SMWS Queen Street exterior
Date night….it doesn’t happen very often so when it does you’ve got to make the most of it… Both partial to a tasting menu (with accompanying drinks natch) we checked out The Dining Room 28 Queen Street which is part of the Edinburgh Scotch Malt Whisky Society whose home is a stunning Georgian townhouse. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a ‘members only’ affair as the Society has happily flung open its doors far and wide so that anyone can rock up and enjoy what’s on offer. Even us! Since the recent refurb they’ve tucked the members bar on the top floor of the Society but there’s a lovely new bar downstairs and a dining room on the first floor that we were welcomed to discover.

Tasting menu ordered now the only decision we had to make was whether to match our food with whisky or wine. Tough one. I love that whisky matches brilliantly with food, it’s complexities mean it can be matched with literally anything. Having said that I  personally can’t contemplate drinking 5 or 6 cask strength whiskies in one evening. Potential for head spin the following day!  That being the case we wimped out and took a wee dram with our ‘bites’ and a full dram with dessert.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society may not immediately be on your radar for a dinner date but we hope that this might change your mind. Since relocating to the first floor The Dining Room has a lovely light airy feel about it and feels rather ‘grown up’ but in a good way. Service was polite and efficient with the exception of missing out on some bread which wasn’t offered until after the starters and only when we asked. This didn’t bother me too much but Mr M likes to carb-load upfront so when it did arrive he scoffed 4 slices at once.

Aside from the bread incident the whole evening went swimmingly and the service was great. Our charming French waiter chose some great wines to go with our food and the menu went a little bit like this….

The dining room 28 queen street

Head chef James Freeman has put a great menu together. It’s very well balanced and felt ‘clean’ – funny description perhaps but what I mean is it didn’t feel overly rich which, for me, a lot of ‘fine dining’ tasting menus can feel like. Yes it was belt loosening stuff after 5 courses (well, actually 7 if you include the wee snack and the pre dessert palate cleanser…)  but I was still able to stand up and walk down the stairs afterwards. And that’s a result in my book.

The highlight for me was the grilled North sole and poached oyster, unbelievably tasty, and matched with a Saint Veran, Domaine de la Coix Senaillet a great chardonnay (YES a chardonnay!) that wafts citrus and mineral aromas from the glass. Perfect. Mr M thoroughly enjoyed the pheasant breast stuffed with foie gras and mopped up all juices with yet more bread. He was happy.

We sampled a great cask strength whisky with dessert entitlted ‘ Conversations with my son‘, a 25 year old lowland whisky which matched perfectly with our Gingerbead spice creme brulee. This is what the society have to say about it:


Plenty to talk about when you’re enjoying this dram. The nose offered rich aromas of dark chocolates, orange, furniture polish, hay and a lemon slice pastry. To taste it was vibrant and creamy – old fashioned lemonade, spices (anise, cloves) and an old-style thick pastry apple pie. It took water well with aromas turning to marzipan, honey on brown toast, nutmeg and salted caramel. The flavours then offered vanilla and spicy sweetness with hazelnuts, treacle tart and fig pudding. A noble dram to share with those that matter most to you.

For conversation with those that matter most..

Ha ha, must remember that when trying to talk some sense into Mini monkfish….

So, all in all we really enjoyed The Dining Room 28 Queen Street. Top of the list for us was to be able to have a conversation and hear each other speak. Gawd, are we getting old….. So that box was ticked with a great big tick. Next on the list was to be served some great food and not have to choose from the menu. I don’t know if you’re like me but sometimes I just want someone ‘to bring the food to me’ and not have to choose anything. So, bring it they did. It was a pleasure to have some great wines and whiskies matched to the dishes and finally the ability to actually stand up and walk home and not feel too full completed our experience. Job done then by The Dining  Room.

For more details and to read more about The Dining Room 28 Queen Street and the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in general then visit the website HERE.

SMWS Dining Room 2


The important stuff…

The Dining Room
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society
28 Queen Street
Edinburgh EH2 1JX

Tel: 0131 220 2044
Mon 12-2.30pm,
Tue-Sat 12-2.30pm & 5-9.30pm

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