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Twenty Princes Street - TWENTY TWENTY VISION
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Twenty Princes Street
20 Princes Streeet,
0131 652 7370

Short-sighted Simon Walton had his eyes opened wide at a dining destination in the heart of modern day Edinburgh, leaving the bustle behind in favour of something much more refined.

Why do we lunch out? Not such silly question. We go for the occasion, the service, the ambience and the venue. Oh, and the food as well. So, why would you go to Twenty Princes Street, the finer diner within Hotel Indigo, where classically attired staff escort you to your table, amid art works a plenty and bottle banked shelves all tasteful lit in subdued tones, to a table overlooking the throng of the New Town and the spine of the Old Town leading up to Edinburgh Castle. Oh, and the food’s pretty good as well.

Lunch at Twenty is something for which to prepare. Make time. This is nowhere to treat like a fast food gulp and go. There are experiences aplenty that are apparent, and experiences that only become so as you blend into the surroundings and really develop a feel for the sense of place. The occasion, if you will. While enjoying an aperitif, consider a starter that may perhaps be the homemade soup - though I struggle to homemake to such a practiced and delicate degree - or a sharp chicken and whisky brûlée, the choice of my civil servant dining partner; or the even sharper fusion of Haggis French Toast - the latter the most tempting to my palate.

Princes Street was never built as the main thoroughfare of Edinburgh. That distinction belongs to George Street. Given the original outlook - on to the open cess that was the Nor Loch - it’s hardly surprising that this was the least popular of the three parallel boulevards that are the  backbone of the New Town. However, it’s fair to say that the years have been kind to the southside of James Craig’s grid. The view, if not serene, is certainly more pleasantly fragrant than in his day. The only aroma now emanates from where it should. Which begs the question, how does this swan-like sense of occasion go with the frenetic effort below the waterline of the kitchen. Remarkably well, since I saw no evidence of splashing upon the plates of fellow diners, whose variety of dishes - from classic all-prime Scottish steak burgers to tomato tagliatelle - had a neoclassical presentation standard that would satisfy the architectural eye Robert Adam himself.

While happily catering for those in a more publicly enthusiastic mood - and what’s wrong with being happily enthusiastic - our informal formality remained undisturbed. Subtle, not subdued, are the surroundings. So, while considering the vegan burger, Bite went for the opposite end of the spectrum, and settled in for the pork belly. 12-hour braised, and an equal elapsed time until the necessity for another meal is on the agenda.

Patriotic public service persuaded our companion to order the broadly Scottish Smoked Arran Cheddar & Chicken Crepes. A new alliance with a nod to the old, perhaps. Fortunately, we were not on the clock. It would have been rude to hurry. 

So we didn’t, and stayed for an indulgent third course. It’s hard to get past a gluten-free chocolate fudge cake. There’s three of my favourite things in one, right there, but a fresh crème brûlée or a temptingly temperature controlled sorbet selection awaits the less impulsive. 

Retiring to the relaxed bar area, sipping a final coffee, perched just above the open-topped roofline of the sightseeing tours, it’s hard to imagine what all the fuss is about. So close to the action, so far from the madding crowd. Now, that is a sense of occasion.

A la carte, and also set lunches £12-20, available Monday to Saturday, 12 Noon – 6pm. twentyprincesstreet.co.uk 0131 652 7370.



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