Bless ’em, they must have known I was coming. This restaurant has been specially monogrammed with my initial – “g” – which is all over the place, including on the frosted windows and the menu.
It seems that, when it came to re-branding and refurbishing what was once the rather tired-looking Melrose Restaurant, the sooks at the four-star Roxburghe Hotel have gone and taken inspiration from the hand-towels at Chez Soutar. I’m honoured.
Other décor tweaks include woodlouse-coloured walls, oversized storm lanterns and dingly-dangly chandeliers that look a bit like pan-pipes.
It’s just a shame that the lighting is so incredibly unflattering. My dining partner (aka Gollum’s grandad under the jowl-enhancing bulbs) took a photo of me and I resembled a mummified chihuahua with tiny bum-bags under my eyes. DELETE.
Hot fashion tip: if you’re visiting this eatery, wear your best designer outfit teamed with a sack over your head.
Their menu features pimped-up and trendified bistro classics. So, a terrine of pig’s cheek comes with “home-made ketchup and green apple salad”. I’m not sure who deigned to price this dish at £7.95.
That’s a lot for a small brick of dry and grey (or is that just the lighting?) pork, wrapped up in Parma ham, with golden raisins as the cement.
The ketchup equated to a shirt-button-sized blob of what tasted like plain old tomato purée, and the salad was just a few naked leaves with matchsticks of pomme on top. Fine (for a fiver).
We felt less ripped off when it came to a starter of chicken livers (£5.95), which featured clog-shaped pieces of irony meat in a magenta coloured, rich and sticky sweet raspberry vinegar, with a scattering of puy lentils for texture.
This option was wintery, warming and would have been even better had there been any bread on the table.
Mains were better, though my lamb rump (£19.95), with a bowl of buttery new potatoes on the side, was way overdone. It was about as pink as the dress code at a Goth convention.
However, the accompaniments of pine nuts, chopped shallots, lemon juice, green beans and capers made for a zingy and zesty Mediterranean-style dish. Our other main of musky-tasting braised beef cheek (£16.95) had a pleasingly soft and dissolving texture, like a wad of wet cardboard. It came with a sweet red wine sauce, which was the colour of Tarmac, a piped-on plinth of mash, and firm hunks of carrot and celeriac. Good stuff.
“The chocolate fondant will take around 20 minutes,” said the waitress, when it came to my pudding order. That’s pretty standard.
Sometimes I feel as if I spend half my life waiting for an LRT bus, the bill, 6pm home-time, a souffle or a chocolate fondant (£5.50).
A shame, then, that this hotly anticipated dessert had a pretty solid centre when it eventually arrived. Also, its billed accompaniment of honeycomb ice-cream had been a deciding factor, but, instead, I was presented with a blob of vanilla in a wafer basket. Not. The. Same. Thing.
Our other dessert, served quirkily in a glass coffee cup, didn’t deliver on promises either.
However, if they’d described the delicious sounding “clotted cream pannacotta, mini scones, strawberry jam and Earl Grey tea jelly” (£5.95) as “pannacotta with a single rock-hard midget scone, strawberry jelly blobs and no discernible Earl Grey ingredient”, I’m pretty sure nobody would bother ordering it.
We should have gone for the prosaically titled banana split (£4.95). No Expectations = No Disappointments (unless they forget to add the ’nana).
So, yeah, I know they’ve gone to a lot of trouble at this eatery and I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but branding this place with my initial does not translate as a stamp of approval.
Dinner for two, excluding drinks,