Hidden just off Rose Street, you’ll find Calistoga, a Californian restaurant that will take you on a journey of fine food and even better wine! The last time I went was part of a wine tasting and meal experience. It starts at just £33 a head and is an excellent way to spend an evening.
Your gastronomical journey starts with a wine tasting session, which takes place in one of the rooms upstairs. The guy in charge of stocking up the wine cabinet at Calistoga, Alastair, takes you through a selection of white and red wines, talking through the palette with such expertise and yet such clarity that even a wine novice like myself could keep up!
Depending on which session you go for, the wine tasting can take from 40 – 75 minutes. At the end, we were asked to guess which of the wines was the most expensive. My wine tasting buddies and I originally thought it was the Geyser Peak sauvignon blanc (above, far right), however in a last minute change of heart I decided to place my bets on the chardonnay (second from right). Turns out I was right! I have never won anything in my life before, so I now boast about my wine tasting accolade whenever I get the opportunity! 🙂
After the wine tasting session, we headed downstairs for our three course meal, which is included in the price. The wine tasting evening comes with a set menu, however bear in mind there is also an a-la-carte menu to enjoy as well, if the wine tasting session beforehand isn’t quite your thing.
The dining room downstairs is small and intimate, and as we went on a weeknight there were only a couple of other tables in. The service was excellent, and Gordon was always on hand to top up our glasses when they got a bit low.
I started with the soup of the day, which was red pepper, tomato and kidney bean. It was a light soup and quite sweet, served with a slice of toasted bread that had a lovely smoked flavour. I usually dip my bread in soup, but the flavours coming off the bread meant that it was enough to be enjoyed on its own, no butter or soup required.
I followed the soup with baked cod served with a garlic herb butter and vegetables. The cod was cooked to perfection, light and flaky, with the roasted veg underneath a perfect accompaniment. It was a good hearty portion, but didn’t overfill me and I still had room for pudding afterwards!
I ended the meal with a refreshing frozen yoghurt, served in a beautiful dish with raspberries and mango. The light dessert was a great end to the meal, and I finished the evening feeling well fed and satisfied.
However, special mention must be given to my dining companion who was brave enough to finish with the chocolate brownie! The lovely rich smell filled the table as soon as it was placed down and I must admit I did have a little bit of pudding envy, but I doubt I would have been able to finish the whole thing after such a filling meal!
If you want an experience to fill your evening as opposed to just a meal, then I would highly recommend the wine tasting experience at Calistoga. It is excellent value for money and both the food and drink is incredible. Be sure to book ahead and add a little Californian twist to your Edinburgh encounter!
Calistoga (website) can be found at 70/72 Rose Street North Lane, EH2 3DX. Get any city centre bus to Princes Street, walk up Frederick Street, turn left onto Rose Street and its on the first right. You’ll see it as you follow the follow the lane around the corner.