Before eating here I would never have believed that Midlothian had anything good to offer in terms of fine dining. The Howgate Restaurant & Bistro is located just off the A70 to Penicuik and it came as quite a delight to find out that a restaurant so classy was so close-to-home. My boyfriend and I wanted to celebrate our third year together with good food and a relaxing evening atmosphere to enjoy each others company. The Howgate definitely offered us that.
The restaurant itself is very cosy, what with its low ceilings and candlelit rooms, and the decoration is very classic, with leather chairs and dark walls in the lobby and dining area. The building has been converted from stabling for race-horses into this warm restaurant so the feel of the place is very traditional and rural, but don’t worry there is not a sniff of manure in the air. The smells are very enticing, and even as a vegetarian I found the smell of the cooked beef sublime.
The menu offers a variety of food, from traditional dishes to more modern ideas, and there is definitely something for everyone. Upon entering the restaurant we were greeted with friendly staff, who were not too intrusive or pally, but remained professional throughout our visit. We were given a main menu, and also a “Dishes of the Moment” menu, which had all the restaurant’s specialities and more popular dishes listed, giving a fussy person even more options.
There are two areas to the Howgate, the bar area, where we were seated, and the restaurant. Both offer a secluded personal feel, and although the restaurant seems to be more grand the bar is actually just as comfortable. I managed to fill myself with three courses and I literally fell straight asleep once I had returned home – full to the brim. Each course was divine, and the flavours of each dish were extremely pleasing.
For a starter I had grilled goat’s cheese crouton on a salad bed with cherry tomatoes. The creamy taste of the goat’s cheese contrasted with the crunch of the crouton made for a delicate but flavoursome course, and the salad had a lovely dressing, which complemented the cheese very well. For someone who is not a fan of pungent cheese I took a risk with this dish and it definitely paid off as it was truly delicious.
My main was a pan-fried duo of king prawn and sea-bass with asparagus, baby potatoes and a bed of rocket with saffron sauce. The prawns and fish were extremely well cooked and the sauce added a slight sweetness to the dish which was unexpected but very well received. The asparagus was slightly crunchy, and I prefer mine a little more done, but the rocket was pleasant and again worked nicely with the sauce.
Lastly, my desert, which was out of this world, it truly was special. I have never been a big sweet-tooth, but Howgate’s Nutella and white chocolate cheesecake with Luca’s Nutella ice cream was to die for. The consistency of the cake was perfect, with the stickiness being just right, and the flavour of the Nutella and white chocolate hitting your taste buds at different times. The crunch of the base was surreal, with the texture feeling almost like popping candy, but without the crackling. The ice-cream settled my tummy after the thickness of the cheesecake, leaving me with a huge smile on my face.
With the meal coming to just over £50 it is not a overly expensive night out, and one I am sure to repeat, so that I can try all the other tasty treats they have to offer. Very happy. Thanks a bunch.