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The Dining Room - Tasting menu
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Scottish Malt Whisky Society
28 Queen Street Edinburgh,
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0131 220 2044
Mon: 12-2.30pm Tue-Sat: 12-2.30pm & 5-9.30pm


After a refurb last year, things have changed at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) with the new Kaleidoscope Whisky Bar on the ground floor where you can grab a wee dram or, in my case, a very good Cosmo - pink, perky and perfect. The room retains a Georgian feel with heritage colours on the walls and leather seating in the windows, but looks modern and fresh. 

The restaurant, (now The Dining Room at 28 Queen Street) has relocated to the first floor and is bright and modern. Seated in velvet chairs by the window, we eschew the à la carte, deciding on the five course tasting menu with matching wines and drams. For a Tuesday evening, it was busy and hoped that didn't reflect on the kitchen's ability to serve in a timely fashion. The thought dispelled as root crisps with a crowdie and chive dip arrived. Eaten lickety-split as I ear wigged the young lady addressing the large table next to us; SMWS don't use names but two numbers representing the distillery and cask along with a snappy description for their whiskies, giving an air of mystery.

No delay in food flow as the smoked haddock tartare with chives and a Cullen skink foam arrived. The 'As fresh as a winter waterfall' dram was leafy and herbaceous with citrus tones that worked perfectly with the fish. A cracking start and I'm nicking the idea of pink peppercorn butter that came with the bread.

The lightly pickled cauliflower added a sweet acidity to the pheasant and foie gras ballontine, cutting through the richness of the meat. The 'Warming and delightful' snifter had spent time in a Sauternes cask - very clever!

A yellow beetroot velouté with goats' cheese had hidden depths from confit lemon. The minerality of the wine from Jurançon, SW France, danced with the flavours of the soup, the citrus cutting in like an ‘excuse-me’ at a ball. Something so simple ...

The hake was greedy, with a triple partnership of Jerusalem artichoke - crisps, sautéed and foam, dotted with sweet mussels on a bed of leeks and a few crispy nuggets of spätzle, which I could have eaten more of. 'Bach in a briary bower' was the whisky partner here, accentuating the creaminess of the fish.

Venison is a regal meat. Its concubines of beetroot, purple carrots and orange were a stunning combination of flavours and colour; a glass of Minervois wrapping everything in a warm cosiness of a gentlemans’ club of tobacco, leather and smoke. 

A grapefruit pre-dessert prepared our taste buds for the finale. Chocolate is always going to win brownie points - dark, unctuous mousse, hazelnut cream and a dolloping of salted caramel ice cream just screamed, Lea! 

This was one fabulous meal. The kitchen is in the safe hands of James Freeman whose food is beautiful, diverse and true to his ingredients. The staff are knowledgeable, cheerful and professional accentuating the whole experience.

 £75 per head for the five course tasting menu including wines/whisky is an absolute bargain! And you don't have to be a member to eat or drink at 28.  (L. Harris) 


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