Centotre Restaurant Edinburgh Dining Review, George Street eating out

Centotre Edinburgh Restaurant

Edinburgh Italian Restaurant, Scotland Capital City Dining Review

Centotre opened in 2004 at 103 George Street. Centotre is Italian for 103.

Owned by Victor and Carina Contini

Phone: 0131 225 1550

George Street restaurant

Centotre Restaurant Edinburgh Review

Our Centotre Restaurant Review, late 2007:

We were in luck. One of four tables in the front windows towards George Street was free: these cannot be reserved and, we were told, are very popular.

They discretely look onto George Street, but also inwards to the imposing bar central to the large former banking hall space. This has been partly restored back to its former glory and partly modernised.

A waitress arrived and gave us the menus and took our jackets. The menus were at first confusing and anyone, including myself, with no real knowledge of the Italian language would have a considerable handicap.

However, Adrian once had an Italian girlfriend so he knew enough to get us through, and also helped the pronunciation when ordering! We ordered a glass of Pinot Grigio (white wine) each while we were getting to grips with the menu.

I momentarily thought my partner Adrian was ill but soon realised his greenish palour was cast by the central chandelier over the bar. Centotre should consider a white spotlight over each table to counteract the chandelier or the chandeleier colour needs changing to a white-based light.

It was a Saturday night and the place had a real buzz about it. Centotre’s layout is refreshingly different to many restaurants where all you get is a room with lots of tables and chairs. Between the window tables and the island dispense bar is a traditional Italian bartop set up for dinner, but used mostly for drinks prior to people being invited to their tables. This bar-top is split into two for access to the window tables and axial to the symmetrical bar. The towering Centotre dispense bar itself is very solid, a world away from say Monboddo’s glassy bar at the Point Hotel.

For starters Adrian had a traditional southern Italian pasta dish and I had Carbonara. The service was friendly, efficient and in the right frequency range, ie not too many ‘is everything ok?’s which can get tiresome when deep in conversation! There were plenty of staff on the floor (post-festival, they said their quietest Friday for months) giving assurance through their presence and occasional checks on diners.

The food at Centotre is not your typical pizza/pasta Italian restaurant fare but more indigenous, closely related to the family’s origins. It is not overly fancy yet not perfunctory, for example the ice cream is made on the premises and used as a base for a dessert rather than being a choice in itself.

Our starters arrived. The presentation was simple, embodying the house style of good quality Italian home cooking. Adrian’s simple pasta dish was quite perfumed, a creamy sauce with mushrooms. The dish had the same overpowering taste throughout which after a few bites became cloying. Adrian didn’t finish this dish. The ham in my Carbonara was a little on the salty side but as a dish it was fine if not stunning.

For our main courses Adrian ordered Veal and I ordered King Prawns in a cream sauce with steamed rice. The first bite was delicious, however I was soon disappointed to find that the whole meal tasted the same due to the overpowering sauce.

Adrian’s veal was of similar ilk. It came breadcrumbed flattened and filling the plate, with sliced and rosemary-encrusted roasted potatoes, offset by rocket salad. The meat was on the dry side and with the potatoes a little tasteless. The presentation was poor and Adrian felt it necessary to rearrange his rocket salad in order to make it look more inviting. Again Adrian didn’t finish the dish due to its dryness and heaviness.

For dessert we both went with recommendations by Centotre part-owner, Victor Contini. As before when our orders arrived we weren’t hugely impressed with the presentation. However, in this case both of us were delighted with our choices. Adrian’s dessert was both fruity and fluffy, looking like a cappuchino, with a slightly crisped topping which added favourably to the texture.

I was in no way disappointed with my dessert, it had both flavour and texture, and as a bonus a thin layer of iridescent green pistachio paste offsetting the marzipan base.

We felt well looked after, not only by the seemingly well-trained staff, but also by Victor who took time to come to each table and talk. This was a nice touch, and felt appropriate to a family-run Italian restaurant. He discussed the different desserts and wines, describing how and where they were made.

He recommended two dessert wines and brought them over to us.

Since our dinner at Centotre we’ve been told by those who frequent the establishment at lunch time that it’s a super place to either pop in for a quick snack, as their service again is good and the lunch menu light and tasty, or indeed just to hang out for a glass or two of the great Italian wines on offer.

In conclusion we struggled a little with both the food and interior of the restaurant, but felt Centotre’s excellent service, personal touch and strong wine list compensated.

Scottish Capital Restaurants

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George Street Restaurants

Zanzero Restaurant – another Italian restaurant in Edinburgh also for Victor & Carina Contini

Edinburgh Restaurant Reviews
Harvey Nichols Edinburgh
photograph © Adrian Welch

Edinburgh Restaurants

Have you dined at Centotre Restaurant in Edinburgh? Please mail us your review at info(at)edinburgharchitecture.co.uk

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