After 18 months of solid planning, The Printing Press Bar & Kitchen (formerly Tempus) is due to open on George Street on 22 October. We were of the few lucky enough to be selected to experience their menu for ourselves at a private tasting session earlier this month, and it was certainly a feast for both the eyes and the tastebuds…
On entering The Printing Press, you’re instantly transported to another era. I felt I should have been sashaying in in a sequinned 1920s flapper dress and sparkly hair piece, rather than the casual black skater dress I’d worn that evening. Under-dressed feelings aside, the whole softly lit restaurant and bar area screamed Great Gatsby. Even more so when we perched at the white marble bar whilst an impeccably dressed barman poured us champagne cocktails. By now, we were all a little more intrigued by what was to come.
The whole softly lit restaurant and bar area screamed Great Gatsby.
After the round of welcome cocktails, we were ushered into the restaurant area to begin a guided tour of the new venue by founder Des McDonald – the former head chef at The Ivy, London, and the founder of cult London restaurant group Vintage Salt. Des explained his inspiration for The Printing Press and the story behind its name. In prior times, the George Street building, with its ornate listed ceilings, was home to William Oliphant’s publishing company, and Des was keen to retain this historic significance in his new project, with black typewriters lined up on shelves.
Through to the kitchen, where we were struck by the passion for the dishes created in there, with top class suppliers ranging from Buccleuch Beef, Heather Hills Farm and Loch Duart. Unfortunately on the occasion we visited, head chef Colin Fleming – who used to work under the likes of Martin Wishart and Nick Nairn – was on leave, but the rest of the kitchen staff were on hand to whip up some tasty dishes for us.
After Des ended his tour, we were shown to our seats in the grand main restaurant area where the evening really began. A quirky pre-starter of pumpkin soup (served in a glass bottle with a straw, no less!) and ham hock was served, and a Loch Fyne diver scallop on inked barley formed the follow-on starter. The scallop was so fresh that it almost felt as if we’d picked it out of the sea ourselves (leave that one to the experts though, eh?). For our mains, we were first presented with wood pigeon, hazelnut crowdie and Heritage beets; a lovely wee dish, with wonderfully cooked beets. Sea bass, foraged sea herbs and mussels then followed, with the most amazing sauce and a dish we’ll definitely be re-visiting… The ultimate favourite, however? Josper grilled venison, braised red cabbage and brambles. Oh my! This one was beautifully tender and melt in your mouth, with the sweetness of the brambles making it even more tasty. To finish, we were served cranberry and blossom honey burnt cream; a crème brûlée dish with the perfect amount of sweetness but not too heavy.
In essence, all the dishes have been created using specially sourced Scottish ingredients to make the most of the amazing natural larder Scotland has at its disposal, within a venue worthy of a second (or third… or fourth…) look. We’ll most certainly be back in time for opening, perhaps in a sparklier outfit, and urge you to book your table now whilst you still can.
The Printing Press Bar & Kitchen
21-5 George St
Best for: dining with a Gatsby twist