Castlehill, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH1 2NFThe Witchery has held legendary status in Edinburgh for what seems like forever. But in fact it was only in 1979 that James Thomson, the man who has given Scotland's capital city a major lead in establishing itself as the culinary hot spot in a country where good value in such matters had become unfashionable, set up the now internationally celebrated Witchery. The effect has been electric, and even though new restaurants come and go in Edinburgh as they do everywhere, the staying factor somehow seems to be longer in Auld Reekie. Many would agree this is in no small part due to the standards of excellence set by the leaders. Perhaps this is the way it was following the establishment of the Edinburgh Café Royal in 1817 Witchery started with a staff of just three.
The Witchery has held legendary status in Edinburgh for what seems like forever. But in fact it was only in 1979 that James Thomson, the man who has given Scotland's capital city a major lead in establishing itself as the culinary hot spot in a country where good value in such matters had become unfashionable, set up the now internationally celebrated Witchery.
The effect has been electric, and even though new restaurants come and go in Edinburgh as they do everywhere, the staying factor somehow seems to be longer in Auld Reekie. Many would agree this is in no small part due to the standards of excellence set by the leaders. Perhaps this is the way it was following the establishment of the Edinburgh Café Royal in 1817
Witchery started with a staff of just three. Now a team of over 200 work with James in his Collection of venues and his first year's turnover is achieved each day. As well as providing a memorable experience in eating, accommodation has been added with eight suites, all of which are as individual and stimulating as their names - Armoury, Old Rectory and Inner Sanctum amongst them. Wall to wall decadence joins with gothic décor to provide what is rightly described as 'an unforgettably magical experience'.
However, in the nature of things a wider audience is fortunate enough to be able to enjoy the delights of the table where the very best of Scotland's produce is invoked to bring pleasure to the discerning. Lunch and dinner is served daily from an à la carte menu, with incredible light meal value offered at lunchtime and theatre suppers for a modest £15.95 for two courses, there is also a three course lunch or dinner menu for £30.
The à la carte assembles a selection of about nine starters, for any of which most of us would gladly make almost any sacrifice, not least the dressed Isle of Mull brown crab with cherry tomato confit, quail egg, lardons and cider dressing; a steak tartare or the platter of Scottish seafood on which is assembled some of Scotland's finest with a half or whole lobster to suit.
It's reassuring to order roast hot-smoked Loch Duart salmon with sweet potato, green beans and butter sauce, to find that it still had that same distinctive taste remembered from more rustic days when they would be cooked with some immediacy, and far less skill than that deployed here. Oysters and fish remains one of the favorites from the sea, or on your plate at Witchery where it comes with dishes such as Lindisfarne oysters, grown on the seashore of the Lindisfarne nature reserve and herb-baked Guy Grieve's scallops with smoked Iberico pancetta and garlic. It is indeed a dish fit for those who pass this way in search of the best and do not make their journey in vain.
A Witchery pudding selection is guaranteed to give pleasure; passion fruit and mascarpone trifle with pistachio biscotti is a combination made in heaven.
Talking of heaven leads on to the wine list which is selected by an enthusiastic team run by James Thomson himself. It embraces almost 500 wines, covering all the great wine producing areas, and has a special selection of seventeen available by the glass.
There are those who say that Witchery is a restaurant you should go to once in a lifetime. You should go there as often as you feel able to do so, for places like this are indeed rare, and life is for living - well.
More information can be found on their Website.
Modern British, Scottish
: 12:00 - 16:00 17:00 - 23:30 (last orders)
0131 225 5613
Castlehill, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH1 2NF [Map]
£15.95 (2 courses), 12 - 4 pm, £30 (3 courses)
£15.95 (2 courses), 5.30 - 6.30 pm, 10.30 - 11.30 pm, £30 (3 courses)
(Avg Price is the average cost per person for two courses, coffee, half a bottle of house wine and tip/service)
REVIEWS OF The Witchery
Nick S (15 March 2010)
I make my fourth visit to The Witchery, pre-match before the Scotland vs. England match at Murrayfield, so time to say something! If you go for à la carte, this is a totally positive experience. My father had a stunning fruits de mere and I was very happy with the scallop starter. The wine list, and I am a wine collector, is vast, bordering on intimidating though, for me, that is merely a challenge. Please be real about this place, allow some time for a lunch and don't expect much change out of £100. Is it worth it? Yes!
Kinveachy (26 January 2009)
We went there for my girlfriend's 30th birthday treat. Romantic atmosphere, great service - you can relax and enjoy your time there rather than have an over attentive waiter who rushes you through your evening. The food was amazing. This place is not inexpensive, but the good places never are. The eel starter was fantastic, as was the venison main and the rabbit. The Witchery pudding selection was the icing on the cake! Fantastic. The wine menu is large, but there's something for every taste and budget. Highly recommended!
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More Info for The Witchery
- Children welcome
- Air condition
- Groups allowed
- Outside seating
- Cover charge
Not included, 10% (optional) for 8 or more
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