The Raeburn Hotel languished lonely and unloved in Stockbridge for a number of years until it was re-opened earlier this year as simply The Raeburn. Offering boutique hotel rooms, a bar, restaurant and various terraces, a lot of money has clearly been spent on the place as we discovered recently when we went for Sunday brunch the day after a wedding. Eight of us plus Eric the dog were looking forward to a hearty breakfast and a look back at the previous day’s momentous events in the company of the bride and groom themselves. So did the Raeburn measure up enough for us to consider a long-term relationship?
We were booked into the restaurant for brunch on a Sunday morning but it was soon revealed that although dogs are welcome in the bar, the restaurant is off limits to furry friends so we decamped to a high table at the bar, which to be honest was in a buzzier part of the Raeburn and give us a great vantage point from which to see the monied residents of Stockbridge go about their weekend business. The bar was busy, as was the outside ground-floor terrace, although a flurry of rain soon saw a few refugees hurry inside. The first thing I noticed once we were seated was that there is an abundance of two things in The Raeburn: wood and staff. At any one time, there were around eight staff members at the bar, pouring drinks, grabbing trays or putting in orders. As for wood, from the floors to the tables, there is definitely a chunky timber vibe going on here.
But we were not here to admire the wood, we were here to sate our demanding, expanded bellies, which had been spoiled the night before at the Royal College of Physicians on Queen Street. We’d originally been given a breakfast menu in the restaurant before the arrival of Eric (still sporting his wedding finery) and I already had my eye on the full Scottish, at whatever price. And I had no idea of the price because despite the bottom of the menu stating that prices were inclusive of VAT, no actual costs were listed. Upon entering the bar, we received a lengthier menu which thankfully still included the full Scottish although according to our waiter the breakfasts in this room didn’t include tea or coffee, like in the restaurant. Confusing. Especially when paying later, they clearly did.
The confusion did not end there. Despite two of our party requesting that not a mushroom should be seen on their plates, when their breakfasts arrived those pesky fungi had managed to sneak on unnoticed by any kitchen or waiting staff. Mrs Bar Fly was also disappointed to receive the definite runt of the sausage litter, clearly at least a third smaller than others on display at the table. Furthermore, instead of bacon, she received a strip of uncrispy fat with the odd patch of edible meat. To add insult to injury, the meagre supply of toast supplied to the table had to be sent back after it arrived looking like it had been at the seat of the recent Glasgow School of Art fire.
My full Scottish breakfast (£9) was fine. They’d remembered to scramble the eggs and all the distinct parts of it were OK, with the haggis/black pudding particularly tasty. You don’t get a huge Teuchters-style portion here, and even the regular size sausages are not impressive. My bacon, although a bit more bacon-like than Mrs Bar Fly’s, was hardly a showstopper and again there wasn’t much of it. The partner of my acquaintance had the scrambled eggs and smoked salmon and true to form, the portion was erring on too small. There were also a couple of portions of chips for the table and although these were chunky and tasty, like the bacon, they could have been crispier.
Drinks wise, I stuck to the orange juice while a couple of the guys had very impressive looking Bloody Marys. They certainly had the wow factor and came in at £6.25 each. Pints in here are around the eye-watering £4.00 mark but I did notice they had two of my favourites on – Jarl and Ossian. There is an extensive bottled beer list as well as a decent cocktail menu as you would expect in a place like this. None of it is cheap but this is Stockbridge – Tom Kitchin’s Scran & Scallie is across the road so locals are used to paying good money down this way.
Looking to the positives, the staff at The Raeburn were extremely friendly and helpful and the place looks great. As you’d expect, the toilets are sparkling and offer fancy hand creams while the roof terraces will no doubt be popular on those beautiful sunny Edinburgh days we are occasionally blessed with. The view at the moment is of a bit of a building site and an unfinished, never-to-be-finished tennis arena on the rugby pitch but it’s pleasant enough. I also love the branding throughout the place – it’s very classy and makes me think they’ve monogrammed everything in my honour.
There’s no doubt that there is the potential to make good money here and the surroundings mean this will be popular no matter what. They’ll pick up their fair share of those who fail to book at Kitchin’s place across the road and the sheer size of this place will make it attractive to groups. However, I have to say that if you’re looking for the best breakfast in Edinburgh, it’s not here.