Eleanor’s VerdictHaving not visited for a number of years, I gladly accepted Blythe’s invitation to join him at the Scotch Whisky Experience on a Wednesday evening.
We settled down starting with a beer and a glass of white wine and the Taste of Scotland menu to come. The trip of starters arrived, three smaller portions of three Scottish dishes, chicken terrine, trio of smoked salmon and pork belly. This was a good starter, the portion sizing allowing for variety and leaving room for the mains.
The mains were the real event, steak, Cullen skink and guinea fowl stuffed with black pudding. As a fan of steak, I have to say this was my favourite of the three, with the thick and creamy Cullen skink in second place. The guinea fowl was delicious but the haggis dominated over the game. Puglian red wine accompanied this trio of strong flavours and worked well with each dish, standing up on its own.
After a pause, the dessert arrived. Passion fruit panna cotta served with a passion fruit ice cream and a dram of Scotch whisky. It was a light and fruity end to the meal with the whisky adding a Scottish flavour.
The Taste of Scotland menu is a lovely way to sample more of the delicious dishes Scotland has to offer. For visitors who don’t know what they’ll enjoy and are looking to try a few things at once, this is a great place to start. After visiting the Scotch Whisky Experience, you’ll know what to get your teeth into.
The folks at CM Porter Novelli, who’d invited us to review the Gran Caffe previously, had been trying to get us to give Amber, at the Scotch Whisky Experience, a go for a wee while, but busy social calendars hadn’t allowed a trip until now.
On tonight’s agenda was the restaurant’s Taste of Scotland menu. This unfolded over three courses of trio style dishes.
The interior was a pretty smart space, in the style of a museum cafe. It didn’t entirely match the menu’s fine dining leanings, but it had a fresh, contemporary feel to it.
Throughout, the service was attentive and friendly, with a waiter or waitress always near at hand and fully clued up.
First up were a trio of starters, with a chicken liver parfait on sourdough toast, a little bundle of threeways salmon and a piece of pork belly. These were neatly presented and tasted fine.
The main courses were significantly better. The star of the show was the Orkney beef fillet, which was one of the best pieces of meat I’ve been served in the city. The fillet of cod in smoky seafood chowder was equally accomplished, and while the black pudding stuffing slightly overpowered the guinea fowl it was still very tasty.
We rounded things out with a perfectly pleasant passionfruit pannacotta, served with rhubarb and ice cream. Rhubarb aside, this seemed a little adrift from the Taste of Scotland theme and while the dram of Balblair 2003 was high quality whisky, I’m not convinced the combination showed either to best advantage. I’ve subsequently seen that particular whisky matched with salted caramel chocolate, which I imagine might offset the freshness of the whisky’s tasting notes rather better.
So overall, Amber was a friendly and welcoming place that hit some real high notes, particularly with the main course dishes. I think there are some refinements to be made to get the other elements of the menu really singing, but I was glad to have visited and will bear it in mind for future occasions when people ask for recommendations for good showcases of local Scottish produce.
Today’s questers were: Eleanor, Blythe
We ate: taste of Scotland selection
We drank: whisky, water, red wine, ale, white wine, espresso
We wore: pink, black
Total bill: food paid for by the restaurant, with thanks to CM Porter Novelli for arranging (drinks were around £25 in total)