the witchery by the castle

It does annoy me when establishments market themselves on how many and which ‘celebrities’ bestow their custom on them. I think that people forget that celebrities are people, just like the rest of us. Often they are called celebrities when they aren’t celebrated at all, but merely infamous. And just because someone may be rich or famous, does not necessarily mean they have taste. Money does not go hand in hand with a discerning palate. So, The Witchery (in Edinburgh) and I got off on the wrong foot when, before I had had the opportunity to eat anything, I was forced to digest the information that Dannii Minogue and Tilda Swinton (celebrated food lovers that they are) had once patronised the restaurant (via the information page on their menu). How very nice for you, The Witchery, however I’d quite like to have my starter please, when you’re ready.

So, yes, service was quite slow and food took a while to arrive, but I had been looking forward to the meal as had heard good things about The Witchery (from non-celebrity people). The menu was very well put together with so many dishes that I would have/ could have picked. It made deciding on just one very hard! For my starter, the dressed Isle of Mull crab was pipped to the post by the smoked fish from the Inverawe smokehouse (Loch Etive trout with Isle of Mull crab crème fraîche, eel with pickled cucumber, hot-smoked salmon with beetroot purée). I found the dish better than average, but not great: the trout was slightly bland, and in regard to the hot-smoked salmon, perhaps I am spoilt, but our local fishmonger – Phil Bowditch – hot-smokes the best salmon I have ever tasted (I am open to being challenged on this one, however, taste-tests are welcomed!).

Main course, for me, was roast loin of Cairngorm red deer with squash, walnut and blue cheese pithivier, bramble purée, bitter chocolate oil – again, a difficult choice to make as there were several other dishes I could have contentedly tucked into. The meat was very good and cooked well, and the pithivier was a glorious medley of its constituents; however I would have liked to have been able to taste more of the bitter chocolate oil than what I was able to detect.

Dessert was a well thought-out cheese board, with a particularly good Italian blue cheese, which annoyingly, try as I might, I couldn’t catch the name of.

All in all, it was a good meal with some high points and some low points, but it was nothing overly fantastic. Maybe I was expecting too much from The Witchery’s rave reviews? Or maybe, perhaps, just like its celebrity patrons, it was just little bit overrated?

The Witchery by the Castle, Edinburgh, EH1 2NF +44 (0) 131 225 5613 http://www.thewitchery.com

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