Review: Acanthus Restaurant Edinburgh at the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel
When we received an invitation to review the new restaurant at the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel in Edinburgh, I was quite excited. The restaurant has recently had a facelift and what used to be Rocca is now Acanthus.
The dining concept moved from Italian Scottish cuisine to focus on everything Scottish. Located just a short walk from Edinburgh Royal Mile and set among many renowned attractions including the Scottish Parliament, Holyrood Palace and Dynamic Earth. The restaurant is open 7 days a week offering exquisite Brunch, Lunch, Light Offerings, Traditional Afternoon Tea and Dinner. With spectacular views of Arthur’s Seat from the terrace, Acanthus offers something truly unique to Edinburgh’s already thriving food and drink scene.
At Acanthus they believe that in Scotland, we have wonderful resources on our doorstep – the best seafood, the best beef, and that’s what they want to serve to their customers. Everything at Acanthus screams SCOTLAND! The restaurant is Scottish, the menu is Scottish and the ingredients are Scottish.
When we arrived the place was very busy, we were welcomed by the restaurant manager William, and showed to our very comfortable and private booth. The Acanthus layout is a mix of tables in an open dining area, secluded booths for business meetings or romantic diners, and a bar area with standing space in the centre.
William recommended an excellent wine from new wine list, a Chateau de Campuget 1753 Viognier. I normally go for Sauvignon Blanc, but William convinced me that I will not regret my choice…and I didn’t! What a wonderful start to the evening!
There was a larger party at another table laughing & joking and it was nice to see the staff joining in with the humour. Acanthus has very good reputation for customer service and going the extra mile to accommodate guest needs, you can see that in abundance.
We had a look at the menu online before we arrived so we knew exactly what we were going to order. The menu reads very well and there is nothing I would not wish to try. From Scottish salmon to Innis & Gunn beer-battered haddock and chips. There lots of great seafood choices on the menu. For more meaty options, the steak section includes fillet, rib-eye and sirloin of Scotch beef, there is also an Acanthus Burger, which comes with haggis, cheese, tomato chutney, garlic mayonnaise and French fries
To start with I opted for ‘West Coast Scallops’ (Stornoway black pudding, caramelised celeriac, Granny Smith apple) and Andy went for ‘Wild Mushroom and Leek Tart.’
West coast scallops (Stornoway black pudding, caramelised celeriac, Granny Smith apple)
Scallops are always on the top of my list, and served with Stornoway black pudding, which of course is Scottish, and Scottish Granny Smith apples, which I’ve had before, and know is a winning combo! The Scallops were fresh and cooked to perfection. Fresh and meaty and beautifully caremalised on the outside!
Wild mushroom and leek tart (Crowdie cheese, pea shoots and walnuts)
The bread that came with the starters was very nice. Both the white and brown bread was baked to perfection, with the crust having an amazing crispy texture to it and the main body of the bread was very moist but held together well after being dipped in the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
For my main I went for the ‘Wild Halibut’ (caramelised celeriac purée, crab bon bon, spring greens, roasted artichokes and shellfish reduction).
Wild halibut (caramelised celeriac purée, crab bon bon, spring greens, roasted artichokes and shellfish reduction)
I had been recommended wild halibut by William, and again his recommendation did not disappoint me. Halibut is one of the signature dishes at Acanthus, and one of the most popular. The halibut was cooked to perfection, the delicate tender texture was almost melting in my mouth and white meat was falling apart with every stroke of the fork.
One thing you need to know about Halibut, it’s the largest of the flatfish family, and its tender texture makes it perfect for grilling or sautéing. Only frozen halibut tends to overcook and dry out. The halibut served at Acanthus had fresh and light flavour. An excellent addition to the dish were the crab bon bons. Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, which added a little bit of texture to the dish. My main course was an extraordinary example of balanced flavours cooked to perfection
8oz Sirloin steak served with hand-cut chips, smoked tomato, watercress and flat mushroom
To finish off I I went for the ‘Dark Chocolate Tart (milk crumb, salted caramel, mint foam). Freshly prepared crunchy tart filled with dark chocolate mousse, sprinkled with milk crumb and topped with mint foam and salted caramel with caramel popcorn sounded like heaven to me! I absolutely loved the presentation, and it took me a while before I decided to destroy the beautiful plate that chef John had put so much effort into! It was sensational, one of the best desserts I have ever had and I would be happy to return and just order ten of them and not move for a whole afternoon!
Dark Chocolate Tart (milk crumb, salted caramel, mint foam)
Rhubarb (rhubarb cheesecake, poached rhubarb, rhubarb purée, rhubarb tart, crème fraîche sorbet)
We finished our meal with petit fours and coffee. Fresh coffee was served at the end of the meal accompanied with a piece of tablet, brownie and fruit jelly.
One thing that you must know about dining at Acanthus, it’s got very relaxed brasserie style atmosphere and when you add excellent attentive staff and top quality produce and modern cooking you can expect only truly memorable meal.
I love the fact that they put so much attention to sourcing local produce and supporting local Scottish businesses.
You would expect from big corporate hotel to source all their ingredients from one supplier and have the same menu in every hotel restaurant, but Macdonalds hotels stand out and every single restaurant has its own identity.
I would highly recommend Acanthus not just only because they are using locally sourced produce, but because the entire dining experience is wonderful. Chef John Maltby is one to watch on the Edinburgh dining scene. Ambitious and creative, John is not afraid to experiment and combine his “granny’s recipes” with modern cooking techniques to take food to the next level.
Thank you to everyone at Acanthus for making our evening very special. I have no hesitation in recommending the restaurant to anyone looking for something new and exciting in Edinburgh.
81 Holyrood Road
Tel0344 879 9028 International+44131 550 4500