REVIEW: Room with a view at Redcoat Cafe

The salmon en croute offering.
The salmon en croute offering.

Review: Redcoat Cafe, Edinburgh Castle

It can’t lay claim to being the highest eating place in Scotland – that honour belongs to the Old Ptarmigan in the Cairngorms – but the views from Edinburgh’s highest cafe take some beating.

Much like Londoners who don’t think to visit Buckingham Palace, I’ve only ever been to Edinburgh Castle once, many, many years ago and might never have gone again but for the fact that castles became a primary school topic this term.

So we trooped along on Sunday and I must admit, the tourists are right to go – it really is a fantastic day out.

But what about the eating options?

There are only two – there’s the tearoom right at the top which serves fabulous-looking cakes and fancier meals; too fancy in fact for young kids.

Then there’s the Redcoat cafe, which aims to serve a wide variety of ages and pockets.

Perched right on the edge of volcanic rock, the cafe’s floor-to-ceiling windows afford stunning views over Edinburgh’s New Town and on a clear day it’s possible to catch a clear sight as far afield as Mossmorran.

The layout inside is tasteful, modern and functional and on the day we visited, almost empty.

There’s the usual kids’ pick-a-mix box – five items for £4.95 which includes the ubiquitous packets of Pom Bear crisps, cheese roll, yoghurt, etc.

Don’t know about other parents, but it always galls me to think a 20p pack of crisps has been marked up 500 per cent but, hey, everybody does it.

So how does the adult fare compare? In terms of hot options they had an impressive array of soups, but I opted for salmon en croute while the other half had the chicken pie (both £9.50).

We had a choice of three sides – roast potatoes, broccoli with a breadcrumb-like topping and roast vegetables.

But we discovered the menu price only allows you one; if you want another, you pay extra. Why on earth don’t they just offer two sides of smaller sizes?

The other problem I found was that by the time I waited in the queue at the tills, my broccoli was getting cold – and that was on an extremely quiet day, which begs the question, how do they manage in high season?

On a more positive note, my salmon fillet, layered with spinach and lemongrass, was filling, tasty and satisfying.

The chicken pie was a hit too – just the right amount of pastry, with succulent chicken chunks in a creamy but slightly spicy gravy.

A large selection of cakes, including a very good millionaires’ shortcake, are on offer for those with a sweet tooth.

Expect the bill for a family of four to be at least £30 which, on top of entrance fees and travel, brings a day out at Edinburgh Castle to nearly £100.

If you buy Historic Scotland’s annual membership, however, at £7 a month direct debit, it’s free entry – a more palatable option.