It was too bright a day to waste languishing around the house, so with my mother, Anne, in tow, I decided to venture out into the keenly crisp November sunshine.
My injured ankle has put a slight crimp in my Edinburgh wanderings, over the past few weeks, but it’s slowly returning to full fitness. Today’s sights were set on a quick dash down towards the Botanic Gardens, then onwards to the Stockbridge Market.
The chill in the air meant that upon arrival at the Botanics, some warming up was required, so we popped upstairs in the John Hope Gateway to the Gateway Restaurant, with bowls of warming soup uppermost in our minds.
The place is heavy on natural wood and green details, as you would expect of a botanical restaurant. It’s in the canteen style, yet serves a somewhat sophisticated restaurant menu, at not inconsiderable prices, so it’s something of a curious, but welcome, fit for a dining place within a local attraction, popular with Sunday strollers and tourists, alike.
It does roaring business on Sundays, with prominent notices advising you to book for their Sunday roast deal, which features a bowl of soup, self-service carvery selection, and glass of wine for £17.50.
Upon arrival, we were shown to a table towards the far end of the main dining area by an exceptionally speedy receptionist. A waiter soon came over to take our order. Once we’d established that the soup of the day was broccoli and mushroom, our transaction was completed without fuss.
When the soup arrived, it looked a trifle disappointing. I get that my visit to Little Vietnam, with its vat-like soup bowls, had perhaps skewed my portion-size perspective, but it did look a small portion, and the accompanying bread was a little sad and anaemic looking.
However, the soup proved to be a real winner, proving that appearances can be deceiving. It had a lovely blend of savoury flavours, and a smooth consistency. It both completed its functional task of warming us up, but put smiles on our faces, too.
Getting and paying the bill wasn’t the easiest transaction in the world. The dining area is rather long and narrow, so quite difficult to manage. There was also some vague talk of either being able to pay at the front desk, or another point near our table. Like I tend to do, most of the time, I just left the appropriate money on the table, with the bill, got up and left. Their approach was a confused mix of over-engineered and half-hearted.
But that service glitch aside, I did enjoy our little visit to the Gateway. The Sunday roast looked pretty decent, from what I saw, and although I do think the place is a little overpriced, I can see this being a spot I’d visit again. Certainly, their soup was very good, so we left happy and restored people, and headed onwards to Stockbridge.
Blythe scores The Gateway Restaurant
4/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
2.5/5 for service
3.5/5 for setting
giving an overall 13/20
Today’s questers were: Anne, Blythe
We ate: broccoli and mushroom soup
We drank: nowt
We wore: purple scarf, stripey hat
Total bill: £9.50
Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh