I am a huge fan of Italian food. UK’s Italian food scene is quite wide ranging from traditional restaurants serving pizza and pasta to contemporary restaurants offering more experimental dishes. Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Mile Edinburgh houses one of the best Italian Restaurant in Edinburgh called the Cucina- a vibrant restaurant with head chef Andrew McQueen at its helm. It offers dishes made from sustainable and local ingredients which includes honey from the hotel’s rooftop beehives.
Bespoke Sharing Menu
During the press trip, we kicked off our culinary experience with bespoke sharing lunch menu at the Cucina restaurant. Lunch started with a beetroot shot and a fantastic selection of starters which included the Spring Salad and Scottish Smoked Salmon.The vegetables had a wonderful crunchiness which did justice to these fresh ingredients of the salad. Scotland is known for its salmon, and the smoked salmon didn’t disappoint. Our starters were perfectly paired with a glass of wine; with fruity notes, it was a great match.
The next course included grilled chicken breast with mash potato & soy dressing and, Mushroom risotto. The risotto with mushrooms was dairy and gluten free which was quite an innovative concept- not something that I would expect, but it tasted delicious. The risotto was cooked al dente to the just right texture, and I just loved it.
The mash potato with the grilled chicken was very special. The creamy mash balanced the grilled chicken very well. Chef Andrew has excellent skill in combining different textures to create a delicious dish. I discovered new sensation every time I tasted any of the dishes from the menu.
For dessert, there was a selection of strawberry curd, blood orange pannacotta and chocolate muffins. The blood orange pannacotta was my favourite dessert from the selection. The orange zest made the pannacotta more exotic in taste; it lingered in my memory for the rest of the day.
Bespoke Dinner Menu
The excellent bespoke dinner menu elevated our gastronomical journey. I chose the courgette potato and parsley soup for the starters. The soup was so fresh and bursting with flavour.
My stone bass fillet was served with Jerusalem artichoke, peas, mussels and saffron. The stone bass was very delicate and the skin was perfectly crispy. The flavours of the vegetables worked well with the saffron and stone base fillet. The portion sizes of the starter and main course were generous. For dessert, I opted for the caramelised citrus curd which was a fantastic end to our delicious meal.
Breakfast is served at Cucina each morning with a vast variety buffet serving cold and hot dishes in addition to ala carte menu. I ate at the buffet and didn’t order anything from the a la carte although it was very tempting.
Vegan Afternoon Tea
The hotel in collaboration with a leading Edinburgh health café Pumpkin Brown offers vegan afternoon tea at the Cucina restaurant. With growing number of people turning to plant-based diets, this is a brilliant initiative to cater to people who can’t have the dairy-filled delights or people who want to have a healthier alternative to traditional afternoon teas.
Arguably the most important companion to any afternoon tea is a beverage. There was a great selection of traditional and exotic teas. I chose the Passion De Fleurs- White tea, it smelt amazing and had a fresh taste with flavours of apricot and passion fruit.
The food spread of the afternoon tea was beautifully presented in a bespoke wooden shelf tray; it looked like a masterpiece. I made my way through the delicate sandwiches- gluten-free bread filled with bbq pulled jackfruit and coleslaw. Other savoury selections included the mini vegan quiche, avocado & cucumber roll, hummus, almonds, oriental vegetable wrap, Roasted squash & quinoa & citrus dressing.
While I loved the savoury selection, the star attraction of the afternoon tea was the desserts. I enjoyed the fruits decorating the lemon blueberry cheesecake, the crunchiness of the chocolate nut slice, the consistency of the chocolate berry cheesecake and the subtle flavours of the lemon and raspberry tart. The scone was light and fluffy and was accompanied with the lightest dairy free clotted cream I have ever had. The clotted cream complimented the homemade strawberry jam which I was piling on my scone quite generously.
I would say it was one of the best vegan afternoon tea’s I have ever had so I would highly recommend it.
On Sundays, Cucina offers a bottomless brunch menu. The menu is packed with fresh locally sourced ingredients and does justice to the concept of farm to table using hydroponically-grown herbs.
As we glanced through the brunch menu, our friendly waitress explained us the menu in detail. We were able to share a selection of starter from the chef’s table which included cold cuts, smoked fish, salads, bread, pastries and dressings. For the main course and dessert, we were able to choose from the menu. There was, of course, unlimited bubbly to compliment the brunch.
For the main course, the brunch menu had classic options like eggs Benedict, eggs Florentine, eggs royal, roast chicken, roast beef, smoked salmon, and full English breakfast. They also had more unusual dishes likes haddock fishcakes with eggs and potato gnocchi. The desserts had all the usual favourites like the sticky toffee pudding, chocolate pave, fresh fruit sorbet and waffles.
I chose the haddock fish cakes with spinach, poached egg and mustard sauce. The mustard sauce gave the fish cake the right amount of flavour. It was wonderfully filling so I gave the dessert a miss.
The Epicurean bar at the hotel is a fashionista’s dream. With a warm, upbeat ambience and stylish fixtures, it creates a vibrant spot for enjoying cocktails at leisure.
The cocktail menu has a fantastic selection of Scottish spirits and malts, and the mixologist shakes up some of the most exceptional colourful cocktails.
During the cocktail master class, the bartender asked me for my cocktail preferences and taught me how to make the perfect French Martini as I mentioned in my last post. The French martini was made with an excellent combination of liqueur, pineapple juice and Vodka. The cocktail was served in a swanky martini glass and topped with foam. I loved the cocktail, it had the right balance of flavour and sweetness.
It was a sheer pleasure to dine at the Cucina restaurant and Epicurean bar at Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Mile Edinburgh. The friendly hotel staff went above and beyond to ensure we received an impeccable experience.