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  • Macdonald Holyrood Hotel: Delicious food and perfect location

    Danielle Thompson

    REVIEW: Paul Tamburrini at Macdonald Holyrood Hotel, Edinburgh (March 2019)

    Our first impressions of this smart hotel were that it was modern and chic and the location was very central, just a ten-minute bus ride from the Grassmarkets in the heart of the oldtown and a stone's throw from the iconic Scottish Parliament building, which we had a view of from our room. It was also a two-minute walk from the tourist attraction Dynamic Earth, which takes visitors on a journey through time to witness the story of the planet and includes interactive sessions with a 'bubbling volcano, exploring a rainforest and facing dinosaurs.'

    I had never visited Edinburgh before (my companion has, many times) so we started with a trip to see the famous Edinburgh Castle and walked around the beautiful city centre before enjoying a visit to the National Museum of Scotland.

    We arrived at the hotel and checked into our room, which was tastefully decorated with tartan bedspreads and matching armchairs, before heading to dinner to review Paul Tamburrini's 're-interpreted French classics' on a six-course tasting menu.

    First off, we had a delicious crab and lemongrass veloute, which was like a light, frothy soup, with aged parmesan, which stayed deliciously crispy, on top.

    The next course was baby beetroot, presented beautifully as small rectangles on top of natural yoghurt which had been whipped into a soft mousse, topped with caramelised, fried pecans.

    My favourite course was next, Orkney sea scallops, caramelised cauliflower and curry oil, a quirky combination which added a much-needed kick to the subtle taste of the scallops, but which did not overwhelm the flavour.

    We moved onto the loin of lamb next, which was cooked perfectly, still pink, with a creamed pea salad, celeriac purée and sweet and sour carrots, which had a sherry-like taste which I thought were very creative but did not particularly suit the dish.

    Next up was apple tart tatin with a caramel sauce, which was served in a crisp pastry shell with apple sorbet, which was the perfect accompaniment to offset the sweetness of the dessert.

    Lastly we enjoyed walnut bread and a sweet quince with Tête de Moine or 'monk's head' which was a delicious light, creamy Swiss cheese, named by French occupation soldiers who compared the method of serving the cheese in ripples to shaving the top of a skull to create a monk’s tonsure.

    The very knowledgeable hostess advised us on our wine choices throughout, suggesting different choices to go with each dish and readily switching these in accordance with our personal preferences. For example, she suggested a light Pino Grigio for me to accompany the first choice but after I told her that I usually drink red, she changed her suggestion to a Pinot Noir to complement the dish, swapping to a richer, fruitier Viance Rioja to accompany the lamb and a very sweet dessert wine to accompany the cheese.

    Breakfast featured everything that guests could want, from a Full English to cereals, continental choices and fresh fruit and the staff were very attentive at all times, nothing was too much.

    I would give this hotel a solid 5/5 and will definitely be returning in the future.

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