There’s an old saying - you should never judge a book by its cover.
Over the years I’ve learned sticking to this way of working has benefits in many ways, helping me be less pompous and critical of something on the outward appearance alone.
A few years ago I dined at a well-known eatery in Edinburgh’s Stockbridge, one of the posher areas of the capital, and due to its location was expecting something spectacular inside.
I was, however, left underwhelmed by the decor but, after a beautiful dinner, realised the restaurant’s reputation was for great food, not a swanky interior.
I can also relate the judge and cover idiom to the Dragon Palace in Callendar Road after a lovely meal there last Friday evening.
The food was recommended by a friend who frequents it and assured me it was worth a visit. After a particularly tiresome week at work following a fortnight off, cooking wasn’t high on my agenda.
The restaurant is pretty dated I have to say, but what the place lacks in lavishness in the room is more than compensated for on the plate.
Everything we ate was freshly cooked and presented to us exquisitely and professionally. I love wee touches like plate warmers and cucumbers carved into boats filled with fruit.
First up for us was the mixed starter for two which had prawn toast, spare ribs, prawn drumsticks wrapped in crispy battered shreds, salty chicken wings and spring rolls with some seaweed and salad added for garnish.
There was nothing left of it pretty quickly and the ribs in particular were brilliant. The sauce was spicy and there was plenty of meat which fell off the bone.
I opted for a good old chicken and mushroom curry for my main meal. The menu has loads of delicious looking dishes and I wanted them all, but I just couldn’t decide what to choose so played it safe, which wasn’t my original intention.
The chicken was plentiful and presented in slices in its original breast shape in a thick, rich sauce along with perfectly cooked fried rice. It was a good plateful and I didn’t leave much it was so good.
My girlfriend had the honey chicken with cashew nuts in a rich, dark sweet chilli sauce and rice that was equally succulent.
The Dragon Palace proved to be the perfect tonic for the start of a busy weekend and I’ll take substance over style every time.