Hogmanay dinner at Cruz - never to be repeated!

You never expect Hogmanay evening dining to be a true reflection of a restaurant’s ability. However there is acceptably lower than expected standards and there is completely taking the mickey. Cruz took the mickey and then some with appalling service and debatably unsafe food. Luckily we were able to see enough of the funny side (the alcohol helped) to have an enjoyable evening. However we’ll never eat again at Cruz and I’m unsure if I’ll even drink there again; certainly not for a long time.

Roasted rack of lamb at Cruz, Leith, Edinburgh Grilled halibut at Cruz restaurant, Leith, Edinburgh

For those of you who don’t know, Cruz is a converted boat permanently moored on The Shore area of Leith. It’s had a good makeover with the main bar at entry level, a room which was hosting a disco on the lower level and the restaurant on the upper level. Also, you can go upstairs and have a drink on the roof of Cruz: that’s where we saw midnight arrive - you could see the tips of the fireworks from Edinburgh castle. There’s certainly nothing wrong with the venue.

Cruz’s Hogmanay menu was £40 a head, which included a glass of sparkling wine and three courses from their very appetising sounding menu. At that price it should be decent value. We’d booked in later at night (9.30) but Cruz were happy to take our booking; indeed they pointed us towards that time. So we arrived a little before 9.30 and headed to the restaurant deck, which had a few tables spare but not many. Reservations only.

One table, in the thick of the action, was set and the waitress pointed us towards this. Regrettably we spotted appealing table space by the window and asked if we could be seated there. The response was friendly - “of course just grab a drink in the bar downstairs and I’ll fetch you in a minute”.

Downstairs in the bar we were served by a barman who I presume was on training. For a bar that supposedly prides itself on cocktails and good drinks, our barman didn’t know what a Kir Royal was. I tried to explain, only for his colleague to take charge. The Creme de Cassis was poured in the bottom of a glass and a bottle of Moet left unopened beside it. A full 10 minutes later drinks were finally served, thankfully with an apology from another barman. Our original server had moved on.

Despite this delay, there was no sign of our waitress. So after 15 minutes I headed upstairs to Cruz’s restaurant. To my amazement the table we’d asked for had literally disappeared. I grabbed a waiter who blamed it on a mix-up. “No worries mistakes happen” (although I couldn’t see how this could) , “we’ll have one of the other tables” I replied. Again I went to the bar and again we waited. And waited. And waited.

If this had been any night other than Hogmanay I would have walked out. But getting food elsewhere would have been impossible, so I bit the bullet and once more walked upstairs. This time there was no apology from the staff, I think they were hoping we’d just forget about food - they obviously didn’t care in the slightest about us. Anyhow we got seated and the glass of sparkling wine got served in quick time, which is more than I can say for our starters, which arrived some 30 minutes after ordering.

The ’smoked salmon with asparagus in a tartlet’ was decent; I’d go so far as good. Cruz’s kitchen had obviously pre-prepared this and plated it up ok. However the ‘wood pigeon breast with porcini mushrooms’ was a disgrace. The pigeon breast had been incinerated beyond recognition and taste. Everything on the plate (mushrooms and pigeon breast) looked the same - like it had been cooked on some dirty hot plate. Perhaps the least visually appealing starter I have ever seen. However it was Hogmanay and it was edible (albeit barely). So I just laughed it off and said “thanks” to our waiter, when he took away our plates.

Despite plates being on our table for bread none arrived. We asked a waiter who said he’d bring some bread over, but he never did. No drinks list was forthcoming, but we eventually attracted someone’s attention to order champagne. However, it was a long, hungry and for some part thirsty 35 minutes before our mains arrived.

Plate where bread should have appeared but never did at Cruz restaurant, Edinburgh Undercooked halibut at Cruz restaurant, Leith, Edinburgh

My roasted rack of lamb, with more of those mushrooms, and a bed of mashed potato was poor. The lamb had been overcooked, some chopped tomatoes lay randomly on the plate and the bed of mashed potato was slimy. The bed of linguini the halibut was served on was also overcooked. But again, it is Hogmanay, let’s just laugh it off… Well the laughing stopped when trying to eat the second piece of halibut. I have little idea why Cruz served two pieces of halibut, everyone else in the dining room only received one. Maybe they had a piece left and dumped it on the plate, rather than the bin where it belonged. Despite one piece of halibut being cooked well the second was undercooked (just look at the photo above). It’s sometimes difficult to spot raw fish like that before it’s in your mouth as the restaurant is dimly lit. But I’m glad we did.

This really was the final straw and the point where we asked for the restaurant manager. In the interim a waiter, the one we’d asked to fetch the manager, tried to take the plate away. I prevented him doing this. When the manager turned up he made some attempt to say halibut occasionally displays this pink/red colour, which bore an uncanny resemblance to uncooked fish. I mentioned it was worth bearing in mind that one piece of the halibut we’d been served had been nice white fish and that this clearly wasn’t. It was raw in places. So, after inspecting the fish he apologised and took the plate away himself. In fairness £15 was deducted from the bill and we were given a free round of drinks.

Midnight was fast approaching. We quickly ordered chocolate fondants for dessert, but were soon told these had ran out. No bad thing considering their solid state, which I’d observed from other tables. Only “fresh fruit pavlova” remained. We really should have said no dessert and had that taken that off the bill as well. However the pavlovas arrived and they were a complete shambles. Basically it was a meringue dumped on a plate with bits of chopped fruit strewn around it. I’m not sure which description of a pavlova the chef was reading when concocting this catastophe, but it certainly wasn’t what I had in my mind! Some cream might have helped matters, but ultimately I’d have got better down the supermarket.

