Contini Cannonball Restaurant
I've been lucky enough to visit the Contini's newest restaurant venture, sixteenth century Cannonball House beside Edinburgh Castle, twice now. Once for a tasting menu along with two of my favourite food bloggers (LeilAppetite and MyMonkfish) and the lovely Fiona from Taste Communications - and once for a girlie Christmas lunch, as a paying customer.
I'll give you a brief background to the restaurant before I launch in, as it's actually quite interesting. For those of you who don't know them, Victor and Carina Contini are the couple behind the newly rebranded Contini Ristorante (formerly Centotre) on George Street and The Scottish Cafe & Restaurant at The Scottish National Gallery on The Mound. This latest opening is a partnership with the buildings owners, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, and after sensitive remodelling of the listed building, the Continis opened in August. Spread over three floors is Contini Caffe - a beautiful traditional Gelateria, porridge bar and cafe and Cannonball Restaurant on the top floor.
Now this is where I have to make a confession, but please don't tell anyone. On arriving early to the bloggers dinner (on an extremely cold October evening) I popped into the Caffe to wait with a coffee and was obliged to try the ice cream, which "accidentally" turned out to be a rather large sundae...Now in my defence, I hadn't realised the bloggers event was a full dinner. Not that it made me eat any less! Anyway, the point is, it was the most amazing creamy ice cream I've ever tasted and was made that morning by the very lovely girl that served me. I loved that! The phrase "kid in a candy shop" comes to mind when I think of this place.
At 6pm I made my way up the candle-lit stairs to the top floor and was shown to my table and welcomed with a glass of Prosecco. Off to a good start! With the castle literally next door the views are simply stunning. Sadly, there is limited seating with views of the castle and being a listed building there wasn't anything the Continis could have done to remedy that. (My advice would be to book early and request a castle view table if possible).
My fellow dining companions soon joined me and I was delighted that I was in such good company. As the food and wine flowed so did the chat, and what I thought was going to be a standard bloggers event turned out to be more like dinner with the girls!
Here's what we ate:
First up, Findlay's haggis cannonballs with pickled turnip and Morelli beer mustard. These were perfectly crispy and the unusual accompaniment worked really well.
Next, Isle of Mull hand-dived scallop with garlic butter and lemon. This was one of my favourite courses and without doubt the hugest, sweetest and most perfectly cooked scallop I've had the pleasure of eating. It was beautiful. A must try if it's on the menu when you visit.
With each course seemingly better than the next, I was excited to try the in-season Scottish Grouse with blackberries, red wine and beetroot. Cooked pink just to my liking it was tender and succulent and the sweet beetroot paired with it perfectly.
The cheese course was next, Pecorino with chutney, figs and homemade bread. Again the pairing was perfect.
Now, in my humble opinion, the show stopper. Valhrona 70% chocolate and amarena cherry torte. WOW! It was so rich and delicious I didn't want it to end!
This was genuinely one of the most beautiful food experiences I've had in a long time - a real treat. The menu is packed with seasonal Scottish produce with an Italian sprinkling. In fact, I liked it so much I made my mum and dad go the following week! They too loved it. I've also since been for a Christmas lunch and really enjoyed it.
Slightly hidden away beside the castle, as a local you'd have to make the effort to go as you wouldn't normally be passing by. But please do make the effort - you won't be disappointed. And if you don't have the time for dinner, go for ice cream instead!
Huge thank you to the Continis and Taste Communications for hosting us and for providing all these images (as my phone battery helpfully died on me) and of course to the team at Canonball for the superb service and food.