With summer in full swing, Stephanie Abbot reviews The Forth Floor restaurant at Harvey Nichols department store in Edinburgh.
SEEING more and more restaurants, pubs and cafes opening their doors once again is a welcome and joyful sight. Like many, I had grown tired of the “what can I make with what’s left in the fridge”-game and was desperate to sit down to a meal made by someone else’s fair hands, in a lovely setting.
It’s why my colleague Rosie and I jumped at the chance to visit The Forth Floor restaurant at Harvey Nichols in Edinburgh when it announced its reopening. Having joined the “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme – which runs on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays during August – you can get more bang for your buck.
Seated by the window, we took a moment to enjoy the view across St Andrew Square with Edinburgh Castle peeking through, before exploring the menu. All the staff were friendly and took the time to explain changes like the one-way system and carefully adhered to the social distancing guidelines.
To begin, I opted for the burrata with pea and avocado guacamole on toasted sourdough bread with chilli flakes, while Rosie chose the hummus with zhug, dukkah, spinach falafel and pitta bread. We both thoroughly enjoyed our starters, each tasting beautifully fresh and the flavour of the pea bringing a lovely new element and a combination I’d never thought to try before.
The hummus was a big hit, and both of us enjoyed the punchy garlic rush that was followed by a hint of lemon. The dukkah added a nice nutty flavour to the dish and added a welcome bit of crunch to contrast with the silky smooth chickpeas.
To go with our meal, we chose one of Harvey Nichols’ own sauvignon blancs, this particular one from Marlborough in New Zealand. Full of crisp citrus notes, it was a perfect pairing.
For mains, I tucked in to the pan-fried cod with gnocchi, wild mushroom, peas, broad beans, samphire and smoked mussel velouté, while Rosie chose the five-spice crusted duck breast with an orange, rocket and cranberry salad, toasted pine nuts with a brown butter and sherry vinegar dressing. The cod was cooked well and the rich creamy velouté made for very happy taste buds; unfortunately the gnocchi was a tad rubbery, which let the dish down a little.
As far as duck salads go, this was a lovely fresh main and the flavours did make a notoriously-heavy meat feel lighter – ideal as we head into the peak of summer. We struggled to detect the five-spice, and it definitely needed that seasoning to help the duck sing. The meat was a little tougher than Rosie had hoped as well. That said, the crunchy pine nuts are always a favourite in a salad, and the chewy smatterings of cranberry throughout were delicious.
There’s a good selection of sides to enjoy with your main so we opted for the chunky chips with truffle oil, parmesan and avocado mayonnaise. Having spotted the wild mushroom croquettes with aioli in the snack section of the menu, we requested to have these as a side with our main, which was happily accommodated.
The chips had all of the makings of the perfect comforting side and while the flavours were delectable, the chips themselves were slightly under-cooked. The mushroom croquettes had a somewhat slimy texture inside which was disappointing but the accompanying aioli was deliciously garlicky and creamy.
Ambitious though it was, we found room on the pudding shelf and selected the peanut butter cup pie with chocolate sauce and coconut cream – all vegan – along with the apple and raspberry crumble and vanilla ice cream. Rich, creamy and indulgent; you’d be forgiven for thinking the (ve) on the menu beside the peanut butter cup pie was a typo. The chocolate cream was served separately and I took great delight in slowly pouring it over my slice of pie.
The humble crumble is such a simple classic; it’s one that sparks happy childhood memories of evenings around the family dinner table. The contrast between sour apple and raspberry and sweet vanilla ice cream was balanced perfectly. As advocates of a crumble with a bit of texture though, both of us wished it had been baked for a little longer, but it was nevertheless a delicious end to a very filling meal.
Overall, the presentation of each dish was impressive, with obvious care being taken and a definite artistic flair.
This year also sees the return of the summer dining menu. For only £25, diners can enjoy a refreshing cocktail and three courses. Having tried last year’s menu and thoroughly enjoying it, I can only assume good things about 2020’s offering. Particularly when I clocked the truffle macaroni with three cheese sauce.
Find out more at www.harveynichols.com/restaurant/edinburgh-dining/