with a white wine so we opted for a chilled bottle of Fuedo Antico Pecorino, a crisp, dry wine with plenty of floral notes on the nose but a more complex taste of citrus, and dried fruits. This wine was a good all-rounder and worked well with both of our mains.
The menu changes regularly, making the best use of fresh and local produce. I stared with a vegetarian option of curried cauliflower, almonds and sultanas which was well seasoned and well presented. A hearty cauliflower 'steak' had been seasoned with a little spice before frying to a crisp finish on the outside. The accompanying curried cauliflower purée had just enough heat to make the dish interesting. The scattering of golden sultanas and toasted almonds added a nice balance of sweet and texture.
Nicola's starter of crab, onion marmalade, pea and herb sorbet was light and fresh. The portion size was very generous with a good amount of well seasoned, sweet crab meat on the plate. We weren't sure about the crabs companions on the plate but the balanced the dish well. The sorbet was packed full of flavour, like a frozen salsa verde and acted as the perfect palate cleanser after each forkful.
As soon as I spotted rabbit on the menu, my choice of main course was easy as I opted for rabbit loin, Pommes Anna & braised chicory. My top two all time meals have both been rabbit so I was looking forward to seeing how Cucina would fair. My main was good and although not in the same league as other rabbit dishes that I've had, I can't fault the cooking. The rabbit loin, wrapped in Parma ham, was cooked well with the saltiness from the ham working really well with the subtle flavours of the rabbit. I'm not usually a big fan of endive but the braising process had tamed the usually bitter taste adding a savoury balance to the dish. The star of the dish however was the perfectly cooked Pommes Anna, thinly sliced and layered potatoes which are slowly cooked in butter - a perfect accompaniment to the rabbit. The dish was dressed with a glossy rich jus that packed so much flavour without dominating the meat while a scattering of toasted hazelnuts added another layer of texture.
I've always said that Italian restaurants do 'meat and two veg' very well and Nicola's main dish of roast guinea fowl, spelt, cabbage and potatoes was testament to that. Think the perfect Sunday roast chicken then multiply by the first number you think of - it was that good.
Guinea fowl is a wonderful meat, leaner than chicken with a mild gamely flavour. As the meat is drier than chicken and has almost halt the fat, it takes a decent piece of cooking to ensure the meat isn't over cooked. In this case, the guinea fowl was cooked perfectly, and served on bed of buttery braised cabbage and the silkiest mashed potatoes. Everything was seasoned well, the whole dish was brought together with a fantastic rich spelt & mushroom gravy.
After the hearty Italian cooking, we didn't really have room for pudding but after a short break while we finished our wine, we got a second wind.
Those without a sweet tooth should look away now because my dessert of Italian meringue would have the tooth fairy flying for the hills! Full marks for presentation - my dessert looked stunning with rich vanilla ice cream, covered in silky sweet Italian meringue and a generous spattering of candied fruits and crushed pistachios which was a pretty good way to end my meal although the pudding was even a little too sweet for me.
Nicola wasn't really feeling up to a dessert but when she spotted the words 'white truffle honey', she somehow found room for the milk sorbet, honeycomb and white truffle honey dessert. This was a much simpler affair than my own pud but every bit as classy.
Homemade chunks of honeycomb and shards of meringue surrounded the luxurious milk sorbet which tasted as good as a creamy vanilla ice cream but with a lighter finish. The sorbet had been drizzled with lashings of honey that had been infused with white truffle and although you would think that the savoury flavour of truffle has no place on a dessert, in the honey, it works so well to add a grown up touch of class to the simplest of puddings.
With dinner behind us, we were both feeling a little tired so made our way to the chic G&V hotel bar, Epicurean for a cheeky wee G&T before bed.
Overall, we can have no complaints about the food or service - the portion sizes were very good and the food was tasty and well presented, the service was attentive without being too over the top. The menu is perhaps a little more expensive than what I would look to pay normally but when you consider that the restaurant is located within a classy 5 Star hotel, the prices are probably on a par with others of a similar style. That said, there is also a Seasonal Set Menu available at a reasonable £18 for two courses or £23 for three courses.
We dined as guests of Cucina but my review above is an honest account of our visit. We enjoyed our meal and would have no hesitation in recommending Cucina at G&V Royal Mile Hotel if you're looking for quality food in luxurious surroundings.
After a decent night's sleep, myself and Nicola made our way back downstairs for breakfast which is also served in Cucina.
The continental breakfast included the usual selection of meats, cheese, fruit, yogurt and pastries plus kippers and fresh salmon however we both selected one of the freshly prepared hot breakfast with Nicola starting her day with a mushroom & cheese omelette. Slightly crispy on the edges but light and fluffy on the inside, the omelette was perfectly cooked.
For my own breakfast, I opted for bacon, goats cheese and avocado on toasted ciabatta which was a great way to start the day.
The restaurant was very busy at breakfast time but the service was slick and efficient with all of the waiting staff seeming to know their role in the restaurant, helping make sure that diners were seated and served with little fuss.
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