It may be located in Scotland's capital city, but the food served in the restaurant of Edinburgh's new townhouse hotel - the Bonham, which opened in the city's Central West End district in May 1998 - has a distinctly US flavour.
Or, to be more precise, a Californian flavour. That's because the 60-seat eaterie's head chef has spent some time working on the US West Coast. "Californian cuisine is influenced by both European and Latin cooking. It isn't all about hamburgers and fries," asserts head chef Pelham Hill. "But it is about fun food - experimenting with stimulating colours and flavours, textures and colours - bringing together diverse ingredients and making them work."
The Bonham is the third in a small chain of hotels owned by the Town House Company. Both Hill and his sous chef had previously worked at the sister restaurant, 36, at Edinburgh's Haward, and felt they wanted the food at the Bonham to be distinctly different from the other restaurants in the group.
Accordingly, on the Restaurant at the Bonham's set-price lunch menu (£9.50 two courses, £11.50 three courses) and its à la carte evening menu diners will find dishes containing tortilla, chorizo and guacamole sitting alongside navarins of lamb, asparagus and duck. Traditional US ingredients such as sweet potato and pecans can also be spotted.
Among the six starters on the evening menu, diners might choose a roasted asparagus and sun-dried tomato tartlet served with hollandaise; or courgette Gruyäre beignets with beetroot confit (both £4).
Guests, who range in age and are drawn from both the residential and corporate areas surrounding the hotel, have a choice of seven and six dishes on the à la carte menu's main and dessert sections respectively.
Grilled skate wings with black olive butter and mango couscous (£11.50) could be one of their main choices in the evening, while Cajun-spiced chicken burger with caper mayonnaise and fries (£6) at lunch offers another twist on a US tradition.
Another customer favourite is Hill's signature dessert of white chocolate and amaretto cräme brñlée with macaroons (£4). This is available on both lunch and evening menus and is served to customers in the 70-cover (lunch and dinner) restaurant by a front of house team of five full-time and 10 part-time staff headed by restaurant manager Jodie Hannan.
Hill is helped by a brigade of five chefs to produce the dishes on his seasonally changing menu which is currently drawing an average spend per head of between £20 and £25 (inclusive of wine) from its visitors.
It is clear that his policy of "encouraging diners to ask questions and make suggestions and, above all, be a little experimental" appeals to the citizens of Edinburgh.
The Restaurant at the Bonham, 35 Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh EH3 7RN. Tel: 0131-226 6050
- Pan-fried salmon and spring onion sausages with shallot risotto, £4.50
- Little pork and coriander patties with red onion marmalade and apricots, £4
- Home-smoked venison salad with rosemary oil, red chard and balsamic reduction, £5
- Oven-baked duck breast, caraway crust, warm salsa and fondant potatoes, £13
- Baked sea bream with fennel, lime and cucumber relish, £12
- Marinated grilled chicken with egg-fried noodles, £10
- Chocolate and cherry marquise, £4.25
- White chocolate and strawberry mousse, with coconut coulis, £4.50
- Raspberry Champagne jelly, £4.50