I’m a great defender of the hotel restaurant against claims of overpricing and mediocrity, not least because we have some excellent hotel restaurants in Edinburgh. From The Bonham to the Galvin Brasserie to Twenty Princes Street to Hadrian’s we are well served with hotel dining options.
However, I suppose this ingrained prejudice that people seem to have must draw its roots from somewhere and I sadly stumbled upon one of the sources on a recent evening.
The Howard Hotel on Great King Street has been a staple of stylish hotel options in Edinburgh for quite some time. Their restaurant, The Atholl, has been on my list for a while and offers solid looking options up to and including a tasting menu.
Upon arrival, the friendly receptionist showed me to the dining room. It seemed a slightly odd set-up with no-one actively overseeing the dining space. I was shown to a window table and left to peruse the menu.
The a la carte selection was focussed and to the point. I liked the sound of the jerusalem artichoke and carrot veloute, and was intrigued to find out what lemon sippets were. I followed with the fillet of beef.
The hapless waiter was soon delivering an amuse bouche. It was a single king prawn in sweet chilli sauce. I stared at it for a while wondering if this was really a serious offering or their idea of a joke. If it was the latter, I wasn’t laughing.
The starter was another abject offering. It was announced incorrectly as mushroom veloute by the waitress. It was beige in colour and flavour. The sippets were just regular croutons. It was a spiritless dish.
We then had a bit of a palaver with the main course. The first beef fillet was cooked way beyond the suggested medium so I sent it back. When it returned it was on the cooked side of medium when I’d asked for medium rare but I just went with it. I fed back my views to the waiter who was suitably apologetic and knocked 25% off the cost of the dish on the final bill.
The dish itself was completely blah. It showed very little in the way of skill in execution.
I rounded things out with poor espresso. The whole experience had been quite the shambles.
So overall, The Atholl had an absolute and total nightmare on my visit. The food was below restaurant quality throughout and the place is being run in a fashion that seems to show little regard for achieving a good standard. The price-point is completely laughable and the notion of eating a tasting menu here is beyond the scope of my excessive humour. Don’t even think about visiting this utter disaster zone of a place.
I ate: king prawn; jerusalem artichoke and carrot veloute, lemon snippets; fillet of beef
I drank: white wine, red wine, water, espresso
I wore: an old favourite tie
Total bill: £46.71
Address: 34 Great King Street, New Town, Edinburgh EH3 6QH