We quickly got the bill and paid. Given the overall level of service and quality there’s no surprise that we didn’t leave a tip. Let me re-iterate: I didn’t expect great things of Cruz’s dining on New Years Eve, but for it to have been this bad was too much to tolerate.

Also, this was the second time I’d eaten at Cruz. Previously I went for lunch, which was incredibly poor as well - I still have memories of soggy chips and a steak sandwich, which was only dry bread and poor quality steak. I’m beginning to think they have a real problem with their kitchen.

Cruz is one place The Edinburgh Blog will definitely never eat at again. Blacklisted.

And to end on a happy note: Happy New Year readers - thanks for all your support over 2007!

10 Responses to “Hogmanay dinner at Cruz - never to be repeated!”

  1. Boy that sounds like a pretty poor experience - maybe they will read your post and offer you a night out for free :-)

  2. After an experience like that, why ON EARTH did you pay? Accepting rubbish service and horrific food just because it is Hogmanay certainly doesn’t wash with me. I would write, right now, and ask for your cash to be refunded. Restaurants know why people are dining out on a night like that and should be prepared to provide good service.

  3. It baffles me after reading the above review how you can slate this restaurant after you say you went there for a lunch and had a poor experience prior to you hogmany visit, did it not sink into you small brain after the first time …….. obviously not,
    Some people are just born to complain… you get what you want at the end of the day

  4. My husband,myself & two friends were having an overnight stay in Edinburgh so looked on internet for somewhere to eat. Liked the look of Cruz so decided to book despite reading your comments.We are so glad we ignored what you had to say ‘cos we had the best meal we have had in ages. It was Saturday evening & despite the restaurant being full the staff were very friendly & efficient. Our food & the wine we ordered arrived quickly & was served by a charming young lady.
    Apparently since your comments they have changed their menu & it seems to be for the better.
    We are coming back to Edinburgh in July & intend eating at Cruz again.

  5. i reckon the above 2 posters work at the restaurant ;)

  6. Reference Matt’s comment
    Neither I nor my wife Catherine work at the restaurant !!! and it was our first time dining there but will certainly not be the last !
    As Catherine says the food was simply the best I have had in several years and the entire experience was thoroughly enjoyable—from the excellent service in the bar area to the excellent service and quality of food in the restaurant. The restaurant was fully booked and everyone was obviously enjoying their night out. Returning to the Bar area after dining , the Bar Staff actually remembered what we had ordered the first time which again was very impressive .
    I regret I don’t work at The Cruz because I would be very happy working where both the staff and customers obviously enjoy themselves!
    As my wife has already said—-the menu has completely changed since the Hognany experience and I strongly suggest you go to The Cruz to see for yourself.

  7. In reply to Matt

    My wife Catherine certainly does not work at The Cruz and our first visit to this restaurant was March 15 with 2 friends. The service in the Bar on arrival was excellent and the waitress came down from the Restaurant to take our order. We were then shown to our table where the wine was already chilled and waiting.
    The food AND the service was exemplary with our table being checked on at regular intervals to ensure our evening was going to plan.
    From the starters through to the Sweet course the sevice , presentation and the taste of the food served was quite simply the best experience I have had for some time in any restaurant.
    After our dinner we again went down to the Bar where the staff asked us if we wanted the “same again ” and proceeded to deliver the 4 drinks ordered from memory—amazing ! because the Bar area was quickly filling up with a “younger ” clientele.
    We did ask the staff about the Hogmany review and they said that everything had been changed and I sincerely hope that the original reviewer goes back to this restaurant and I am sure the opinion will be completely the reverse.
    I have no hesitation in recommending this restaurant to anyone looking for a “special ” experience in Edinburgh—you will not be disappointed.

  8. hi anybody who knows about food and service knows that the cruz is not up to it by a very long way the PR does make a good job on the web adverizing this so called restaurant and cocktail bar boat.Yes it is a boat! that’s it.Incompetent staff and obviously the owner.IT makes no difference if you change the menu you must change the staff and the owner otherwise nothing changes the best thing they can do is to let the boat sail away to the middle of the ocean and……..!

  9. Maybe should have read some comments before going but was a spur of the moment thing and din’t realise the Cruz had re-opened when had lunch there yesterday. Thought i’d pass on my experience so either things change there or try to pre-warn other visitors.

    Agree with Joe’s comments above. Service was abysmal - so much so didn’t even leave a tip - which i can’t recall if i have ever done that before. one set of condiments shared between around 20 tables. the waitress forgot to give me my change for our first round of drinks, asked the waiter for vinigar and he just dissapeared, the food was brought without the drinks which turned up after had finished, the waitress wanted us to pay for the food when she brought it - never heard of this scenario apart from in McDonalds. The Steak sandwhich had large bits of fatty meat with no relish as described. The bizare set up of no till upstairs meant she had to keep going up and down for drinks and change.
    Overall nice set up for a drink on a hot summers day but dont expect quality lunch or service - to be fair though it wasn’t particlarly expensive - they would have had a hard neck to charge it though.

  10. Second time in three weeks! Tried some different dishes - all superb and beautifully cooked and presented. Lamb (for 2) was perfect.. Liked the way they suggested we share a cheese board (first class!) and then a dessert - within the price. Well done everyone at Cruz!.

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