Since this review was written, the hotel has changed ownership, with the result that what is said here may no longer be current. We hope to be able to update the review in the near future. The heart of the dining experience at The Principal Edinburgh George Street can be found in the Tempus Restaurant and Bar, towards the western end of the building. This comes with its own entrance from George Street (as well as access from the rest of the hotel), and it seems quite likely that many people simply pop in for a meal or a drink without realising that Tempus is actually part of the hotel. This says a lot for the ambience and the quality of what is on offer here. You can read our hotel review for The Principal Edinburgh George Street here.
It is worth noting for the sake of completeness that the hotel also has 24 hour room service; and those thinking of holding a function, event or wedding here will be reassured to hear that the George prides itself on delivering restaurant quality food in the conference and event suites.
The Tempus Bar is open throughout the day, and light snacks, tea, coffee and lunch are available from 11am. The lounge menu available in the bar covers a wide range of options. "Small dishes" include "soup beautiful soup and fresh bread" and "eggs Benedict". You can also order from the salad menu or the sandwich menu. The range of "larger dishes" on offer (showing how helpfully literal the menu is), included a fair degree of overlap with the restaurant dinner menu. There is certainly no shortage of choice, and that is before you come to afternoon tea with a choice of sandwiches plus a scone, macaroons, a tart, and ice cream.
The Tempus Restaurant is open for dinner every evening. The restaurant occupies what was once one of the hotel's fine function rooms and is an elegant and comfortable place with striking artworks and a slightly Parisian feel. Yet it succeeds in being at the same time both friendly and unpretentious.
The restaurant menu helpfully offers "Tempus Begins", "Tempus Continues" and "Tempus Finale" sections. Of the ten starters, the "Loch Fyne citrus and pepper smoked salmon, potato blinis and horseradish cream" was simply sublime. The "rope grown mussels, white wine, shallot and parsley cream" was lovely and came in a generously sized portion. For our mains we ignored the nine items on the "continues" menu and instead chose from the additional five on the grill menu. This brought to our table an 8oz Crombie beef burger and all the trimmings, and a 28 day aged Ballindalloch sirloin steak with real chips. Both were great, and both were generous in size.
It's worth noting that three of our four choices in the first two courses used main ingredients from named Scottish suppliers. This is a nice touch that adds significantly to the experience of a meal, and it was particularly good to be able to try Ballindalloch beef, from the Ballindalloch Castle herd on Speyside. The "finale" menu offered a choice between seven sweets and a selection of (named, described and largely Scottish) cheeses. Despite mouth watering options ranging from "Luca's churned ice cream and shortbread rounds" to a sharing "chocolate fondue with summer fruits", we had to concede defeat on the basis of what we had already eaten.
Breakfast is also served in Tempus. You are served tea, coffee and toast at your table, and then have a choice of starter and main courses from cold and hot buffets. We have to admit to a prejudice against hot buffet breakfasts, on the grounds that they are so very easy to get wrong. It was a real pleasure to find that at the George Hotel both cold and hot buffets worked very well indeed. Considerable effort was put by the staff into ensuring they were freshly and fully stocked and tidy, and as a result we enjoyed excellent breakfasts. As well as everything you might expect from the buffets, it was also possible to order other options freshly cooked from the kitchen, from kippers to eggs royale, or a rib-eye steak. You can read our hotel review for The Principal Edinburgh George Street here.