Calistoga is a Californian restaurant tucked away in a cobbled alleyway behind Rose Street in the center of Edinburgh. This restaurant does not pick up much passing trade, but word of mouth has ensured that it has thrived in this less-than-optimum location, nevertheless.
From the outside, the restaurant has the appearance of a bonded warehouse with rich red brick and square windows framed in black paint. Inside, the décor is simple and modern. Fresh lemon walls complement black leather chairs and smooth dark wooden tables.
Calistoga Restaurant's interior — Photo courtesy of Calistoga Restaurant
The menu is a fusion of Californian cuisine with top-quality Scottish ingredients. Perfectly cut steaks sit comfortably alongside fragrant risottos, crispy crostini, rich ragout and succulent bean stews.
The grill menu is particularly satisfying. First, you pick the type of meat or fish from a wide selection and then choose your sauce and side dish of fries, sweet potatoes, parsnip croquettes or rice.
Sunday lunch is another triumph. The meal starts with a collection of sharing platters featuring cold meats, cheeses and dips with homemade breadsticks, followed by hearty steaks and roasts (with a delicious frittata as a tempting vegetarian option) with chunky chips, spiced rice and sweet potato fries on the side.
The meal is accompanied by a complementary tasting of two exclusive Californian wines and finished with a selection of hand-made desserts and tea or coffee.
It is not for nothing that Calistoga Restaurant was granted the title of “Specialty Restaurant of the Year” in the Scottish Restaurant Awards. However, the real star of the show is the incredibly wide range of Californian wines on offer.
The Napa Valley Taster Menu is the perfect choice for wine lovers. It features five courses of delectable taster dishes - each with a glass of Californian wine carefully chosen to perfectly complement the dish - so you will want to take your time and savor every moment.
The main dining room seats up to 50 people, but they also have three smaller private dining areas. The Napa and Sonoma suites each seat 18 people and can be combined to offer private dining for larger parties. There is also the smaller Newton suite, where up to 12 people can enjoy a meal and access to an adjoining private lounge.
The restaurant also holds regular wine tasting sessions. Parties numbering between one to 50 people can enjoy a private but wonderfully informal wine tasting in one of the dedicated tasting rooms before relaxing over a three-course meal.
There are a number of options available, but why not opt for the most luxurious in the form of the Presidential Tasting? This is a 70-minute tutored tasting featuring six fine wines and canapés followed by three courses of irresistible culinary treats.