One of my most favourite things about Edinburgh is that while it’s a bustling cosmopolitan city, you can escape to the peace and tranquility of the country-side in next to no time. Pair the closeness of the countryside up with an evening of beautiful food, fine wine and one of the most palatial of historical surroundings in the city and you have a winning restaurant formula that you just cannot miss out if you are visiting Edinburgh!
Where am I talking about? Rhubarb at Prestonfield House and TLE went along to review it recently.
Background and Concept
Prestonfield House is a 17th century mansion on the outskirts of Edinburgh city centre, next to Arthurs Seat (10 minutes by car/taxi from the city centre). The property was once home to the Lord Provest and is now home to what has to be the city’s best and most beautiful! The castle is part of the James Thomson Collection (Witchery and Tower) and sits within 20 acres of lush manicured grounds, looking out to Arthur’s Seat.
As you drive up the entrance it’s like entering a Jane Austin novel as you see the castle in the foreground and then watch the garden peacocks saunter past you. I bet you will make oooh and ah noises and then promptly pull your mobile out for an Instagram snap! James’ vision with the property was to create an alternative to the standard luxury hotel and create something truly unique and unexpected and he successfully did just that, with history around every door and corner of the building and decoration as colourful and rich as the history if the building itself.
The property is set our over two floors and turret, the ground floor first presents four individually themed public ‘salons’ (Tapestry, Leather, Whisky and Yellow) each finished in its own style and ideal for a pre dinner drink a cocktail or afternoon tea. Interiors throughout the property are completely over the top and simply wonderful, you won’t find anything else quite like it! Gothic, meets Moulin Rouge meets Alice In Wonderland, with heavy velvets, rich fabrics, candles and curios which draw your eyes in all directions.
Beyond the public rooms, in the middle of the ground floor lies the hotel’s restaurant; Rhubarb, named because it was the first estate in Scotland to propagate rhubarb in the eighteenth century and it is still grown there today. Set across two oval-shaped dining rooms, these Gothic styled rooms are filled with historic paintings, and finished in blood-red wallpaper and heavy red curtains and furniture. As dusk turns to evening these stunning rooms become fairytale like as the grand chandeliers and candlelight fill the room with flickering light and you watch the sun setting out in the gardens.
Now I am not one for formal service and Prestonfield House whilst over the top in style has a relaxed attitude to service phew! Don’t worry about sitting in silence in the dining room, you are here to relax and enjoy the evening.
Rhubarb offers a range of menus their 3 course menu has a choice of 3 starters, 3 mains and 3 dessert for £38. If you are there for lunch they have a 2 course for £22 option as well as Sunday lunch option. Their A La Carte menu is focused around locally sourced meats, fish and game and is updated with the seasons, there are also vegetarian options.
Sourcing the best of local ingredients is one of the keys to the Presonfield’s success, Beef is from John Gilmour who dry ages the beef which is then left to age further in the restaurant’s larder. Venison is from Highland Game who source all their venison in Scotland, while wild game birds come from the Lammermiur Hills. The restaurant’s cheeses are always Scottish and pork and is from Ramsay of Carlukes.
Now Rhubarb is famous for its vast wine collection. The cellar has over 800 bins, so serious wine connoisseurs will be in their element. Navigating this vast collection has been made easier with a slimmed down wine menu of 15 curated red, white and rose and a selection of after dinner dessert wines by the glass. Staff are on hand to answer any questions.
What We Ate
We started our evening off as every good evening should with an aperitif to wet our whistle, we chose the Whisky Room to relax in and explore the menu further. This room is truly Scottish through and through. Deep leather studded sofas sit proudly next to antler styled furniture and a roaring log stove completed the coziness. We opted for a Margarita and Mojito with a small snack selection and started to look through the A La Carte Menu.
Once finished our drinks we moved through to the restaurant. We were given one of the best tables in the house next to the bay windows looking out into the garden. The restaurant was alive with the sound of chatter from other guests.
We started with the most beautiful Scottish hand caught scallops, bacon, sweet potato and a butter sauce, the Scallops melted in the mouth! We also had an incredible Lobster Bisque, dressed with peas, dots of Wasabi, and a wild flower garnish. Both incredible!
Now I am not one for sharing food 😉 but Rhubarb’s signature Chateaubriand caught my eye and I am so happy we went for it. A very generous 380g of roast Scotch beef fillet and comes with seasonal vegetables and potatoes, Madeira jus and Béarnaise sauce. It’s all served in a beautiful silver serving dish with silver cover which immediately produced vivid and wonderful memories of visiting my Gran and Grandpa for Sunday dinner. It’s simple but oh so wonderful and the little pot of polenta dumplings was a delicious addition too!
If you follow The Luxury Editor you will know by now that I have a cheese head, so desserts really have to be cheese or be followed by cheese that’s my rule! Rhubarb offer a cheese board fit for kings with 4 generous wedges of Scottish cheese served with grapes and honey. Cheeses change frequently and come from small artisan creameries around Scotland.
Bedroom Sneak Peak
Once dinner was finished I asked to have a peak upstairs at the rooms. You can’t be in such a beautiful property and not have a sneak peek at the suites upstairs and thankfully a couple were free, and I think you will agree they look incredible, I can see why it is an award-winning property.
The Finances and Details
Presonfield House and Rhubarb is a multi award-winning hotel as well as being listed as one of the world’s top 100 hotels and I can see why, it’s incredible! I came away from Rhubarb feeling on cloud nine and knowing I had experienced something really quite unique. The property is beautiful, it’s positioned in a unique setting and being so close to the city means you can easily visit for dinner in the evening.
For an extra special night of food and drink that will stay with you forever I cannot recommend Rhubarb highly enough.
Address: Prestonfield House, Priestfield Road, Edinburgh EH16 5UT