HOME-cooked, honest, hand-cut, piping hot, proper. Some adjectives should be banned from menus.
The Bothy Restaurant and Drinkery
The Murrayfield Hotel, 18 Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh
Dinner for two, excluding drinks, £48.60
This newly refurbished restaurant, part of The Murrayfield Hotel, is a prime culprit when it comes to this kind of marketing speak.
Worst of all, it describes itself as a drinkery.
I get that it’s trying to be nice, friendly and non-offensive. After all pubs are where trouble kicks off, noses turn red, fingernails go yellow and pork scratchings get trampled into the beer-stained carpet. Only civilised things – like gentle, refined and responsible quaffing – can happen in a drinkery.
Still, gripe over, as they’ve done a decent job on this grand Victorian villa, with its view onto the craggy rear of Murrayfield Stadium. There are zinc tables that are topped with potted rosemary, upside-down trugs serve as pendant lights (after all, gardens are so nice and non-offensive) waiters don kilts and there’s only a faint whistle of drills in the background (I think they must still be working on the main hotel), which added a treble element to the Stevie Wonder track that was playing on the stereo.
As part of their push to fit into the neighbourhood, their menu features a squiggly casserole pot icon alongside dishes that are discounted for locals. So we could’ve got our cullen skink terrine (£6.25) for £1 cheaper if we’d lived nearby (we should have pretended we were pygmy hippos from nearby Edinburgh Zoo).
It was, however, worth paying full whack for, with a block of pure white, smooth and creamy, leek and haddock dotted paste and a blob of crème fraîche and parsley sauce on the side. It almost convinced me that all soups should be re-imagined as solids. It’s just a shame that the accompanying “herb bread” was so desiccated.
My goats cheese wrapped in filo (£5.75) was satisfying, mainly because of its generous dimensions.
There was a swag bag of crisp pastry, stuffed with a nanny’s worth of gently feral cheese. On the side – a sweet and cool tomato chutney.
I followed this with a washing-up tub sized and nuclear-hot portion of lamb shank shepherd’s pie (£13.95 for not-from-around-heres, £12.95 for locals), which featured loads of soft shredded meat, plus cubes of swede, carrot and turnip, all in a stocky gravy, with a thick lid of bubbly potato. Homely.
The grilled trout (£11.95) didn’t work quite as well. The fillets were well cooked, but the addition of sickly sweet roasted red peppers, along with a blanket of yellow hollandaise, obliterated the subtle flavour of the fish. This dish also came with a few wedges of boiled potato, a rather standard side salad and an absence of the toasted almonds that had been billed.
I’ve never eaten a double nougat (£4.75 for strangers, £4.25 for locals) in a restaurant before (only in a car, on a bench or at the beach). It tasted better in the latter situations and it felt rather inhumane to be chasing it around the plate with a spoon. Anyway, once captured, the vanilla ice-cream was ice-crystally crunchy, and the chocolate-covered wafer sandwiches, with their centres of marshmallowy goo, were slightly chewy and cheap tasting.
Never mind, as the syrup sponge pudding (£5.95) did justice to a classic cockle warmer, with loads of thick sugary sauce and a jug of mouth-coating custard (which tasted like Bird’s, but there’s nothing wrong with that).
At least most of the food here is properly home-cooked and honest, while everything that should be piping hot is piping hot.
I wouldn’t say The Bothy is worth moving house for, but it’s very nice all the same.
• The Murrayfield Hotel, 18 Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh; 0131-337 1844, www.themurrayfieldhotel.co.uk