This review appears in the April 2012 edition of Bite Magazine.
In what seems like the blink of an eye, Harvey Nichols are gearing up to celebrate their first decade in Edinburgh. The Forth Floor brasserie and restaurant, with spectacular skyline views and contemporary design, have stayed atop many a ‘destination’ dining guide since 2002. The city’s restaurant scene has changed markedly, yet Executive Chef Stuart Muir remains at the helm, consistently and confidently presenting the best of Scottish and British produce.
Gourmet Mamma and I went along to see the newly refurbished restaurant, and as we were in celebratory mood, the Tasting Menu seemed only right. A six course feast, it was a showcase of the finest ingredients, oh-so elegantly presented.
Dish one was North Sea mackerel with jamón Iberico , almond cream, anchovies and preserved lemon. The dish captured those classic Spanish tapas flavours, the ultimate umami appetiser with the pan-seared plump oily mackerel, salty anchovy, and a paired Fino Sherry the perfect crisp accompaniment.
Squab pigeon breast cooked sous-vide in Shiraz (and matched with a juicy glass of the same) was the sophomore course, with beetroot and radish matching the wine’s ruby-hued colour palette. The meat was so tender its consistency near that of a pâté, its side-kicks crunchy molasses-coated hazelnuts for contrasting texture, fruity roasted pear, and an earthy flavour from puréed and baby beets.
The second fish course brought us North Atlantic halibut with pearl barley and surf clam porridge, and compressed cucumber. The fleshy white ish was perfectly seasoned, and the pearl barley provided nutty risotto-like eating. On the side, a little roulade of roasted clams and mousseline was complemented by its sweetly-flavoured pancetta blanket.
Far from collapsing into food-coma territory, we eagerly anticipated the next meaty course. Slow-cooked Ayrhire pork belly with cognac soaked prunes, black pudding and cocoa nibs. The succulent pork meat was encased in a sizeable parcel of crisp brik pastry But refinement is this menu’s guiding mantra, from the perfectly turned baby vegetables, the sprinkling of aromatic cumin and caraway seeds, and fresh bursts of micro herb flavour.
Next, dessert, or ‘Rock’ as it was billed, was lunar in its sparsity yet impressive in its technical skill. Lumps of aerated milk and dark chocolate à la posh Aero bar, tonka bean ice cream, an almost literal interpretation of sponge cake flavoured with almond and hazelnut, and spheres of an aromatic passion fruit coulis. If it had been a ‘teaser’ ahead of a belter of an unctuous pud, perhaps it would have satisfied a bit more. Slightly frustrating, however cheered up by a glass of golden Vin Santo.
The charming waiter wheeled the trolley over and cheerily furnished us with a small chunk of each of the seven offered cheeses. Soft Brie-styles led on to tangy goats’ and fierce blues. The honeycomb, crunchy music bread, home-made chutney and glass of port a fittingly luxurious end to the dining event.
At £55 (£90pp with paired wines) this the tasting menu is in the realm of ‘special occasion’ dining, so I’d urge you to hastily think up some (read: any) reason to grab a window table at the Forth Floor, sit back and let your tastebuds in for the ultimate treat.