REVIEW: Ghillie Dhu Ceilidh Night

Friday night in Edinburgh. What are the options? You can go to the pub. You can go out for dinner. I suppose you could even go to the cinema. OR! You can get dolled up, mosey on down to the Ghillie Dhu, and get your ceilidh on.  This is exactly what my pal Sam and I did last Friday. We popped along to the Rabbie Burns Supper Club to see what it’s all about.

Let’s talk about the space, first. As soon as you hop out the taxi you’re confronted by how impressive the building is. The Ghillie Dhu is inside what used to be the St Thomas Episcopal Church, so it is absolutely gorgeous and totally atmospheric. Winding stone staircases, high vaulted ceilings lit by chandeliers, and huge arched windows: it’s the aesthetic that gothic themed bars like Frankenstein are aiming for but can’t quite achieve.The beauty of the dining and ceilidh room (which is upstairs) really made an impact on me as soon as we walked in.

The evening starts at 6:30pm, but you can book a table later if you like. We decided to pop along at 7:30pm, and some groups arrived closer to 8pm. Our friendly waitress sat us down at a large round table and offered us a welcome drink: whisky or prosecco. We both went for the fizz  because, well, Friday!

The meal consists of a seasonal three course menu. We had a choice of three starters, four mains, and three desserts. It all seemed like very hearty Scottish cuisine, although surprisingly there was not a hint of haggis to be seen. As much as I love haggis, this was quite refreshing. We ordered all three dishes up front to give the kitchen a head start, and kicked back sipping our bubbles and putting the world to rights.

GD food
Clockwise from top: mushrooms, plaice, mousse, rioja

I decided to start with the sauteed forest mushrooms cooked in a light garlic and parsley sauce with toasted ciabatta. The waitress seemed pleased with my decision, saying this is her very favourite thing on the menu. The starter had a lot to live up to, but it did so admirably. I’m a sucker for garlicky mushrooms and these bad boys hit the spot. The ciabatta soaked up the sauce without becoming soggy, while the mushrooms themselves were cooked and seasoned to perfection.

For the main course I had the rolled fillet of plaice stuffed with prawn mousse and served with a crayfish sauce. This was a very flavoursome dish, and I could really taste the crayfish. The plaice was tender, while the prawn mousse made for a lovely light accompaniment. There was also some mashed potato on the plate, which was creamy and rich and simply divine. I love a bit of mash, me.

Finally, we finished our meal with the rich dark chocolate mousse with white chocolate shavings and shortbread. I absolutely love mousse so I was diving in with gusto when Sam said “the bowl almost looks like it’s made out of chocolate too!”. Well guys, let me tell you: it was. We spent a few seconds trying to work out  an elegant, ladylike way to eat a dark chocolate cup but in the end went for bashing it with our spoons then picking up the fragments with our fingers. Good grief!

GD ceilidh

After dinner the tables were cleared away, and we had a little while to relax and enjoy a blether and a drink while the ceilidh was set up. The band kicked off at 10pm with a Gay Gordons. The most important person at a ceilidh is the caller: have a bad caller, you’ll have a bad time. Luckily this guy really knew what he was doing and was perfect at demonstrating and explaining the steps. Soon the dance-floor was crowded (Sam gallantly volunteered to be my man) and we were all twirling around bumping into each other and giggling. It’s a bit of a work-out, let me tell you!

The next dance was my favourite: The Dashing White Sergeant. Unfortunately you need three people for this one. We were just a gruesome twosome and although we spent some time wandering around saying “I need a man!” we couldn’t find one. Where’s Tinder when you need it, eh? Still, it was fun to watch everyone paddy ba-ing away! By the time the reel came around we ended up with a group of, ahem, rather merry students. They were having a great time, and so were we. We ended up dancing the night away until the disco started: at which point we realised it was probably time to head home.

All in all, the Ghillie Dhu ceilidh night is great fun. We knew we’d definitely be coming back, and that we’d be dragging even more pals along next time. The prices are reasonable, too. The Rabbie Burns Supper Club is just £30 a head for three courses and a hoolie, while the ceilidh on it’s on is just a fiver to attend. A fiver!

Seriously dudes, grab your pals and head along next Friday. You’ll love it! Just remember to wear flat shoes.

