Why on earth is there so much tartan? That’s basically the first thought I have upon arriving at Boisdale, red walls, mounted stags and an awful lot of tartan. Things become clearer when I realise this is a Scottish-themed restaurant. I didn’t realise Scottish food could be applied as a theme – I mean there’s haggis, and well that’s about it right. Whisky, husband reminds me, with his patented ‘Oh dear, why am I explaining the obvious’ look on his face, how could you forget whisky he says. Well, I don’t really drink whiskey so I think I can be forgiven.
Then there’s the jazz, now surely that isn’t Scottish. And cigars. Right, well I don’t know where they’re from, but I’m going to go with Cuba. Hell, they’re even called Havana cigars.
Aside from all the tartan, initial impressions are not good. They’ve lost our reservation and don’t believe me when I say I have one – necessitating pulling out the email confirmation. Not daunted, they still say they’re fully booked and are starting to hint at us finding somewhere else, but this is deepest darkest Victoria/Westminster, a plethora of restaurants there are not and I am certainly not about to give up to hunt the streets.
Instead, we have a drink at the bar while we wait for a table. We’re then shown to one. Oh but it’s not ours, so we’re asked to vacate it and we go back to standing by the bar. I don’t know about you, but I’d be feeling a lot less cranky if there’d been an apology or a complimentary drink while we waited.
Finally we’re shown through and peruse the menu.
The boys kick things off with a mini haggis for starters, complete with mash and neeps, which even has the option of a noggin of whisky as a chaser, which it seems is an absolute no-brainer of an option. Even Husband, who i suspect doesn’t really know what is in Haggis (let’s not tell him that now) fell just one step short of licking his plate clean, but that may have been the influence of the whisky.
I opt for the potted smoked mackerel with horseradish and toast. This isn’t nearly as pungent and fishy as I’d like, it’s tasty but far too mellow to be doing justice to the strong tastes of mackerel and horseradish in one pairing.
We’ve all ordered the exact same thing for a main, which usually is something I’m dead set against, but the lure of the saddleback pork with curly kale and black pudding hash is too much to resist, and so we tuck in.
The tools aren’t really adequate for the job, the meat is tender to taste, but far too hard to saw through which is making it seem all a bit too hard to plough through. The hash & kale are a little salty for my taste personally but the staff keep us plenty replenished with water, which they realise we are downing like those in the dessert.
By the time we’re about halfway through our mains, the lively jazz band kicks in and while we cannot see them from our position in the annexe, they’re an atmospheric addition to the place. There are advantages to not being able to see them and that is that we can continue to talk without being deafened as those in the main restaurant would probably struggle with.
So as to enjoy the music, we opt to share a cheeseboard and the boys mull over the other option to end the meal; Havana cigars.
We’re plated up an immense portion of various cheeses so we can all share and nibbling on cheese & crackers, the tang of whisky in the air and the jazz band music filtering through to us are a great way to end the night.
However, as to the package as a whole, I remain unconvinced. Our waitress was lovely, attentive & sweet, however the front of house staff were a bit off-putting, the food was delicious but needed that little extra something to push it into divine.