You’ve sugar-soaped the walls, slicked your living room in Farrow & Ball’s Pigeon, put three coats on the ceiling by balancing on high-heels, two copies of the Yellow Pages and a chair, then brushed 24ct gold leaf on to your cornice.
9-11 Hope Street,
How much? Lunch for two, excluding drinks, £44.40
What’s to eat? Can’t be bothered, let’s have a chippy. Nah, that’s too much effort, let’s go for dry toast.
I often think of this home-decorating scenario when visiting style bars and restaurants, where the quality of the food is often inversely proportionate to the glitzyness of the space.
Perhaps so much energy has been focused on the fabulously chi-chi dado rails, they’ve run out of steam when it comes to the menu.
Superficially, this new place, the sister restaurant to Edinburgh’s Le Monde, looked a bit like one of those operations.
Formerly The Hudson and, earlier still, Hope Street Post Office, it’s now a restaurant and boutique hotel with a basement speak-easy-themed bar named The Devil’s Cut.
The ground-level eatery is pretty flash, in dark grey, with cream leather banquettes, chandeliers that are as iridescent as washing-up liquid bubbles, as well as photographs of Scottish celebrities, which cover the walls (the upstairs bedrooms are also dedicated to famous Scots, but I don’t think there’s a Wee Jimmy Krankie suite).
We were seated under a strangely unflattering snap of Clare Grogan playing tennis.
Our table was also, annoyingly, near a huge flat-screen telly, which was an irresistible draw to most of the waiting staff. From our sideways vantage point, it took us a while to work out what they were staring at. Sky News I think.
The list of starters are rather unfocused. They’ve stuck some haggis on for the tourists, bruschetta (because everybody likes that, don’t they?), chicken noodle soup (everyone likes that...), and other ubiquitous bits, such as chicken liver pate.
Feeling uninspired, I went for the token vegetarian creation – Portobello mushroom (£5.50).
It was the Mull brie ingredient in this dish that had sold me. Sadly, there were only two postage stamp-sized bits of this, which, underneath some chopped parsley and breadcrumbs, were covering the mushrooms like a pair of burlesque pasties. More cheeses please.
The haggis tweeds (£5.50) would probably be itchy to wear, but could be suitable for winter shooting attire.
They tasted pleasant enough, with three peppery balls of haggis that had been rolled in a sort of pangolin-like shell of oatmeal, with a perfectly gloopily yolked poached egg on top. Pretty good, and anything that doesn’t describe itself as a haggis bonbon is fine with me.
I tried to steer my dining partner away from the Orkney macaroni cheese and salt beef pot (£9.90), as it seemed like a dull option for a restaurant review, but he couldn’t resist it.
Sadly, when it arrived, it didn’t scratch his itch. Not nearly cheesy enough, the flecks of meat were fish flake-sized, and it was floury-tasting. It came with a salad in an elegant-looking but silly bowl that tipped over when you tried to spear the leaves.
If you’re going to offer something simple, then make sure it’s perfect and, as one of the stupider judges on Britain’s Got Talent (Amanda Holden, for example) might say, put 125 per cent into it.
My main of pork belly was better (£12.50), with a fat whorl of pleasingly chewy meat, a shovel-full of leek-laden school dinner-textured mash and not quite enough gravy, which was dotted with mini cubes of Bramley apple. It wasn’t the sort of dish to set the heather alight, but it was perfectly adequate.
The cranachan cheesecake (£5.50) was more of a treat. A biscuity lower strata was topped with oat-flecked mascarpone, then a thin roof of orange jelly, with a dollop of whisky-infused whipped cream on top.
A sticky toffee pudding (£5.50) was a bit spongey-leathery in its middle, but, aside from that, passable, mainly thanks to its sugary unguents – Highland toffee sauce (which did taste like melted-down McCowan’s stuff) and Orkney vanilla ice-cream.
So the grub here certainly trumps dry toast. It is, however, rather ordinary and lacking in personality.
Still, at least the chandeliers are nice and shiny.