February 2011 and March 2012
Oloroso Bar and Restaurant Castle Street, Edinburgh
Oloroso Terrace
Sadly now closed :(

Aidan, Jude, Mother and I first came here at Mum's prompting all because of her addiction to the novels of Alexander McCall Smith. Apparently she was recommended the place by a Isabel Dalhousie - a character from Smith's Sunday Philosophy Club series.

Well, thanks Isabel; clearly a character of impeccable taste. The restaurant has done well by us on two occasions now. It's not the cheapest place to eat, and the food isn't the most adventurous, but it's reliably good, and I have paid more for dinner. Plus you get terrific views of the city thrown in.
Oloroso is the on the top floor of a building between George Street and Prince's street and has a terrace which circles half of the building, so you get views of the castle by peering over one end of the railings, and fine views down to the Forth from the other side. You're high enough not to be bothered by the permanent excavations that have replaced Princes Street and in which they are currently burying any hope of a city tramline. In our week of summer you could almost imagine eating outside. If you had a sweater. And a coat. And an umbrella.

Fortunately the food seems more reliable than the weather, on both visits we have tried their lamb, and it has always been beautifully cooked and intelligently served with supporting vegetables. This time it was Judith enjoying her Roast Loin of Lamb (with haricot beans, roast shallot, sautéed kale, thyme jus). Probably just as well she had ordered something with robust flavours, because her starter of Wild Mushroom & Ricotta Tortellini (with goats cheese, cherry tomatoes & rocket pesto) was a bit heavy on the goats cheese for my taste. Tasty but slightly overwhelming.
I seem to have been the only one who thought so, but perhaps I'm just the only one without a completely jaded palette.

My Tartar Risotto starter (with deep fried monkfish cheeks) was a good deal more subtle, but also slightly more disappointing. I thought the idea was intriguing, and I know that Halibut cheeks are reckoned to be the most tender portion - akin to scallops, but in truth I'm not convinced monkfish cheeks are quite such a delicacy though they were nicely fried in a fine breadcrumb, or possibly corn meal. The combination of risotto with deconstructed tartar sauce was, frankly, a bit odd. Perfectly pleasant but I'm not quite sure what the rice contributed that wouldn't have been improved with a simple tartar sauce. I suppose fish cheeks with tartar sauce might have seemed a little skimpy as a starter?

Aidan was holding out for his massive Bhangra Burger so he skipped a starter. And indeed the burger was enormous, as well as enormously expensive at £45, but a surprising amount of it was actually bread. Fair enough though - there was a lot of delicious oozing to soak up and all that bun came in handy for it. The burger is described as 8oz of slow roasted organic lamb flank, aloo & nut tikka, spiced onions, jalapenos, cheese and comes with Tony's special Devil Sauce. I have to say it's a magnificently tasty burger, quite hot enough by itself, and the extra Devil Sauce would be sufficiently fiery for most people. Most people.
It comes on a trendily distressed, but awkwardly narrow piece of faux driftwood with a rocket salad and some fat chips, but there's also a spicy potato layer under the lamb patty. What chef Tony Singh describes as a whole meal in your hands, if you have big hands.
Lord only knows what you get for your £55 Castle Rock steak burger!

Mum had a delicate pan-fried Megrim Sole with Shetland black potatoes, roast salsify, baby spinach & a mussel velouté - surprisingly fat fillets actually. Nothing spectacular but nicely done.
I went for the interesting-sounding Roast Duck with tamarind broth, noodles, vegetables & fresh coriander which was indeed an ingenious combination of flavours. The tartness of the tamarind offsetting the richness of the (ever-so-slightly overcooked) thick duck slices. The only disadvantage being that I had failed to order anything with which to soak up the thin sauce.

In between courses we were served with a coffee cup of what would have made the best starter of all - a delicious Tomato, red pepper, roast garlic soup with basil Amuse Bouche.
Gorgeous, deep, rich flavours - if it makes it on to the menu anytime soon - slurp it up!

An honourable mention also has to go to their Lacy Squid, on the menu last time we visited - extremely thinly sliced squid which rolled itself up like frizzy curly fries when cooked. The thin paring seemed to help with the texture too, not the least bit rubbery. It was really good. But they didn't have it this visit. Pity. Must try it at home sometime.

Finally for dessert we shared a (very blue, and very strong) cheese board (with Celery & Chilli Chutney, Organic Honey & Oatcakes), Mum had a trio of Forced Rhubarb samples - an ice cream, panacotta and crumble, and I tried one of Oloroso's (many) Grey Goose & Sorbet combinations. Not quite sure what's up with that - some kind of sponsorship deal? I wonder if the deal covers the tasteful but complicated glass apparatus it was served in?
I chose Le Citron Grey Goose with a crème fraîche sorbet, and it worked very well. Surprisingly well actually - I really didn't think that it would.
I'm not an enormous fan of rhubarb, I don't like the way it puts little socks on my teeth, but I quite liked Mum's panacotta. The ice cream was too faintly flavoured I thought, and the crumble topping sadly soggy, but the filling was quite good. The menu didn't specify whether the rhubarb was Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb from the famed Yorkshire Rhubarb Triangle, in Yorkshire, now awarded European Protected Designation of Origin status don't cha know, but I like to think that it was. Always worth getting in a plug for one's native produce!

On the basis of our two visits I can heartily recommend Oloroso, for the views, for the food, and for the book reference. If it's any help I would suggest, though, that you don't sit near the entrance in winter - there's a heck of a draught.