This latest Edinburgh restaurant venture was brought to life by Des McDonald, the prolific London restauranteur and and ex-CEO of Caprice Holdings (owners of amongst others, the Ivy, J Sheekey and Scott’s).  Mr McDonald has a dual life of creating his own restaurants including his very first called Vintage Salt and also working as a consultant to the restaurant trade.  He has been working closely with the owners of the George Hotel and Head Chef Colin Fleming to create a classy restaurant from what used to be our last stop before heading home from a night out, the old Tempus Bar.
George Street
They have kept the revolving doors and you are propelled into the main restaurant itself which looks very 1920’s and eschews the slightly boring muted colour schemes of gastropubs elsewhere in the city.  You expect to be greeted by the Great Gatsby himself in this glamorous establishment where the staff are dressed up in bow ties, trousers and waistcoats – it’s all quite theatrical and fun.  The atmosphere on the Friday night we went was lively and we first enjoyed a drink in the bar area  before dinner.  The original bar is no more and the new one is now up the stairs to the right where the staff were busy mixing cocktails.
View from the bar to the front restaurant.
There seems to be a couple of themes going on but the name harks back to a couple of literary connections; the novelist Susan Ferrier lived at this address in the late 18th Century and then John Oliphant in the early 19th century.  Descendants of these families went on to found the publishing company Oliphant, Anderson and Ferrier.  It’s a wee bit tenuous and there are a few token typewriters scattered about the place although it does seem a little bit half hearted.  Dining is available in the bar area too but we were in the main restaurant and our waitress soon ushered us through to our table.  We were at a banquette table for two which was a lovely spot to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy a relaxed evening.
The bar area
They have an all day food menu that has a mixture of casual dining classics along with some more imaginative gastropub dishes too.  As you would expect,  the menu is seasonal, Scottish and has the provenance of its ingredients written large over it.  We were offered some tap water and drinks while we were perusing the menu deciding what to have.  The starter menu is quite extensive and seems a bit at odds with the main course menu, like menus from two different restaurants.  This Jekyl and Hyde approach works well though as you can mix and match depending on how the mood takes you.
Our lovely waitress for the evening brought us some warm (actually hot) bread to nibble on which was nicer when it had cooled down a bit.  Service is smart/casual with lots of attentive staff on hand to deal with any requests – including an emergency wobbly table in our case.  Our starters soon arrived with a flourish and they both looked amazing.  Donnie’s Eyemouth langoustine thermidor tart with shellfish vinaigrette (£9) looked particularly eye-catching with its langoustine shell standing guard.  The pastry was unbelievably light and crisp contrasting beautifully with the velvety creamy tarragon infused langoustine filling.  The addition of the shellfish vinaigrette enhanced the flavours along with the tangle of watercress.  My wood pigeon (£8) was also a lovely dish, cooked to pink perfection with the crunchy beetroot and delicate hazelnut crowdie cheese – can’t say that I got much hazelnut flavour but it tasted great.
Langoustine thermidor tart
Wood Pigeon
After a nice length of time our main courses arrived; mine was the roast cod with cepes, braised lentils, kale and celeriac (£17.50) while Donnie went for the spatchcock Borders grouse with red cabbage, brambles and a side of fries (£19).  The lovely flaky cod stood up well to the meaty mushroom flavour of the cepes and the additional samphire gave it a nice salty seaside flavour.  The grouse was also big on flavour – the bird comes whole and is cooked medium rare on a Josper grill giving it a delicious smokey flavour while remaining succulent and juicy.  The brambles were a bit scarce in the sauce but the flavour was tangy and sweet.
Roast Cod
Spatchcock Border’s Grouse
Desserts sounded nice if a bit unexciting and we were both quite full anyway so we just shared a trio of sorbets (£5) that tasted nice and fresh.  We often enjoy a glass of dessert wine but the menu offered us a choice of a bottle at £42 or a bottle at £128 – to have with a £5 dessert, really? This was a soft-launch evening so we received 50% from our food bill although I would happily have paid the full amount as we thoroughly enjoyed our dining experience at The Printing Press.  We left with a smile on our faces and that’s all you can ask really – their kitchen is open for comfort food until 1am so I’m sure we’ll be paying a visit on our way home soon.
21-25 George Street