Friday, 6 April 2012

Castle Terrace

What an uncanny knack I’ve got on bad timing for reviews.  Boring old stupid work gets in the way of writing up blogs, and I’ve once again missed the boat on a timely review of a fabulous meal, ingested mere days before Castle Terrace swiped Restaurant of the Year and Most innovative Restaurant at the Scottish Restaurant Awards.

Though to be fair, with credentials like being backed by Tom Kitchin and with Dominic Jack as Head Chef, didn’t we all know that it would be getting laudits before long?  So, it was definitely high time we got ourselves along there.

The décor in Castle Terrace is very similar to The Kitchin, but the space and layout overall feels slightly awkward.  The same style of slick service applies.

Appetisers of crispy squid ink ravioli and mini margherita pizza were nothing special, but then, a liquid filled green jelly blob on a crouton exploded in to a ‘Caesar salad’ when popped in to our mouths.  Mind boggling.

This was followed by another intense taste sensation in the form of a carrot and coriander amuse bouche which was topped with what only can be described as cumin ‘ash’.


Starters of squid and crab were both delicate and interesting, as well as being beautifully prepared and presented.  The squid infact turned out to be the absolute stand out dish of the entire meal.

Freshly picked brown crab from Newhaven, served with mango, avocado and black olive.
Sauteed North Sea squid, with potato gnocchi, parsley and garlic

Mains of plaice and lamb were both delicious, but each had an element that we just didn’t think quite worked.  Plaice was absolutely perfectly cooked, but the onion puree was quite overwhelming, frankly not that nice either in taste or to look at, and was on the plate in excess quantity.  Lamb was deeply flavourful and succulently pink, but I wasn’t taken with the homely chickpea concoction.  However I’d happily gorge myself on a plateful of those braised shoulder crispy balls.

Poached fillet of North Sea plaice, with a Barwheys cheese crust, crushed 'pink fir apple' potatoes and onion puree

Roast rump and braised crispy shoulder of Inverurie lamb, served with chickpea, cumin and coriander
I wasn't sure what to expect from my pear and yoghurt cake dessert and so awaited it with slight trepidation.   But it was like the best kind of light and refreshing cheesecake ever, and was perfectly complemented by the zingy lemon ice-cream.

Pear and youghurt cake served with lemon ice cream
As soon as we saw they adopted the same trolley approach to cheese as the Kitchin, it just had to be done (although it’s still done best at one of our favourite restaurants, No.1).  While the all blue cheese choice prompted a slight raised eyebrow from our waitress, it did mean we were introduced for the first time to the fabulous Biggar Blue.  Homemade oatcakes and walnut bread were good, but we thought the offering of one tiny square of quince, one stick of celery and two grapes was rather mean.


Drinks-wise we started off with a glass of lip-smacking Bille Brut and then matched our lunch with the wine package, which turned out to be an excellent decision.  Not only was it great value but also a fantastic way to try some different wines.  In particular the ‘Antic’ Rivesaltes Ambre fortified wine served with the cheese was a revelation.  

Comparisons with The Kitchin are just unavoidable from the moment you walk in the door, but we just can’t rate it quite as highly due to some main course niggles.  Overall however a hugely enjoyable meal. 

p.s. Co-incidentally we visited Restaurant Mark Greenaway the very next day - review to come - and let’s just say we were surprised that Castle Terrace pipped him to the post in Most Innovative Restaurant of the Year category.

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