It feels like an age away now, but a couple of weeks ago I popped into Amarone with my pals Ann from A Quirky Lifestyle and Emma from Edinburgh Feasts to put the Edinburgh Restaurant Festival menu through its paces.
Now, full disclaimer here, as I’ve mentioned before I work for the folks who promote Edinburgh Restaurant Festival and other Edinburgh events throughout the year, but honestly I think it’s a cracking idea regardless – for a couple of weeks in October, some restaurants in Edinburgh offer set menus for an accessible price (this year it was three dinner courses for £25). Now I know it’s far too late to get on board with the 2015 offering, but fingers and toes crossed it returns next year!
Anyway – to the review…
The first thing that strikes you as you walk into Amarone is that it’s huge. Massive. It has a U-shaped space which has high echoey ceilings and gives the feel of a typical grand George Street eatery. The second thing that you will notice is that it is really quite full. I’m not sure how many tables the place has exactly, but going early on Friday evening I struggled to spot any places that were free – it was a good thing that I had booked the table in advance.
The interiors are contemporary and stylish, although the overall ambiance of the place was quite relaxed and the patrons seemed to be a good mix of people, considering the restaurant is on George Street.
My dining companions treated themselves to some cocktails, while I decided to be boring for the evening and have a nice and simple glass of red wine instead! As their drinks were delivered to our table I must admit I felt a pang of envy, both the raspberry daiquiri and passionfruit mojito looked amazing and the girls really seemed to enjoy them.
The Edinburgh Restaurant Festival consisted of three course for a set price of £25. Knowing that I was in it for the long hall, I went for a light starter in the form of a caprese salad, while my dining companions opted for the chicken liver parfait.
Given that it was really busy, I was banking on having a bit of a wait, but the service was perfectly swift and we were tucking into our first course in no time!
The best thing about going out with fellow foodies is that they are really detailed and specific when I ask what they think. Mr Bug, if you’re reading this, sometimes I need a critique that’s a bit more in-depth than just “It’s nice”! 😉
So, when it came to the chicken liver parfait Emma and Ann really enjoyed it, even if the portion was a bit on the large side. It came with an apple chutney that went well with the flavours of the dish and the bread to parfait ratio was pretty much bang-on. For a more detailed analysis, be sure to check out the review on Edinburgh Feasts!
Meanwhile, I had the caprese salad that consisted of tomato, mozzarella, basil and a pesto style dressing. I find that a caprese salad lives or dies by the mozzarella cheese and I certainly had no complaints with this one – it was deliciously smooth and creamy. There was also a mixed selection of tomatoes (including a green one!) and the basil pesto accompaniment was ideal.
We all went our separate ways for the main course, with Ann having the “Filet d’ippoglosso” – a grilled fresh fillet of halibut with a light lemon butter dressing on a bed of spinach, sautéed mixed mushrooms, pine nuts and a basil and oil potato mash. Again while Ann really enjoyed the dish, it was a bit on the large side and after the filling chicken liver starter had to leave half of it on the plate.
Emma had the pizza salami piccante, which was topped with cheese, salami and a generous helping of rocket. It looked like a right old feast where I was sitting, and Emma did enjoy it, although she did mention it was a little tough to cut the well-fired dough at the crusts.
I had the ‘pollo funghi e pancetta’ – a supreme of chicken served with a basil cream, pancetta and mushroom sauce served with sautéed potatoes. It was really nice, but the sauce was super creamy which made the whole dish a bit heavy for my taste… but it was a good generous Italian portioned dish!
For dessert, both Ann and Emma went for the same again and had the ‘Semifreddo al Chocolato’ – which was iced chocolate and praline cream. I must admit I did consider having this dessert briefly when I saw it on the menu, and I did have a bit of pudding envy when it came to the table!
It looked lovely when it arrived on the plate, but I did notice it melted quite quickly and Emma did mention she wasn’t a fan of the texture, however they both seemed to enjoy the overall taste of it.
I finished with the ‘Tortino di Formaggio’ – a creamy mascarpone honey and ginger cheesecake on a crushed gingernut biscuit base. Again, it was really delicious but a touch on the heavy side for me. The ginger was really nicely balanced though and the cheese was lovely and creamy.
On the whole, £25 for that three course meal was an absolute bargain. The portions at Amarone are very generous and the food is as good as you would expect from this Italian George Street institution with a reputation for decent food. Even though the Edinburgh Restaurant Festival is long gone, I would still heartily recommend popping in if you are in the mood for a good ol’ Italian feast!
You can find Amarone 13 St Andrew Square, EH2 2AF, right at the end of George Street – just look out for the big A in the window!