Edinburgh’s Fingal has just been crowned one of the UK’s most romantic hotels. TripAdvisor users voted Scotland’s only luxury floating hotel into the top 25 most romantic places in the country to stay. So, when I was invited along to have dinner in the beautiful Lighthouse Restaurant onboard the former Northern Lighthouse Board tender ship, there was no doubt in my mind who I should take along.
You guessed it, Scottish Field’s very own Rosie Morton. Your poor, long suffering husband I hear you cry! But anyone with children will tell you that romance can be tricky to fit around the football training run and the bath-time routine. Anyway, dining companion politics aside, it was lovely to head down to Leith after a long, hard day at the office and enjoy a quick G&T on the somewhat blustery shore ahead of hopping on board Fingal.
From the minute you walk up the gangplank you know that you’re somewhere special. The staff on Fingal offer a level of service that is rare. Helpful, friendly, knowledgeable and unobtrusive is a tricky balance, but they have truly mastered the art.
We were shown to our table in the elegant lighthouse restaurant, where the Art Deco touches hark back to the golden age of luxury ocean liners. The restaurant and bar is open to non-residents for afternoon tea, dinner and cocktails.
The menu is succinct, but boasts plenty to showcase Scotland’s larder. On the recommendation of our waiter, I start with the West Coast langoustine, mango salad, tarragon crumb and shellfish bisque (£16). This hits all the right notes for me, sweet shellfish, sharp mango, rich bisque and added texture from the crumb. I’m smiling all over my face and wishing I could eat more. After much debate, Rosie plumps for the Norfolk asparagus, hollandaise sauce, aged Comte and watercress (£16). The British asparagus season is short and not to be missed and she enjoyed the fresh and perfectly cooked spears with the richness of the sauce. Cheese always makes everything better, so the Comte was a welcome addition, but that probably goes without saying.
Rosie’s main was Goosnargh chicken with pearl cous cous, sweet potato, baby spinach and a rich Madeira sauce (£25). The chicken was melt-in the-mouth delicious, cooked sous vide and roasted. This dish made Rosie swear to buy a bottle of Madeira and experiment with it in her own kitchen. A little bon bon of chicken leg meat was a welcome surprise addition and added a punch of flavour and texture to the dish. I decided to go for the wild mushroom dumplings, purple-sprouting broccoli, foraged leeks and almond pesto (£20). The dish came beautifully presented and the dumplings were perfectly tender. The pesto was a vibrant green and tasted rich and delicious. The only complaint from me was that it somewhat overpowered the delicate flavour of the mushrooms.
Puds threw up yet more debate, but we took up our waiter on the chance to take a wee break in proceedings to sip on a glass of wine and enjoy our glorious surroundings while we debated the sweet or savoury, chocolate of cheese decision that lay ahead.
Rosie couldn’t resist the apple tart tatin, vanilla ice cream, rum-soaked golden raisins (these were the deal sealer) and butterscotch sauce (£11). This was a pud to be reckoned with and despite giving it her best shot and loving every second of it, Rosie couldn’t quite finish it off. Without a thought for myself, I stepped up to help my floundering colleague and polished off what remained, leaving the plate ship-shape and Bristol fashion. You see, I’d decided to go for the cheese (£14), and I had no regrets. My favourite was Highland Fine Cheese’s hilariously named Minger, which went down very well with the crisp sourdough crackers and spiced fruit chutney.
We were able to enjoy a quick tour of some of Fingal’s 23 cabins, the bridge and the stunning ball room before disembarking and heading home. If you’re in the market for a bit of old-fashioned luxury, then I really can’t think where better to treat yourself and your loved one (or colleague).
For more information on Fingal and to make a reservation for an overnight stay or in the restaurant, visit www.fingal.co.uk and follow on social media www.facebook.com/fingaledinburgh, https://twitter.com/fingaledinburgh and https://www.instagram.com/fingaledinburgh
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