Rosie Morton and her colleague Kenny Smith don the glad-rags and head to The Balmoral Hotel for a suitably luxurious brunch…
NOTHING says celebration as beautifully as a glassful of bubbles.
Summer is here? Lockdown is over? Zoom quizzes a thing of the past? We don’t need Patsy Stone to tell us that now is a good time to set the bubbly on ice.
Combine that much-loved fizz with brunch – a crowd-pleasing meal that defies all rules and conventions – and you are onto a winner. Edinburgh’s Brasserie Prince, set within the iconic five-star Balmoral Hotel, has done just that. Launching their Champagne Brunch as part of their ‘Summer of Love’ programme, they hope to see people reconnecting over a drink and a bite to eat after being consigned to a year of house-bound durance.
Headed up by none other than gastronomic genius and Executive Chef Gary Robinson, who has over 25 years’ culinary experience and has previously held the esteemed position of Head Chef to HRH The Prince of Wales, my colleague Kenny Smith and I were truly delighted to head for the Brasserie Prince restaurant in our glad-rags to sample their quintessentially French cuisine and top artisan produce from around Scotland.
The Brasserie’s soft leather accents and wooden panels are entirely at home in this showstopping Scottish backdrop, but its apple green walls, antique-style mirrors and brass detailing could just as easily be seen in an elegant bistro off the Champs-Élysée. A reflection of the menu we were about to enjoy, the Franco-Scottish fusion hits you as soon as you walk over the threshold.
As soon as we sat down, two glasses of Piper Heidsieck Brut NV were expertly poured in front of us. (No tipping of glasses to be seen – putting my own amateur efforts to shame). Kenny ordered the Brioche French Toast, Caramelised Banana & Crème Fraîche, while I opted for the classic Steak & Eggs, the meat for which is sourced by John Gilmour Butchers just a few miles down the road in East Lothian. ‘Fries, Madame?’ Don’t mind if I do…
Now, the French student within me never gets her hopes up when ordering ‘fries’. French fries are thin, crispy, fluffy morsels of perfection, yet we Scots have a real knack for ruining them by confusing them with chips – which (Kenny agrees) are chunkier, soggier, and frankly less enjoyable! To our delight, the Brasserie Prince got this spot on and produced light, salty, crunchy fries in a silver dish that took me straight back to those stylish Parisian bistros. We could have gorged on these all the way home. My steak, which I ordered medium/rare, was cooked to perfection. Pink on the inside, packed with pepper, and basted in enough butter to see me through the week. I could not have asked for more.
Kenny’s brioche, meanwhile, was oozing with sweetness, cinnamon and bursts of chewy sultanas. The presentation was a feast for the eyes, and the caramelised banana was rich in flavour. The caramel itself was dark and sticky enough to linger beautifully on the palate, but not dark enough for it to taste bitter. A decadent treat fit for any celebration.
Granted, some of the prices mean this Champagne Brunch is likely to be reserved for a special treat. (The crushed avocado on sourdough is £12.50, and I have vowed only to order dishes I don’t have the energy to make at home, or indeed, steaks that I would almost certainly cook into incineration). But a treat it was. Besides, the £12.50 for the delectable Brioche French Toast, and the £14.00 for the Steak & Eggs – both of which required more effort than I would invest in my own at-home Saturday brunch – seems comparatively reasonable for one of Edinburgh’s most respected eateries.
The food was exceptional. Most of all, though, having the chance to dine in one of the capital’s most famous establishments and being served by the Brasserie’s incredibly attentive staff was what made the experience so memorable. Going above and beyond to reintroduce their diners to life outside the four walls of home, this was a gastronomic experience to remember. After a year-long hiatus, enjoying Scotland’s fantastic hospitality never felt so good.
Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options are on offer, including the Brioche French Toast (v), Crushed Avocado on Toasted Sourdough (vg), Greek Yoghurt with Seasonal Fruits (v, gf). Brunch cocktails are also available from £10 each, including a Classic Bloody Mary, a Scottish Bloody Mary (perfumed with smoked whisky), and a Mimosa.
Brasserie Prince Champagne Brunch is available every Saturday between 11.30am and 4.00pm.