Thursday 7 November 2013


Dinner at The Magnum in Edinburgh

When you walk into The Magnum you might think it's an ordinary pub. Though the front section certainly emanates the rustic and jolly ambience of one, when you turn a corner you enter a cosy country restaurant. The area reserved for diners is quite small and dark, but curtains of twinkling fairy lights along the large windows add a charming touch and provide just enough light to be able to read the menu without taking away from the otherwise intimate atmosphere.

While the establishment's ambience may be homely rather than posh, the dinner menu is much more refined than what you'd expect. The restaurant offers guests a varied three courses to choose from, ranging from Seared Scallops with Caramelised Lyonnaise Onions, Black Pudding and Micro Herb Salad to Spiced Barbary Duck Breast with Vanilla Mash, Parsnips and Wilted Spinach.

And as we were scrutinising the menu in an attempt to make the always difficult choice between seafood, meat and vegetarian, we were given slices of lovely rustic bread, which had small pieces of olives running through them providing extra texture and flavour.

To start the evening off I opted for the Gravadlax of Salmon with Safron Crème Fraîche, Beetroot Relish and Pumpernickel Bread and my friend chose the Homemade Soup of the Day, which was French Onion Soup. The soup had a rich and inviting colour and was well seasoned, according to my friend who polished off her plate in no time at all.

Salmon is one of my favourite dishes and as anyone who's been out to dinner with me knows it's an option I always go for, either for a starter or main, when available. Because of this I've had my fair share of delicious and not quite so appetising offerings in the past and I have to say that the starter at The Magnum was one of the most exquisite yet.

I was served a very generous portion of salmon which was not only beautifully presented on the plate but also tasted wonderful together with the pumpernickel bread and the lovely touch of the beetroot relish. This particular combination I'd not had the pleasure to eat before but worked so well that I'll certainly be trying to replicate it myself in the future.

To continue with the seafood theme I chose the Grilled Filet of Coley with Orange Hollandaise, Warm Fennel and Green Bean Salad, and Sautéed Potatoes. When the dish was served I marvelled at how stunning it looked on the plate, as it popped with vivid yellow, green and red colours.

The fish was cooked to perfection and was so soft that it fell apart at the merest touch of my cutlery, which made it a joy to eat. The textures of the sautéed potatoes and the still al dente vegetables complemented the coley very well and made it an all-together scrumptious dish.

My guest ordered the Chargrilled Scottish Fillet of Beef, Baked Potato Fondue, Chantenay Carrots and Broccoli with a Cafe de Paris Butter for her main and she was very pleased with how it was cooked as well. The flavour of the meat was suitably matched with the jus and vegetables and the baked potato fondue was both warming and filling.

For dessert we both opted for the Chocolate and Peanut Butter Tart, Peanut Brittle, and Salted Caramel Ice Cream, because it's always hard to resist anything that has chocolate in it.

The salted caramel ice cream was a revelation, but unfortunately we were too full from the previous two courses to be able to finish the rest of the dessert. Furthermore, we found that the peanut butter flavour in the tart was overpowered by the richness of the chocolate, making the dish as a whole even more heavy.

When visiting make sure to ask after the specials that are not listed on the dinner menu. While upon our arrival we were told about a special starter, it wasn't until after we had already placed our order that we overheard one of the waiters talking to another table about a main not on the menu. As it was an option I'd been particularly craving at the time of visiting (wood pigeon in red wine reduction) this was slightly disappointing - even if my own main was delicious as well.

Other than that the service at the restaurant was wonderful. Our waiter was both helpful and attentive, explaining menu options we had questions about and even refilling our water without us having to ask for it. The courses were served with decent intervals, leaving just enough time for one course to settle before the next one was served, but not so much that we felt the need to look at our watches.

The food at the restaurant is both refined and inviting. The dishes served do not only taste appetising, but they look the part as well and their beautiful presentation impressed us most of all.

The Magnum, 1 Albany Street, Edinburgh EH1 3PY, Scotland.

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