There was considerable jealousy when I was invited to visit Magnum and enjoy a complimentary dinner with my besty. The rest of the team thought it was rather unfair and I was depriving them of a great opportunity, to be honest they may have a point. One would have spent the review making continual references to Dirty Harry movies, whilst the wine buff would try and reference all the types of wine bottle, both would throw in at least one reference to a moustachioed, Ferrari driving PI (who I only know as Monica's boyfriend Richard.)
I will do none of these things and instead concentrate on writing about what a great dinner I had.
We walked down to the restaurant from Harvey Nicks and it only took a couple of minutes, but not in a direction I would have ever thought about before, which it turns out was very silly of me. We were going to look elsewhere for a drink before dinner, but as we turned the corner we realised that the restaurant was much bigger than it first looks and as we went in the door we found ourselves in a nice comfortable bar. So we did the sensible thing and got a couple of glasses of wine.
We hadn't told anyone who we were yet, so it was good to see how friendly and relaxed the staff were with all the customers, including us. The bar is child friendly and judging by the regular who appeared with his spaniel, dog friendly too. It was a nice laid-back environment that was very welcoming and much nicer than some of the pretentious wine bars you get a little closer to Princes Street. Considering The Magnum is five minutes from the shops, the same from the Playhouse and just down from the York Place tram stop, I can't work out why I have never been here before.
We got up and said we were booked in and were shown to our table, again the friendly staff were lovely and rather efficient, providing menus, taking a drinks order and bringing over water and then a delicious crusty olive bread and butter within a few minutes of us making ourselves comfortable.
Our starters arrived quickly, but no so fast that we felt rushed, girls need time to gossip remember!
The smoked salmon starter was a generous size and the dill pancakes were perfectly soft, but with a little bit of crispiness outside, beautiful. The horseradish cream was a perfect accompaniment, sometimes a heavy horseradish-laden hand can ruin a dish, but the balance here was perfect. The parsnip crisps on their own are worth a mention and were a delicious garnish to the dish.
The carpaccio of duck starter was again generous, with slices of perfectly pink duck breast all with a slightly spicy crust. The orange dressing was initially concerning, I worried that we were delving into a retro eighties, duck a l'orange style meltdown, but no instead it was again very well balanced to the spice and succulence of the duck. I am starting to think at this point that the chef has a pretty good idea what they are doing with all these flavours.
We were asked if we enjoyed our starter as the very empty plates were cleared away, I think the answer may have been obvious! Whilst we sat waiting for our main course we looked enviously at the battered haddock that a neighbouring table were tucking into. It was nice to see the flexibility that the bar menu was served through in the restaurant, if that's what you fancy, but that again points at the relaxed style that Magnum has going on.
The venison was cooked exactly to our order and because my fussy friend doesn't like mushrooms, it came without. I maybe just a little bit upset at her as I would have quite happily had the garlic and thyme infused fungi myself! Presentation was sharp, with a tight square of dauphinoise potatoes, neat broccoli cylinder and a generous venison steak. The redcurrant sauce ran a touch, but as it pulled the part of the meal together so well, I definitely don't think that a generous Saucier should be criticised! The potatoes had a rich creaminess and again a good balance of flavour with the garlic so as to not be overpowering. It was declared “the best venison” that had been eaten in a long time, high praise indeed.
The rib-eye was a generous size, there is no weight on the menu so I can't tell you exactly how big, but even my hubby would find it an ample meal. It was again cooked perfectly to order. The chips have that excellent contrast of crunch outside and fluffy middle that in my mind defines the perfect chip. The vine tomatoes added just a touch of sweetness to the dish and livened up the plate. I couldn't help thinking that a steak really could do with mushrooms, and may have muttered something under my breath about my buddy not having any...! The redcurrant jus from earlier puts in an re-appearance and manages to raise a good meal into the excellent category.
During the meal the ever attentive staff checked we were happy (which we very much were) and I noticed that they did so with all the other customers, occasionally stopping for a chat and a friendly word before moving on.
I was feeling rather full and contented, but the dessert menu was just too tempting. I initially put up a brave defence and thought about saying no, but peer pressure and the option of a sticky toffee pudding was just too much for my brains feeble protestations.
An excellent choice it was too, served warm it was a beautiful contrast of salted caramel, sweet pudding and the rich creamy vanilla bean ice cream which served to pull out all the flavours, textures and temperatures and, wow that is all...
The Cranachan cheesecake was a gorgeous twist on the Scottish classic. The oat and honey base was not sweet, like a digestive cheesecake base, but truer to the original dessert. The smooth creaminess of the cheesecake was slightly flavoured with honey and served as the perfect backdrop to the Raspberry compote on top, which was simply stunning. Why the chef's don't put it in a jar and sell it separately I don't know, they'd make a fortune!
All in all, an excellent meal in a friendly relaxed environment. The kitchen brigade are clearly a talented bunch and make good use of blending flavours beautifully. The front of house staff, as well as being friendly are very efficient with service smooth and well timed. We were there on a quiet Sunday, so I don't know how they would perform under pressure, but on the evidence we saw, I reckon they'd be just fine!
When it comes to counting out the pennies the restaurant menu is well priced for what I would expect for a decent meal in Edinburgh at between £27-£35 for three courses and the meal we had was easily worth that price. I would definitely go back and would quite happily recommend The Magnum, a meal there will make your day...
The Magnum very kindly invited us to dine at their expense, but the views remain my own and that of my dining partner.
Following a really marvellous meal, we have returned to The Magnum on another couple of occasions and I am pleased to say both the food and service have remained as good as the first time.