I wanted to love this. I did.
But I did not.
I could not. I would not. Sam I am.
I wanted a special treat for myself after ten days in Edinburgh. And this was after several amazing food experiences that had come recommended to me via Instagram, Trip Advisor and a terribly helpful woman who traveled with me from Amsterdam to Scotland.
This restaurant came highly recommended from pretty much every corner of the internet, so I booked an early table and dressed up for the experience.
It was…less than I expected.
I’m always willing to give the benefit of the doubt, especially since I worked in the restaurant and bar trade for about five years of my life, but on this particular instance, I have to say, it all fell short.
For starters, it’s a markedly small space, which it’s known for, and which they manage ably, but it’s very jarring to be asked for your coat immediately while you’re still in the vestibule, which is about the size of a thumbdrive. I was taken to my table (I had to book a very early table due to them stating I would have to let the table go IMMEDIATELY at 8:30 — something that rang weird when 8 rolled around and the place was empty and the staff was like, “Yeah, it’s fine, you want dessert?”) and the table itself was pulled out for me by my host.
Within seconds, I had like three different people attending to me, which was awesome and weird at the same time. It felt, oddly, as if they were overcompensating for the space or something.
It is plush, to be sure, and in this sort of delicious little enclave off the main drag, just down from Edinburgh Castle. But it is also not as luxe as it wants to be.
The food was…moderate.
I was prepared to pay considerable amounts of money for a really nice dinner. What I got was about on par with a high-end hotel or mid-level tourist restaurant.
I started with a glass of champagne, which was lovely, and an amuse bouche of a crust with some winter veg atop, also lovely. Then I ordered the veloute soup, which came with bread service, and ordered a nice red with my Scottish steak.
The problem came with the steak.
I’d asked for medium-rare, and that is what was provided, but it was oddly cooked, or a bad cut, because it was so gristly and fatty as to be almost inedible. I tried. I tried so hard. But it was almost completely inedible. And the oyster mushrooms were chewy and plasticy. I’d ordered a side of veg and it was crisp and lovely. But I barely ate anything else.
It was so bad that (and I never ever do something like this) I actually complained and told my poor waiter that it was just awful.
I ordered dessert and coffee, and a glass of port, because this was special, but I was actually looking forward to leaving and eating snacks in the hotel bar.
When I asked for the bill, my server made sure to tell me they’d removed the steak from my charges. This was a VERY nice and welcome gesture on their part and a considerable cost. So it’s the one and only reason why the Witchery gets Eight Hussies rather than Five or even Four.
I will go back, maybe for lunch, and maybe in the garden — or even get one of the rooms, which look amazing and hilarious at the same time — but dinner is probably off the table unless I’m with a group.
1 = Fuck That
10 = Fuck Yeah
Here’s the thing — the food wasn’t hideous. The staff was lovely. The space is super interesting. And I am an anomaly. I’m a single woman in a romantic historic spot. Sometimes I think it’s easier to eat/drink in a hotel where everyone just assumes you’re on business. Regardless, the service is everything at this restaurant and it delivers in spades. I think the food could be better. Certainly when you’re paying upwards of 39 Euros for a steak, you should expect it to be edible. At least.