“Classy and understated Scottish steak and seafood house: A hidden gem on Rose Street!”
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the Wild Fire on Rose Street in Edinburgh, Scotland. This was my third time in Edinburgh, and my visit to this restaurant left me wondering how I could have never found it before. The last two times I visited the city, I had been on academic business, and I had quickly grown fond of several different restaurants and pubs in many of Edinburgh's vibrant areas (i.e. the Grassmarket, on George Street, on the Royal Mile, etc.).
I'd like to think that stumbling across Rose Street and the Wild Fire was the result of a series of fortunate circumstances. Two friends of mine from Canada had come to visit me in Oxford, where I currently live and study. We decided to spend part of their time in the UK visiting Scotland. One of their friends (also from Canada but now living in St. Andrew's) came to join us on the Tuesday of our trip (our last night). While the girls decided to spend most of their day shopping, the new addition to our group and I decided to have a wander and ended up on Rose Street. After a couple of carefully placed inquiries, we found ourselves in an authentic scotch bar. The bar man (who had proven his taste in beverage and food) recommended Wild Fire to us, and the rest is history.
We returned to our accommodation and met with our lady friends, discussing with them the recommendations that had been made to us. We set out towards Wild Fire, and enjoyed a lovely walk down Rose Street on the way. When we arrived, the restaurant was busy but not entirely full. One table had (conveniently) just been vacated, and it was cleared and set for us in an expedient manner. We were then greeted by Nick, who would be our waiter for the night. Right off the bat I sensed that he was going to be master of his craft, and he didn't disappoint.
Nick was extremely patient as we made our way through ordering our starters and first round of drinks. At no point did he make us feel pressured or rushed. He also exhibited superb product knowledge by recommending us a delicious bottle of wine that was exactly what we were looking for (both in terms of price and in terms of its matching with our main meals). When it came time to take the order for our mains, Nick was once again extremely patient in dealing with all of our inquiries. He was especially patient and thoughtful in dealing with our one friend, who was lactose intolerant.
The meals could not have been any more delicious. They were relatively affordable, even by starving graduate student standards. The two ladies ordered Tomato and Basil soups and loved every last drop. I maintain that the mussels I ordered were some of the most delicious I've ever had in my life (better even than those I've had in restaurants in Paris, New York, etc.). My steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare (not always a given in the UK, no offense people) and seasoned just perfectly. Each and every one of us loved our meals so much that there legitimately was no space left for desert, which was a shame, because the Orange and Grand Marnier creme brulee was just calling my name. Not to worry, Nick recommended an after-dinner spirit called Kummel to me, which I likened to Sambuca, just without the same harshness on the palate and a lovely mint aftertaste. It was a perfect way to end off the meal and was, again, one of the many excellent recommendations Nick made throughout the course of the meal.
Some of you may wonder what qualifies me to speak relatively authoritatively about the service I received at this restaurant and the quality of food I consumed. Although I am a young PhD student and can't purport to having the levels of dining experience that some seasoned travelers and diners may have, I'd like to consider myself wise beyond my years when it comes to my knowledge of fine food and beverage. Before moving to the UK, I worked in a mid to upper level corporate steakhouse in Canada for six years. Product knowledge standards and professional expectations of waiters were both quite high. During this time I came across several people who could do the job very well, and some who just didn't have it in them.
Nick definitely falls into the former category. He was knowledgeable about each of the restaurant's menus and various products (spirits, wines, food, the whole lot). He made strong recommendations whilst leaving flexibility for us to decide in accordance with our own personal tastes (which anyone who has spent time in the industry will know is a delicate art). He was patient with us from beginning to end. At no point did he make us feel like we were putting him out or holding him up (either when we first arrived and it was quite clear that he was serving several other tables, nor at the end of the night when we were the last people in the restaurant). I can definitively say that Nick's service is the best that I've received in the time that I've been in the UK, and easily is in the top 3 that I've received worldwide.
Some of you may also wonder why I've chosen to take the time to write a relatively extensive review of this restaurant, when I could have come home from vacation and it could have easily gotten lost in the hustle and bustle of every day life. Again, without meaning any offense, I have often noted a marked difference in the restaurant and service culture in the UK in comparison with North America and continental Europe. That being said, on the rare occasions when exquisite service and delicious food totally surprise me, I'm not too proud to give credit where credit is due!
Nick, thank you again to you and the rest of the team at Wild Fire for what we all genuinely agreed was one of the highlights of our trip. You can definitely expect for me to be paying you all a visit again some time soon next time I'm in Edinburgh!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.