Update 11/03/2010 - I can’t fault The Rutland Hotel for their eagerness to try and resolve the issues this review highlighted. See the comments section for the reply from the Rutland Hotel, including what improvements they have made.
Many years ago I remember eating the worst burger imaginable in The Rutland Hotel’s barely functioning ‘restaurant’. Back in those days The Rutland Hotel was a downtrodden stalwart of Princes Street’s West End; a favourite of rugby fans on their way to and from Murrayfield. A multi-million pound refurbishment and a grand re-opening in mid-2008 changed all of that. The Rutland Hotel, its bar and The One Below late bar underneath are all unrecognisable when compared to their former incarnations. Thankfully the change has been overwhelmingly for the better and The Rutland Hotel in Edinburgh has become a destination worthy of the short walk from the mass of bars on George St.
January is a notoriously slow month for restaurants, with many closing their doors for a week or two. The Rutland Hotel’s response to this quiet period is their ‘Mystery Dining Offer’ promotion throughout January: pick a sealed envelope from a large bowl and have the discount taken off your food bill. Our waitress had been assured at least one 60% discount voucher was in the bowl, but we, like the majority of diners, picked the minimum 25% discount. By 9pm last Saturday the restaurant was full, so The Rutland’s strategy certainly seemed to be working.
Interior wise the restaurant has a dark and moody feel. There are two dining areas, the most opulent of which is arranged around spiralling glass baubles. Excellent views of Edinburgh Castle are on offer here, which are preferential to the views over Shandwick Place in the second, more traditionally laid out, dining area. Originally we were seated within touching distance of the glass baubles, but the supposed ma√ģtre d’ failed to notice he’d directed us to a table with barely enough room to breathe. We asked to move and subsequently found ourselves seated as far away from civilisation as possible. Especially disappointing was the sight of people arriving without a booking being directed to better tables.
For a restaurant where starters can run to ¬£10 and mains to ¬£26, it’s inappropriate to charge ¬£3.95 for bread. Though with a 30 minute wait between our quick to arrive starters and slowly prepared mains it might have been have been worth the outlay. Our Muscat and Viognier bottle of wine (Le Canon du Mar√©chal Muscat Viognier 2008, ¬£24) also took an age to arrive and should have been better chilled. Overall the service we received at the Rutland was well-meaning and friendly, it just didn’t always have the air of utmost professionalism about it.
Food wise The Rutland Hotel was about what you’d expect. The haggis fritters (¬£5.50) were attractively served and very well prepared. The home cured salmon (¬£5.95) was good, although the quantity was hardly generous. I’ve often seen the warning of potential shot in pheasant, but this is the first time it materialised - ouch! Despite this the ballotine of pheasant (¬£16.50) was worth the risk and, the mix of bread sauce and straw potatoes gave it good variety, even if it did look messy on the plate. A hearty and honestly prepared dish for a cold Edinburgh night.
The passion fruit cheesecake (¬£6) for dessert was a complete disappointment, the top of which had become stickier than a spider could ever hope its web to be. My chocolate marquise (also ¬£6) was pleasant, but hardly startling.
In all honesty I wouldn’t rush back to The Rutland Hotel for a three course dinner, but I’d be content to eat a burger or single dish in their restaurant at some point in the future. The Rutland Hotel is not beyond criticism, but it’s leagues ahead of what it used to be. If you’re looking for a pleasant evening meal, with steady food, good surroundings and an integrated restaurant, bar and late bar underneath The Rutland Hotel is a good choice.
A separate review of the Rutland’s impressive bar and The One Below to follow soon.
The Rutland Hotel and its restaurant is located at 1-3 Rutland St, Edinburgh, Scotland.
Telephone: 0131 229 3402