Edinburgh’s Bonham Hotel has been gorgeously refurbished. It wasn’t as if it was a mess to start with, quite the opposite. The west New Town houses it occupies are beautifully proportioned and stiff with period detail. The dining room, which was always handsome, is now quite stunning. With its high corniced ceilings, parquet floor and wood panelling it oozes solidity. Blissfully quiet, it offers a tantalising proposition – the ability to hold a conversation without having to shout.

Maybe the wood panelling and the chairs, roundly upholstered in raspberry-coloured velvet, absorb sound and mitigate the “Lombard Effect” whereby noise breeds noise as diners automatically raise their voices over music and other voices to make themselves heard. Such environments are wearing, even if your hearing is fine and you don’t suffer from tinnitus. Who wants to emerge from a restaurant with your vocal chords aching from shouting over din?

So eating at the Bonham induces tranquillity. The atmosphere relaxes us; our shoulders drop. We temporarily put aside disturbing thoughts, such as Boris Johnson being PM. Besides, there are other good things about the Bonham: an extravagant vase tumbling with fresh flowers; endearing staff, who manage to be both professional and human. And let’s not overlook the fact that for a place that could so easily be stuffy and gilt-edged, you can select reasonably priced wine to partner dishes priced at a sensible level that makes some nearby competitors look overpriced.

Two squares of what looks like hard blue cheese arrive; this is the “cultured” (made from ripe cream) butter. It has bone marrow in it. Meaty butters seem to having a moment. It’s cold and hard as though it came from the freezer not the fridge, and anyway, I’m enjoying dipping my bread in the dark green extra virgin olive oil, which might owe its deep colour to dill.

I order badly, so my starter – a shallot spin on Tarte Tatin – is too similar to my vegetarian main course, misrepresented as “leek gratin”. The shallots are a mixed bunch, unevenly cooked, some like buttery, melting rosebuds, other unpalatably crunchy. But the golden sphere of flaky pastry they sit upon is a paragon of its

type, and with the whipped goat’s curd that flanks it, which tastes as though it has been fortified with strong blue cheese, it would, were the shallots handled better, add up to an impressive dish. Our asparagus spears, thin, with an eye-catching fresh greenness, were evidently well sourced and are cooked to perfection. They come with finely grated, salt-cured duck egg yolk, and a frothy pink grapefruit sabayon, the latter unorthodox but not unsuccessful.

Now here’s a sight to make the mouth water, a whole plaice on the bone, a thick, substantial one, glistening with buttery, caper-studded juices. The debris on top, shavings of fennel that taste atypically watery, blood orange segments, samphire, feels overwrought, and the vapid crayfish tails in it are utterly superfluous, doing nothing for a jolly fine fish. As for the leek gratin, the leeks are on the plain side, although they are perched on the first Jersey Royals I’ve tasted for ages that actually have that elusive taste and new potato consistency that attaches to this celebrated potato cultivar. The spuds have been meticulously browned, but there’s not enough of either the Camembert sauce or the hazelnut and potato skin crumb to stop this presenting as an overly elementary vegetarian dish of leek and potato that’s cost us £16.

Desserts sound irretrievably over-elaborate. We steer clear of the Limoncello tart with cucumber sorbet, mango lavender salsa, and cucumber crisp. Yet the tremulous rhubarb panna cotta that comes with fresh strawberry “soup” and a dagger of brittle stem ginger tuile, slips over our tongues like satin. The dark chocolate and salted caramel cheesecake, stickily satisfying upon its oaty base, with its honeycomb ice cream, has much the same effect.

The charity, Action on Hearing Loss, says that 81% of both people with and without hearing loss have difficulty holding a conversation in a restaurant. 91% say they will not make a return visit to a place where the noise levels were too high. At the Bonham, you’ll have no such trouble, and you’ll eat pretty well too.

Bonham Hotel, 35 Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh
0131 226 6050

Food: 8/10
Atmosphere: 10/10
Service: 10/10
Value for money: 8/10