With a name like the Witchery, Edinburgh's finest restaurant could be expected to capitalize on ghoulish camp. Instead, it oozes romance. Sure, the 16th century building, near Edinburgh Castle, has a macabre history: hundreds of suspected witches were burned at the stake here in the 1600s. But their spirits have been exorcized and now the most haunting thing about the place is its gothic elegance.
Lit exclusively by candlelight, the tapestry-draped main dining room is an ode to opulence: the seats are a rich red leather, the ceiling is gilded, and the walls are covered with oak panels salvaged from an old cathedral. The Secret Garden annex, meanwhile, is full of brass candlesticks and stone statues, and displays a series of painted doors that tell the story of Edinburgh's wine trade with France.
The menu is equally sumptuous, offering dishes such as melt-in-your-mouth steak tartare, rabbit wrapped in Parma ham with tea-soaked prunes, and loin of roe deer with an earthy black pudding. But be sure to save room for the desserts from the chocolate torte to the bramble, sherry and mascarpone trifle, they make a wickedly decadent end to the meal.
The Witchery also has seven luxurious suites stuffed with antiques, draped beds and claw-footed baths made for two. Author Dan Brown, who set part of The Da Vinci Code at the nearby Rosslyn Chapel, was so enchanted with his stay a few years ago that he scribbled his signature on a floorboard under a rug in the Armoury suite, then left a cryptic clue leading to it in the guest book. The puzzle has long been solved, but it's a fitting tribute to the Witchery's mysterious charms. www.thewitchery.com
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