I was invited along to visit the Ghillie Dhu. All opinions are my own, as always.

7 Most Disappointing Foodie Experiences

When you dine out as much as I do it’s only natural to expect a few disappointments. While getting a crap kebab or a bog standard burger can be a bit saddening, the worst is when you have seriously high hopes for a place only to have them dashed on the rocks of poor customer service. I’ve had quite a few sad foodie experiences in the past wee while, so I thought I’d share them with you lovely people.

The Time We Had To Wait Two Hours for Brunch

Cabslam

We popped into Cabslam for brunch one day because we’d heard awesome things. We sat down at 11am, ordered our brekkie, and we waited. Service was a bit slow, but after an hour I started to notice people who had arrived after us happily tucking into their food: in some cases the same food we’d ordered. Hmmm. I called over our waiter: he couldn’t even remember serving us. Then it turned out he’d lost our order. Cue another hour of waiting. Our food didn’t get bumped up the queue, and we weren’t offered free coffees to make up for the fact that we’d finished our drinks ages ago. The worst part is, to use their free Wi-Fi you have to like them on Facebook. So now I have to drool over their food knowing that I can never go back there because the service was so bad and I have principles. Sob.

The Time the Waitress Ate My Lunch

While we were in the Algarve we visited a restaurant known for its mixed grill. This formidable plate is enough for four people to share, or for two to stuff themselves full and still have some for lunch the next day. Thinking the leftovers would be handy for sandwiches the next day, I ordered it and shared with my dad. We asked for a doggy bag but it never came. As we were leaving my dad asked the owner if we could have our leftovers. She looked embarrassed and said “we must have thrown it out.” BUT! Just after our food was taken away we noticed the staff settling down for dinner. Suspicious! I’m not saying they ate my lunch, but they totally ate my lunch.

The Time We Had to Share a Table with Three French Men

The first sign something was off was that it was ‘Fresh Fish Friday’ but the menu was solely comprised of shellfish. The food was pretty average, but we were looking forward to dessert. Just before we could order it the waiter came over and asked us to budge over as he wanted to squeeze three more customers round our wee table. Didn’t really fancy eating my pudding when the guys sitting beside us were tucking into their garlicky starters, but sadly the waiter didn’t fancy bringing us the bill either. Awkward all round.

The Time We Got Served Raw Chicken

Lizarran is one of my favourite Spanish chains, so imagine my shock when I went into one of their restaurants in Madrid and got served this:

Lizarran Chicken

No apologies from the staff, nothing taken off our bill, nada. When I got in touch with Lizarran head office (via Twitter and email) I was also ignored! Moral of the story is, always cut your pintxo in half. Speaking of pintxos…

The Time We Went for Pintxos in Edinburgh

The arrival of an “authentic” Spanish tapas bar in Leith cheered me no end. But after visiting the place in question I realised this was 100% Edinburgh, 0% Sevilla. We ordered some bread and alioli and got about 3 teardrops of garlic mayo and six wee slices of bread for our £3.20. All the dishes were saucy, so we kept having to order more £3 bread baskets to mop up the juices. When my dad complained about the tiny portions and extortionate pricing he ended up in a Facebook slanging match with the owner. So I won’t be going back.

The Time We Went to a Fado Show

Fado

We had an amazing weekend in Lisbon just before Christmas. We ate so much good food, but sadly the weekend ended on a low note with a trip to a fado dinner show. The food was basically disgusting: my duck was overcooked and my rice was inedible. It was one of the most expensive meals we had all weekend. I spent the next couple of days suffering with food poisoning. Whether that’s the fado show’s fault or the Irish sausages my mum fed me when I got back to the Algarve is up for debate.

The Time We Got Invited on The Restaurant Inspector

Shortly after starting this blog, I paid a visit to Iggs. The food was nice but the service was awful. I complained on TripAdvisor and as a result got invited onto an episode of The Restaurant Inspector. Somehow they’d managed to make the restaurant even worse. We were left sitting for an hour waiting to pay for our drinks while the owner schmoozed with the TV crew. Eventually we just walked out, leaving our address in case they wanted to follow up for payment. They’ve closed down now, which is kind of a shame I suppose?

So, although not the worst meals I’ve ever eaten, these were definitely the most upsetting. What are your worst restaurant experiences?