Angels with Bagpipes is the latest addition to the Valvona and Crolla string of Edinburgh delis and eateries started in 1934 when Alfonso Crolla opened Valvona & Crolla on Elm Row, which is still there today.
It opened in July 2010 and is inspired by nearby St Giles’ Cathedral and the angel playing bagpipes in the Thistle Chaple. Lex McFadyen was commissioned to design the impressive bronze carving of an angel with bagpipes which stands in the restaurant window above the stairs.
The statue certainly has wow factor, but would the food…?
Mr Mac and I along with good friend Jane Stewart and her friend JR went along to find out…
We arrived to find that the restaurant had no record of our reservation (made earlier the same day). At one point, I feared that we’d have to eat elsewhere which would have been disappointing. However, the matter was resolved and we were seated.
The restaurant is atmospherically lit and welcoming. We were seated at a table where we would have enjoyed views through the floor to ceiling windows if it hadn’t been so dark. We also looked out onto a terraced area which I will return to try next Summer fingers crossed we get one!). Furnished with contemporary styled wooden chairs, perfectly chosen flowers and elaborate candleabras, I liked the look. The restaurant was busy when we arrived at 7.30pm on a wet Thursday in October.
The menu is mouth-watering and offers enough choice to tantalise rather than perplex with 8 starters and mains, 5 desserts plus sides, it offers just that right amount of choice for my tastes. Starters are between £6.90 and £11.45, mains £12.95 – £26.95 and sweets £6.95 – £7.95.
As I’d had a rather fabulous 4-course lunch (bad planning!) I opted to skip the starter. Mr Mac and JR both opted for the creamed goats cheese. And what a triumph of artistry it was. It looked divine and according to Mr Mac and JR it tasted that way too. I really should’ve insisted they order different starters for your benefit. I will live up to my Diva name next time. Mr Mac you have been warned!
A visit to the ladies highlights the attention to detail on the style front. Sometimes, even in the chicest of restaurants, a visit to the facilities reveals the truth in the well-known phrase “fur coat and nae knickers”. Not so at Angels. I liked quirky touches such as Angels for the ladies (of course) and Bagpipes for the gents.
The staircase down takes you past the bronzed Angel with Bagpipes herself and gives me an opportunity to share another picture of her with you. I have a collection of this beauty shot from a range of angles. She is magnificent and a visit is Angels is well worth it just to see her.
For main Mr Mac chose the pan fried calves liver. It was served on a bed of polenta and spinach. It looked good. Mr Mac was unimpressed though as it was too rare for his taste, though staff were happy to make it less bloody for him.
Jane ordered the pan-fried stone bass with saffroon cous-cous, fennel and sauce vierge. It looked super and she declared it “a cut above”.
JR ordered the Ayrshire pork cutlet and belly with cavalo nero and apple compote which looked as you’d expect. And judging by the cleanness of his plate afterwards he enjoyed it.
I love scallops so asked if the Orkney scallops starter could be made into a main and Angels were happy to oblige. Oh! Oh! Oh! I have to say it tasted even better than it looks! Big scallops, juicy (yes I must use that word) and super delish, complemented by the black pudding in crispy balls and parsnip purée. One of the best scallop dishes in recent memory. And I’ve had a few!
We really will have to go back as we couldn’t do justice to the menu. None of us could manage a sweet. Coffee, petit fours and port finished off a delicious evening.
So does Angels with Bagpipes live up to the hype…?
…A resounding yes!
The service was good. The atmosphere intimate and the scallops exceptional. I look forward to going back to sample the sweets.
I recommend it and the special lunch menu available 12-6pm Monday to Saturday offers excellent value at 2 courses £13.95 and 3 courses for £17.95
EDINBURGH DIVA RATING: 9/10
ANGELS WITH BAGPIPES RESTAURANT
343 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1PW
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