Many would call The Witchery by The Castle the most romantic restaurant in Edinburgh and we wouldn’t argue.
In the latest Chewin’ the Fat interview, we go behind the scenes and ask Head Chef Douglas Roberts how he and his team keep the magic strong.
Originally opened in 1979, The Witchery’s opulent decor and commitment to using the best Scottish produce has attracted Edinburgh residents and visitors alike.
The guestbook details many a famous name and everyone from Jack Nicholson to Catherine Zeta-Jones has dined there.
Most romantic restaurant in Edinburgh
Douglas recently celebrated 25 years at The Witchery and has been key to developing its reputation for fine food using the best seasonal local produce.
We talk about The Witchery, Thermomixers and, of course, we find out who would win in a punch-up between Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal.
You can enjoy two courses for £19.95.
With its candle light, heraldic painted ceilings and ancient oak panelling hung with tapestries, the interior transports diners to another world.
And £19.95 is a very appealing price to soak in the ambience and dine in the most romantic restaurant in Edinburgh.
At the foot of the blog, we have a film of Douglas in action. He is cooking roast breast of Gartmorn Farm Duck, confit of carrot and potato fondant with a Madeira and foie gras jus.
Can you describe the style of food served at the restaurant?
Modern British / European influences.
Is there a most popular dish for your customers?
Lamb Wellington for two to share.
Lots of people call The Witchery the most romantic restaurant in Edinburgh. Do you see many proposals over dinner?
The décor is undoubtedly part of The Witchery’s romantic appeal. The oak-panelled Witchery is very baroque while the Secret Garden has its own elegant charm. It is certainly not unheard of for wedding proposals to take place in between the lamb Wellington and the Belgian chocolate tart.
Of course, The Witchery also has nine lavishly decorated suites that scream romance with a capital R. They are very decadent with a sultry gothic decor, suits of armour and roll-top baths big enough for two!
What got you into cooking to begin with?
My Grandmother, great cook.
Where did you first start working?
Woodside Hotel, Musselburgh.
What has changed on Edinburgh/Scotland’s restaurant scene since then?
The dining scene has exploded, so many great places have opened and new ones are opening all the time. People are generally more interested in food, more experimental and health conscious.
You have a magic wand. What one change would most improve Scotland’s restaurants?
Let Scottish restaurants get the pick of Scottish seafood before London restaurants.
Is there any food you hated as a kid but love now?
What is your favourite ingredient to work with?
Shellfish – the good stuff, and we’ve got some of the best there is, it just needs a bit of care whilst cooking and very little else.
What do you like to eat on a night off?
Good Singaporean noodles.
Is there anything you couldn’t eat?
What has been the most exotic thing you have eaten?
What gadget/utensil can’t you work without?
Thermomix – every chef’s best friend.
Ketchup or Maldon sea salt?
Maldon sea salt.
You can get anyone in the world to cook you a meal. Who will it be?
Raymond Blanc – his passion for food is inspiring.
Apart from your own establishment, where do you like to eat out?
Aizle in Edinburgh and The Ivy in London.
What is the best thing about being a chef?
And the worst?
The check printer.
Have celeb chefs been a good or bad thing on the whole?
A bit of both, they brought cooking and food into the limelight but also made it look glam when in reality it’s really hard graft.
Who cooks at home?
I cook mostly. However, my wife comes up with some crazy concoctions. She never uses a recipe book but just throws everything in a pan and it comes out tasting great.
What is in your fridge at home?
Morbier cheese, milk and Castanis – a premium pastis or French aniseed drink.
What has been your most memorable meal?
Truffle tasting menu, Hotel Florentine, Lyon.
Tell us your daftest customer complaint?
We had a veggie dish of spelt risotto from a farm called Doves Farm. The customer complained she couldn’t find any dove in the dish!!
What is your best piece of printable kitchen slang?
Erm, we’re a pretty modern kitchen, with no Ramsayesque fits but even still I’d struggle to find something you could print!
Who would win in a fight. Heston Blumenthal or Gordon Ramsay?