Bistro Deluxe by Paul Tamburrini
Cate Devine, as is her usual way, wrote a pretty interesting piece the other day about the hotel restaurant. It had some quotes from hotel operators about milennials’ attitudes to hotel restaurants and how soon-to-launch Baba is a restaurant in a hotel not a hotel restaurant and how this concept will blow the fucking doors of the whole dining scene in the way that their cited success with the extremely mediocre Refuge by Volta at the Principal in Manchester completely hasn’t.
Anyhoo, it also had much more considered stuff directly from Cate’s pen about big-name chefs opening hotel restaurants with their name above the door, mentioning Bistro Deluxe by Paul Tamburrini as a good recent example of this. I tottered there on a sleepy Monday lunchtime.
In the Macdonald hotel that was previous home to Acanthus and before that Rocca, this is a site that has failed to capture the imagination of the Edinburgh dining public. The folks who run the hotel had previously been in touch with me about hosting a Scran Salon and had radiated all the signs of lacking the wherewithal to discern the difference twixt arse and elbow. I digress.
The new place has had a spruce up but the fabric of the dining space remains largely as I recall it. The waiters have been decked out in smart blue velvet jackets. It was good to renew acquaintances with one of these boys in blue whom I know from his love of Martinez cocktails.
At lunchtime they offer both full a la carte and a prix fixe list. I was happy to go with the latter noting the a second visit was likely required given the sheer breadth of options on offer of their full menu.
I ordered the smoked salmon parfait with cucumber gel and mousse to start then followed with the mussels in a creamy coconut and chorizo broth. They were accompanied by garlic and rosemary fries.
First came some top quality sourdough from the Freedom Bakery in Glasgow. I mowed through a good bit of the stuff with the starter then as dunking material for the mussels.
The starter was very elegant. The elements came together for balanced mouthfuls with the parfait smooth and beautifully seasoned. I was impressed.
The main course was every bit as good. The fries were outstanding, quite the best I’ve been served in a restaurant in Edinburgh and a fitting new place to take on the ‘best chip’ honours from nearby and soon to close Reekie’s.
Amusingly, my pal knew me well enough to steer me away from their coffee just for now as that’s one aspect they don’t feel is quite up to where they would like it. It was refreshing to hear such well-considered service advice. He brought delicious petit fours, too. Top chap.
So overall, it was good to see Mr Tamburrini’s bistro in such fine form from the outset. It has the best chance of success of any of the restaurants that have inhabited this space. And who knows, maybe if Baba blows the mind of milennials whose parents fucked up their hotel restaurant appreciating minds, they could be on to a runaway success. I would be very happy to see that happen.
Blythe scores Bistro Deluxe
4.5/5 for food
4/5 for presentation
4/5 for setting
4.5/5 for service
giving an overall 17/20
I ate: smoked salmon parfait with cucumber gel and foam; mussels in chorizo and coconut broth, fries
I drank: water
I wore: blue and grey
Total bill: £17.50
Address: 81 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AU