Great Places to Eat in Scotland
- Tigerlily, George Street, Edinburgh
Tigerlily is the latest creation behind the hugely successful Montpeliers group of bars and restaurants in Edinburgh. The first, in 1992 was a modern pub, Montpeliers, followed by Iguana, a casual café bar, then the upmarket Indigo Yard, a trendy West End bar and bistro. Rick's, on Frederick Street is an award winning boutique hotel, bar and restaurant, and around the corner, the sleek chic cocktail bar, Opal Lounge, (frequented by Prince William in his student days) not forgetting the basement Candy Bar popular with young clubbers. Each one is distinctly different, focusing on diverse qualities of hospitality from fine dining and modern hotel lifestyle to cocktails and nightclubs.
Located on George Street - Edinburgh's premier street for designer stores and style bars - Tigerlily is a most ambitious, multi-million pound project, which has transformed a five storey Grade A listed Georgian townhouse (formerly Standard Life offices) into a 33 bedroom hotel, bar, café, restaurant and (from September 2006), a nightclub called Lulu. The business entrepreneur and managing director behind Montpeliers is David Wither, who with his long serving management team, has quietly and steadily developed his restaurant and hotel company with dynamic vision and flair.
Where to start! Tigerlily does not just have one restaurant space or even one bar. On the ground floor, there is a maze of separate rooms for dining and drinking: inner and outdoor courtyards, small drawing rooms, round booths, banquette seating and two bars - an interior cocktail bar as well as a bright and sunny café bar overlooking the street. Where you sit may depend on the time of day, whether you are here for breakfast, coffee, a business or social lunch, an evening glass of wine or a leisurely dinner. You can even smoke in the small outdoor courtyard, located within the main restaurant. The glamorous, glitzy space combines the grandeur of 19th century period features with fashionably chic furnishings decorated with bold, brash texture and colour. Accent colours are in tomato red, plum and turquoise blue. This is far removed from typical spare, bare minimalist design. Here are fabulous red Perspex lampshades, modern chandeliers, traditional fireplaces, Venetian mirrors, velvet brocade, oak wood, leather seats, and here and there, floral flock and Tigerlily "T" wallpapers. A centre piece is the world's biggest "cloud light" moulded from Italian glass.
The Tigerlily concept was created by Graven Images under leading interior designer, Jim Hamilton: "We designed the whole package; all thirty-three bedrooms with their own individual character, the public spaces, and all graphic materials, from menus to room keys. The brand echoes the Georgian opulence of the Grade A-listed building but is cool and fresh at the same time. We were able to design special furniture and specify some of the most fabulous wall coverings and fabrics on the market."
The restaurant (200 covers) has a choice of seating areas divided by partitions, curtains and steel mesh screens to create intimate spaces. There are large round tables for a small group surrounded by silver beaded drapes, square "American diner" tables, and in a glass roofed courtyard is a more formal dining area featuring Bedouin-style booths.
You can eat and drink at Tigerlily from 8am till late but I shall start with the dinner menu. You are sure to be greeted by charming restaurant manager Hosts as you make you way into the restaurant. Waiting staff all wear a T shirt - Tiger for the boys, and Lily for the girls. Brilliant idea and keeps the brand name upfront. Perhaps have an aperitif first, perched on a stool at the bar. Now to the food. Dublin born, Head chef Suzanne O'Connor is equally creative in the kitchen where she and her team prepare modern European cuisine, with a touch of Eastern spice. She has travelled widely and is inspired by international cuisine. Her aim she says is to use seasonal ingredients, local produce and cook them well without fuss.
The evening menu has a wide choice of gourmet starters - sushi, Inverawe smoked salmon, lemon chicken risotto, goats cheese ravioli, Laksa (spiced coconut and noodle) soup, as well as large antipasti-style platters to share. I began with Scallops on a nest of bokchoi, drizzled with chilli and lemon oil. Delicately grilled, this hit the mark in terms of taste and texture. My partner selected a warm salad of asparagus and crumbly Lanark white cheese. For main course, the menu is divided into Grills and Meat, Vegetarian, Crustacean and Seafood and side orders. Also each night there's a list of specials so the choice is endless. I selected Pan fried sea bass on a bed of warm potato, shallot and rocket salad. The fish was perfectly cooked, so juicy and tender, and the accompanying peppery rocket and crushed potatoes was an ideal combination. My dining companion selected the Special - Linguine in a crab broth, with mussels and king prawn, topped with a Tuna steak and a fat langoustine. What a feast - "exquisite," he said. From the list of side dishes, we shared a bowl of courgettes, thyme and parmesan, a strange mixture perhaps, but it works. Alternative mains include Duck breast with baby vegetables, Angus beef with horseradish mash, and Corn fed chicken stuffed with brie and chanterelle mushrooms. I said this was artistic, creative food!
The Dessert menu is too tempting to ignore. 10/10 for the wicked Chocolate espresso pudding (like a soft chocolate brownie) with vanilla pod ice cream. Alternatively, crème brulée, pecan cheesecake or puddings to share - a chocolate fondue with marshmallows and profiteroles to dip.
Lunch is served (very sensibly) from 12 noon till 6pm. Ideal for office workers, visitors, hotel guests and shoppers who can call in for a pit stop all afternoon. The extensive menu for light snacks and main meals includes soups, foccacia sandwiches, salads, mussels, burgers, pasta, risotto, rib eye steak, sausage and mash. The café at the front of Tigerlily, (and outdoor pavement tables) is the ideal meeting place for tea, coffee and hot chocolate, with a selection of croissants, pastries and cakes - from breakfast to afternoon tea.
As well as serving fine food, the Montpeliers group has always specialised in fabulous bars around Edinburgh city centre, which create a lively party atmosphere to sample a great selection of beers, cocktails, wines, champagne and spirits. Tigerlily Bar manager Jamie Macdonald previously worked at Rick's and as a professional mixologist, he has won many awards including Scottish winner of the Sputnik Vodka Award and Campari's Summer Cocktail design. He is also Brand Ambassador for Grand Marnier. The bar menu features all the classic cocktails as well as Tigerlily's own brand concoction - vodka, whisky, rose wine, apricot liqueur and soda. Five house wines, by the glass, are priced at around a very reasonable £5 for 250ml. A menu of bar snacks is a great idea - bruschetta, sushi, salads and in season, you can also order a platter of lobster, gambas and oysters. This is a sophisticated bar with sheer class.
Contact Tigerlily Web site for current menu and prices.
Tigerlily is at 125 George Street, Edinburgh. To book online and for further information, see the Tigerlily Web site or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Or telephone (0)131 225 5005 or Fax (0)131 225 7046.
When going out for a meal these days, you might not usually be concerned about the décor - you are there to eat and chat. Tigerlily is different. This is a destination restaurant where the mood, style and atmosphere are as exciting as the food. The setting is pure theatre - glamorously operatic - but it also offers a comfortable, practical space to eat and drink, whatever time of day, whatever your appetite. I love exploring all the rooms - intimate tables for romantic dining, large party tables and hideaway lounge areas. You'll experience exemplary cooking, simply good food prepared with passion where freshness and flavour shine through. This is not just food, this is Tigerlily food!
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