Twenty Princes Street is always a firm favourite of the Social Bitches. The food’s fabulous, and the views of Edinburgh’s Old Town absolutely unbeatable. But now there’s even more reason to make a reservation: a brand new lunch menu, boasting three superb courses for just twenty quid. Boomshanka!
We arrive, on this sunny Saturday in July, fashionably late and predictably hungover. Despite a quiet night in – feet up, telly on – somehow we still managed to knock back three bottles of wine and a few generous pours of Pedro Ximenez. Oops.
But happily, now we’ve regained consciousness, we find ourselves being shown to the perfect table with gorgeous castle views. We’re soon joined by restaurant manager Alavaro Jimenez who we love, not only for his charm and good looks, but because he really is the perfect host.
Alvaro insists that while we’re here – perhaps to stop the trembling – we should try a few of the cocktails he’s looking to introduce. After considering this generous offer for, let’s see now … about half a second, we decide there really is no time like the present.
Moments later we’re rather tickled by a Mai Tai, thanks to a cheeky twist of chocolate bitters. One seemingly simple change that renders this traditional cocktail fabulous beyond all belief. Suddenly the potent blow it usually delivers arrives via a velvet glove.
It’s so smooth in fact, we think it could be our new favourite tipple. That is, until the next amazing cocktail arrives. Offering a summer spin on a Trinidad Sour, it combines smoked whisky, angostura bitters, lime, almond, and egg white into what can only be called a nectar of the gods. But we digress …
To Start …
Our spirits truly revived, we’re finally ready to indulge the new lunch menu. So along with a teensy bottle of cremant, it’s time for the first of three courses.
We begin with the Roasted Beetroot Salad, which is absolutely bursting with flavour. The balsamic & oregano dressing’s a delight, meanwhile the tangy blue cheese croutons are insanely good. Even Isaac, who often finds limited joy in riper cheeses, is declaring his undying love.
But our favourite starter has to be the Chicken & Whisky Parfait. Prepared in the same fashion as creme brûlée, it’s stunning. Break beneath the layer of caramelised sugar, and you discover a light, creamy, almost sweet taste of Scotland’s favourite bevy. Paired with fig loaf crisps and garden salad, it’s truly heaven-sent.
The Main Event …
With six incredibly tempting mains to choose from, we’re now stuck. So, determined to make a thorough review, we ignore Britain’s obesity crisis for just a moment, and ask to sample four of them. Yes, four. Alvaro, bless him, just smiles without a hint of judgment.
First to arrive is the Smoked Arran Cheddar & Chicken Crepes. It’s the perfect comfort food. The crepes are wonderfully light, while the cheese couldn’t be richer or creamier. Combine with a slice of the field mushroom and you have a winning combination.
The 12 Hour Slow Braised Porkmeanwhile makes for a more substantial lunch, no complaints here. The sauce levels could do with a slight increase, but the crackling, not to mention the mix of pork with red cabbage “rumblethumps” is absolutely top notch.
Then there’s the Three Cheese Mac ‘n’ Cheese, with jalopeno sour cream, nachos and garlic bread. Turning this much loved side into a main is definitely blue sky thinking. It’s also a dish with plenty of bite. The heat of the jalopenos builds but never overwhelms – making this, we humbly suggest, one of the best in the city.
But if like us, greed is your mantra, then look no further than the Twenty Burger, with homemade Scottish prime steak burger, onion marmalade, and Innis & Gunn rarebit croquette. Thick, juicy and extremely satisfying, this is definitely something you want in your mouth. Woof!
Not only does it give you an intense meat hit, it’s incredibly rich in flavour, and comes with buns that are beautifully moist. We’re also big fans of the perfectly crisp shoestring fries, and homemade ketchup. Using less sugar, more spice than a traditional sauce, it’s so, SO good.
Though by the last bite, we need to hit the pause button. Our commitment to what we’re calling “investigative food journalism” means we’re so full we can barely speak. Alvaro immediately glides in, and asks if a cocktail might help ease the pain.
Did we mention that we love him??
We also have warm feelings for Jesus, our barman, who like his famous namesake is creating miracles. On this occasion he’s adding triple sec and egg white to give the Daiquiri Hemingwaya taste of summer; then a dash of aniseed, along with the three different rums, to the Zombie.
Both cocktails are of course divine, and really help to explain why lunch is now in its FIFTH hour! Again, we say oops …
Something Sweet …
Given it’s almost dinner time, we decide to finally contemplate dessert, and perhaps a drop of dessert wine. The Castello di Tassarolo immediately catches our eye, as it promises a quintessential expression of gavi, with notes of citrus and white fruits.
Happily, it lives up to its own hype, and proves an excellent companion to the Creme Brûlée. Served warm, it’s faultlessly smooth with strong hints of vanilla, and rather glorious when combined with the butter-rich shortbread and Scottish raspberries.
But … we’re even more impressed by the Chocolate Fudge Cake. Often a choice that disappoints in many restaurants, this offering is gorgeous. Perfectly moist, with an abundance of chocolate sauce, and chocolate crumb, sheer joy ensues.
Pouring another glass of the gavi, Isaac waxes lyrical about how this incredible cake is just like grandma used to make. It’s high praise indeed, given his own grandmother never baked. It also suggests it might be time to call it a day.
Though first, we raise a glass to what has been yet another decadent and delicious meal at one of our favourite restaurants.
In a pre-theatre nutshell:
Festival Theatre 11 minute walk / Edinburgh Playhouse 10 minutes / Rose Street Theatre 13 minutes
Lunch / dinner
Lunch Special – 1 course £12 / 2 courses £16 / 3 courses £20
20 Princes Street
0131 652 7370