Another wind fest in Edinburgh blew me to the West Room, on Queensferry Street. There has been a pub of some sort on this location for as long as I can remember, but it’s never been a place that’s captured my attention, previously.
Upon entering, it became clear that this is a smart, airy place, neatly turned out, and making good use of what is quite a strange space; long, thin, with a little broader area at the back.
I was soon contemplating a quirky menu, served throughout the day. I guess it’s looking to place itself as a ‘gastropub’, a term that isn’t universally loved, or consistently applied. To be more accurate, it serves a range of pub grub classics but with a particular twist of the chef’s devising. So, you have fish and chips served in the paper, a posh version of mushrooms on toast served with a soft poached egg, and a fish finger sandwich served with freshly made tartare sauce. Set next to these, you have some good local sourcing, with a nice emphasis on good beef from the Buccleuch estate.I opted for…wait for it…the soup of the day, which turned out to be lentil and ham hock, to be followed by a mushroom, chick pea and barley stew.
The soup arrived in good time and I have to report that by soup’s standards it was quite a looker. It tasted very good, as well, with the ham giving it good flavour, and nice soft carrots providing a different texture. For me, it could have used a few more lentils to give it a thicker texture, but overall it was a very good soup.The stew that followed showed the same devotion to providing a range of textures, with the chick peas retaining a good bite, so that it didn’t descend in to being an entirely soft mush. The barley and mushrooms provided the softness, and things were brought together with generous shavings of parmesan. However, it lacked a really defining, punchy flavour, so won’t live long in the memory.
Overall, the West Room is smart and appealing, but I’m not convinced it’s all it could be or wants to be. Their menu doesn’t quite compel you towards the dishes it wants to serve you, so could use a little trimming to focus it better. It likes to market itself as the west end’s “hidden gem”. Certainly, if you stumble upon it on your travels, I think you’ll be impressed, but impressed enough for regular repeat visits? I’m not so sure of that, as things stand.
Blythe scores The West Room:
3.5/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for service
3.5/5 for setting
giving an overall 14/20
I ate: lentil and ham hock soup, mushroom, chick pea and barley stew
I drank: red stripe
I wore: my shirt buttoned up to the neck, without a tie (I’ve started doing that, I’m not sure why)
Total bill: c.£20