I decided to finally try out Centotre in George Street after walking past it for many years – it’s just never drawn me in before. I had read mixed reviews before I went, but went in with an open mind. I was actually in town the day before I ate there so made my reservation in person and the staff were very friendly.
Centotre occupies a former bank and does have a rather grand entrance and interior. It’s between Castle and Frederick Street at number 103.
As you can see from the picture it was light when we ate dinner, so the full effect of the design was not apparent, but I can imagine it’s rather nice when it’s dark outside.
We were shown to our table of 2, right beside an open window which I had to request to be shut due to the draught it was causing.
We were warmly welcomed, but because the menu is pretty lengthy, we required more than a millisecond as to what we wanted. We asked for another few minutes, but in that time, another waitress came to ask if we were ready. This turned out to be the theme of the evening, a new waiter / waitress every 5 minutes.
We placed our drinks order, a nice glass of red wine at £4.75 for 125ml and took in the nice surroundings of the restaurant including the soothing jazz coming through the speakers. I was a little disappointed in the thin paper table cloths which kind of ruined the whole ‘upmarket dining’ theme.
Our starters were served by another different member of staff.
For starter, my dining partner had the Calamari E Finnocchio (£7.95) which was pan fried fresh quid with chilli and garlic with garlic bruschetta. The verdict was that the calamari was delicious with the right amount of kick to it, but as you can see, the bruschetta was burnt and not of the best quality in taste.
I had the Polpettini at £5.95 which was meatballs with sultanas and pine kernels in tomato sugo. Again, I was disappointed with the bread as it was neither fresh or toasted, kind of in between and rather dry, although the idea was to dip it into the sauce, which was a little too strong for me. The meatballs were good, but nothing spectacular.
As our plates were finished and on the table, yet another different member of staff came over and asked us if we wanted to see the dessert menu ! The inconsistency in the service was very off putting. I explained that we had yet to have our mains and he apologised.
All the waiters and waitresses were polite, there just didn’t seem to be any kind of team work going on and good service. Somewhere run by the Montpeliers group i.e Tiger Lily or Ricks, you can be guaranteed good service as they are all trained to a certain standard.
I also had to ask 3 times for a refill for my water which was such a small glass anyway, why they don’t provide I jug with a meal I don’t know.
My dining partner had the Cozze as a main at £10.95 which was a large pot of Shetland mussels, with garlic, parsley, white wine and chilli, again served with garlic bruschetta. This time the bread wasn’t burnt.
It was a generous portion of mussels and the verdict was good, but was ‘not a patch on The Mussel Inn’s or La Petit Folie’s mussels’. I am allergic to shellfish so couldn’t try them.
I had the Miale Al Forno at £13.95 which was roasted borders pork served with a fresh beetroot and new potato salad. I had to move the salad to take this picture, the presentation of the plate (by yet again another waiter) hid the pork away. It was flavoursome, but not so tender that my knife glided through it. The salad was tossed in a lovely dressing and a very generous portion.
For dessert, we kind of shared them as we couldn’t decide between a couple and didn’t want to miss out on the other ! Dessert number one was the meringue with fresh whipped cream, ice cream and hot chocolate sauce and as you can imagine it was as good as it sounds and looks ! It was priced at £5.95
Dessert number two was fresh rhubarb crumble at £5.50 which was sized in a ramekin dish and a side of fresh cream. I felt the portion size was a little small, but the quality was exceptional.
Overall, I was not impressed with the service at Centotre, although we did get a resounding ‘goodbye’ from one of the many waiters who served us who asked us to call again. The desserts were the highlight, but nothing I can’t get elsewhere at a more reasonable cost. At these prices, for a mixed quality, I will not be back and that was also the verdict of my dining partner.
We had a table that was suitable for two people with dishes, plates and glasses, but I noticed as the restaurant got busier, they were also sitting down four people to the same size table as us and there just wouldn’t be the room to be comfortable.
Thankfully, I used the List Card on this occasion which made it a little easier on the wallet – but for those prices, I would rather have a guaranteed good meal at neighbouring Tiger Lily’s or The Living Room. I know the service is good there
Suitable for disabled ? Yes, they have bathrooms on the ground floor
*UPDATED, October 2009*
In addition to the above review, I would like to report that I have been back to Centotre since (friend’s birthday meal there for party of 8, their choice of venue) and although the food was reasonable, again the service was mediocre. At Edinburgh Spotlight, we eat in a restaurant at first, no cameras or notes to get a general feel for the place and the food. It’s only when we return a second time, do we review and take photos. This is so that we get an ‘average’ of our two experiences of eating there. Also, if questioned by staff on why we are taking photos of every dish, we don’t receive ‘good service’ just because we are perhaps reviewing.
I have perhaps been extremely unlucky with Centotre with my three visits there as friends continue to rave about the place, but I have not found it as good as it’s sister restaurant Zanzero which is awaiting it’s second visit.