“This looks a bit romantic for us; there’s a love tunnel!” was Big Rob’s first impression. My companion was right; we entered the narrow gap between tall Royal Mile buildings through a tunnel of arched twigs starred by fairy lights. Inside, we were met by a juxtaposition of styles. A modern bar with orchid-stamen stools opposes a fireplace and bookshelf, whilst you can dine sitting on straight backed wood and leather or see-through plastic chairs. It works, there’s no sense of conflict, and once settled in it’s easy to see why, after just over a year of business, Montieth’s holds style bar and cocktail bar awards.
For starters, mussel and haddock risotto was good, but all thunder was stolen by the scallops en croute. A huge scallop shell arrived apparently naked on a plate, closed and sealed by a rim of puff pastry, which our waitress whipped open with drama and ceremony. Inside four plump scallops nestled with chilli jam and rocket - the best scallop dish I have had in a long while. Pigeon, chorizo and pancetta beat confit rabbit’s leg in the battle of the mains but both were well conceived dishes and cooked just right. The pigeon would have been even better if it had come with the advertised puy lentils, but we had to make do with chickpeas instead.
Most of the few minor gripes don’t seem worth mentioning as they were all outweighed by positives. It didn’t matter that the service was slightly shaky; the staff were convivial and enthusiastic and left a good impression anyway. Monteith’s works well and they have done an excellent job with the small space they’ve been given. The menu is neither cheap nor is it bad value; happily the prices don’t seem to be over inflated by the central kilt-and-cashmere location. Go if you can, it’s difficult to think of many places that would give a better impression this Valentine’s Day.