Make your way down a Dickensian London court to enter a Hollywood-esque version of auld Edinburgh, with tartan seats, dark red and green walls, aged-looking woodwork and waitresses in wee tartan skirts. There’s a smart bar at ground level, and a cavern-like basement housing the main dining room. For all the shortbread-tin heritage vibe, this branch of Boisdale is a comfortable and well-run spot, where you immediately feel well looked after.
The ‘Jacobite’ set menu – a City bargain at £19.75 – included what may be the world’s finest scotch egg, made with smooth, savoury haggis offset by hot mustard relish. To follow, a Pilmoor Grange chicken and mushroom pie in perfectly crisp pastry was a similarly enjoyable mix of comfort food and sophistication. Prices shoot up for the carte, which includes an imposing choice of Aberdeen Angus steaks, as well as oysters and other Scottish options.
All three Boisdales host very respectable music programmes, with leading performers in jazz and other styles. They also share similarly impressive – but not overpriced – wine lists, and, naturally, a magnificent choice of whiskies. Havana cigars are a speciality too, but nowadays aficionados are advised to head for the Belgravia branch and its heated cigar terrace.
The restaurant offers a modern-British menu focused on Aberdeenshire dry-aged steaks, Highland game and Hebridean shellfish in addition to Scottish treats such as Loch Ryan native oysters, Dunkeld smoked salmon and roast Macsween's haggis served with obligatory mash and neeps. The food is accompanied by an extensive wine selection as well as a premium whisky list and hand-rolled Cuban cigars.
The ground floor Champagne & Oyster Bar for drinking and relaxed dining has a large contingent of regular and devoted City customers. The restaurant on the lower ground floor offers more formal dining with booths and alcoves for private business discussions as well as the traditional Piano Bar.
On Saturday nights the entertainment is provided by TJ Johnson, backed by his band of top British musicians who present music influenced by the likes of Ray Charles, Dr John, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Cash, BB King, Nina Simone, Alberta Hunter, Jimmy Witherspoon and many more.