By Cheryl Caira
Up there architecturally as one of the New Town’s most striking buildings, with its Graeco-Roman portico (the frontage was inspired by William Playfair’s imposing design for Surgeons’ Hall), The Dome is classic Edinburgh, particularly if you want your celebratory drinks and dining gilded with grandeur. Originally the home of Scotland’s Commercial Bank, the building’s former telling hall (a famously hot ticket at Christmastime) is a dramatic statement in domed glass, palms and mosaicked marble.
It would be easy to wander mesmerised into the main bar and stay there for the duration, but you’d be missing a trick by not taking a detour into the Club Room, a tranquil-feeling space with art-deco vibes, opulent chandeliers, Chinese-inspired wall coverings and 1920s-style booths.
The Dome may be undeniably classic, but the Club Room’s menu was recently switched up into something of a contemporary-feeling treat. A diverse offering of Scottish small plates has proven to be a success: not always an easy feat when you’re working with typically hearty-leaning fare. Traditional Scottish fare is served with inventive panache, split between ‘land’, ‘sea’ and ‘nibbles’ – although I’d say the nibbles come under the category of sizeable.
Like any venture into Scotland’s highlights, you get the best of both worlds trying out both land and sea. Buttery brown shrimps arrive with a creamy duck egg as their partner in crime, which feels decadent, and works well. Back on shore, a stripped-back Cock-a-Leekie awaits, free of most of the normal trimmings and with three chicken tortellinis poised elegantly in a delicious broth.
I should at this point mention that The Dome shakes up a mean cocktail, if you haven’t previously partaken in one – strong on the quality spirits and expertly concocted. It’s nice to be given two options for your Old Fashioned, whether you want the Lagavulin’s smokey edge teamed with cinnamon syrup and orange bitters, or something more smooth and sweet with the Auchentoshan. Fruity spritzes are also a feature if you fancy something longer.
Haggis bon bons… a delicacy of sorts most Scots are familiar with, but have you ever tried a wee morsel with pineapple chutney? When tangy meets spiced oats, with just the right crispy texture, it definitely becomes a must-try nibble for meat-eaters. A garlic-infused broccoli and shallots dish, drizzled with Mull Cheddar, sits alongside other appealing veggie dishes, including a salt-baked, truffled celeriac and a crispy leek and mushroom roll teamed with apple and the winning combo of celery and seaweed.
I’m lucky that I’m with two people with a sweet tooth, so I can dip into their carefully deliberated-over selections, even if I am feeling a tad on the full side. We decide it would be rude not to go for the namesake dessert – a giant profiterole decked in chocolate sauce and vanilla cream, a veritable dome of lightly iced and puffed pastry. The treacle tart is a generously layered helping that will hit the spot for anyone wanting that syrupy fix, with the sourness of some accompanying crème fraîche taking the edge off, in a good way. A please-most tastes meal in a lovely setting, you’ll either want to stay for another spot-on cocktail – or pop in again to change up your choices and expand your Scottish small plates repertoire.