The Secret Garden at The Witchery
A good habit Mrs Bite and I have established over the years is to treat ourselves with a nice meal for any personal achievements. This time our celebration took place at the Witchery by the Castle. This is a unique venue carved in history with a rich baroque flavour. Its proximity to the castle and architecture both lend a regal air. A side alley off of the Royal Mile leads to the entrance of The Secret Garden behind the main dining room. Go in and a pulpit overlooks the room. Descend a stone staircase and you feel as if you are stepping into the Middle Ages with the oak-panels, opulent tapestry, and candles. Red roses against snow white linen add to the romantic vibe. Mrs Bite and I begin with dry Martinis and browse the menu. We consider the light lunch option (two courses for £27) but the a la carte dishes win our attention. Mrs Bite feels particularly attracted by the starters and she considers ordering a few. At this point we ask the staff for suggestions and they are friendly and helpful.
For mains, we both decide on Roast Mallard. Mrs Bite however, starts with Oysters from Oban which arrive in a basket with ice, lemon wedges, mignon and tabasco. She is delighted with their explosive oceanic freshness. The Mallard slices are cooked pink on vibrant steamed kale and served with bitter orange and Madeira jus. I like the contrast of colours and flavours; in fact, the orange bitterness balances the meat well. The leg rillette is very crispy and moreish. I am a little disappointed with the Madeira jus as it's just not enough to accompany the various ingredients on the plate. Dauphinoise potatoes complete the dish.
Time for dessert and we share a Paris Brest, which is my favourite food of the day. This is a French sweet made of choux pastry and praline flavoured cream. Here it is served with pistachio ice cream and warmed nougat sauce. Delicious.
Mrs Bite is pleased with our experience and wants to return. I am impressed with the staff and the decor; food was notably good but I would return for special occasions only rather than for casual dining. No matter, The Secret Garden at The Witchery is so magical everyone should visit at least once (E. Vanello). The Witchery by the Castle - Castlehill, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH1 2NF