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.

REVIEW: Mumbai Mansion

250 Morrison Street, Edinburgh, EH3 8DT, 0131 229 7173

The 2015 Edinburgh Festival is in full swing, and everywhere you go this month you’ll find plenty of pop-up restaurants and street food shacks. But what if you don’t want to fight off seagulls while tucking into your curry? What if you want a real sit down experience: one with friendly waiters and well presented scran? Well my friend, Mumbai Mansion is the place for you.

Mumbai Starters
L-R: cucumber and chicken salad, lamb shami kebab, chargrilled prawn

 

Its Morrison Street location may seem a little out of the way, but really it’s only 20 minutes walk from George Square (where we saw the absolutely fantastic play Little Thing, Big Thing: catch it if you can). There’s a really nice gin bar next door, The Jolly Botanist, where I can definitely recommend grabbing an aperitif.

Everything on the menu looked tempting so it was quite difficult to decide what to order. I decided that the best way to get a feel for the restaurant was to order the tasting menu (minimum 2 people, £32.95 per head). This included an array of their best starters and some of their showcase mains. We ordered a bottle of prosecco (£18.95) to go with our meal because sparkling wines complement Indian food fantastically, non? The fizz price was on par with many of the other wines on the menu, so we would have been mad not to.

The first dish to appear from the kitchen was the chicken and cucumber salad: little chunks of marinated cold chicken bound with coleslaw and wrapped up in a cucumber ribbon. I’ll be honest here: this didn’t exactly set my world on fire. The fresh apple strips were a nice touch, and the cucumber was nice and light, but the chicken itself was a bit disappointing. Thankfully it was the only weak point in a fantastic meal and otherwise impressive tasting menu.

Mumbai Starters 2
L-R: corn and pea kebab, scallops and mussels, chicken tikka

 

Next to appear was the chicken tikka. The plate consisted of two chunks of chicken marinated in English mustard and yoghurt, with a lovely nutty sauce on the side. The chicken was tender and juicy, and packed with flavour. The spice was subtle and the accompanying sauce really gave it a lift. The sweetcorn and pea kebab, our next dish, was also rather delicious. These little patties had a fantastic texture and were packed with fresh, warm flavours.

The real standout of the evening were the scallops and mussels served with the herby and coconutty Nilghiri sauce. Oh my word, I could eat this dish all day every day. The waiter was already amused by how fast we were inhaling the food he brought out, but I think the speed at which we devoured this particular plate surprised him even more. But can you blame us? The scallops were cooked on the grill first and were done to absolute perfection. The sauce was tossed on afterwards. The result was tender and juicy scallops, complemented by the sauce and not smothered by it.

The chargrilled skewered prawns were brought next, and although they were very tasty our minds were still very much with the mussels and scallops. Sorry prawns! Our odyssey of starters came to a close with the lamb shami kebab. Minced lamb stuffed with ricotta and tarragon, it was a delightful little dish and probably a close second to the scallops in terms of our favourite thing on the menu.

Mumbai Misc

We had a little break between our starters and our main course, at which point we were brought some mint and lime flavour sorbet in a little basket of sesame seed brittle. This was an absolutely wonderful palate cleanser and had us ready to tackle our showstopping main: the grilled Scottish lobster served with Alappy style moilee sauce!

Mumbai Mains
L-R: butter chicken, rice, seasonal veggies, and the grilled lobster at the bottom.

 

The lobster was curried and presented in its shell. How impressive! At this point I thought this tasting menu would definitely impress the ladies on date night (as long she doesn’t have an aversion to seafood or shellfish with its head still on). There were some nice generous chunks of lobster in there, again cooked to perfection, with a slow heat that crept up on me after swallowing a few bites.

The butter chicken was slightly spicier than the versions I’m used to, although it still had a wonderful creaminess that counteracted the heat of the lobster. The seasonal vegetables, naan and rice made lovely little accompaniments to the main dishes.

As if that wasn’t enough, we were brought some dessert: Sticky Toffee Pudding! The plate included a warm cake lavished with hot toffee sauce with some vanilla ice cream on the side. The ice cream was topped with a fennel crisp and some orange crumble. It was exactly the sort of hearty dish you need to warm your cockles on a chilly August evening in the ‘burgh.

Mumbai dessert

Mumbai Mansion straddles the line between fine dining and standard Indian restaurant perfectly. With everyone and his dog currently extolling the virtues of street food it’s so refreshing to visit a restaurant that’s chosen to glam up instead of dress down. If you’re looking for an Indian meal in Edinburgh, but want to take it to the next level, I reckon you should get yourself down to Morrison Street and check it out.

I was invited along to Mumbai Mansion by their PR company. Despite this all thoughts, as always, are my own.

REVIEW: La Petite Mort

La Petite Mort, 32 Valleyfield Street, Tollcross, Edinburgh EH3 9L, 0131 229 3693

I know this great little place in Edinburgh. Tucked along an unremarkable side-street near Bruntsfield Links, a few steps from the hustle and bustle of Tollcross, in a perfectly convenient location if you’re catching a show at the King’s. This cosy little bistro is decorated with mismatched chairs, with low lighting and low laughter. Welcome to La Petite Mort.

La Petite Mort

The menu is small but perfectly formed. There are three starters, five mains, and three desserts to choose  from. Everything sounded absolutely delicious so it took a lot of humming and hawwing before we eventually settled on what we wanted to order. The staff really know their stuff and our waitress was happy to make recommendations and talk us through her favourite dishes on the menu.

This goes double for the drinks. As well as a nicely curated wine list, La Petite Mort also offers a nice range of cocktails. We didn’t partake but I did steal a few jealous glances at the group of hipsters chilling out at another table sipping their expertly mixed whisky sours.

We stuck to wine, and after some serious deliberation chose the white pinot grigio (£18.95) to accompany our meal. It was a lovely bottle, light and crisp and bursting with fruity flavours. Perfect for a summer’s evening. As we waited for our starters to arrive we sipped our wine and nibbled at some freshly baked tarragon and cumin bread. It had a lovely peppery kick, and got me excited for what was coming next.

Freshly baked tarragon and cumin bread.
Freshly baked tarragon and cumin bread.

I started with the black pudding and goats cheese bon bons on fennel seeded confit courgette ribbons (£5.95). I’m a sucker for a good haggis ball, and this was a unique yet similar take on an old classic. The batter was nice and crisp, the rich black pudding and creamy goats cheese complemented each other delightfully, while the tangy sauce and fresh courgette cut straight through the richness.

Black pudding and goats cheese bon bons
Black pudding and goats cheese bon bons

James began with the pan seared scallops on home smoked halloumi with sauce vierge (£7.95). Sounds weird, eh? This was the definite winner of the night and, although it’s the most expensive starter on the menu, it’s definitely worth the extra pennies. Who knew scallops and cheese would make such great bedfellows? The saltiness of the halloumi was the perfect foil to the creamy scallops (which were cooked to perfection, btw).

Scallops with home-smoked halloumi: definitely the star of the show
Scallops with home-smoked halloumi: definitely the star of the show

All of the mains sounded fantastic. Usually I go for the lamb (rump in this case), but tonight I threw a curve ball and chose the trio of pork: roasted loin, braised cheek and a pulled pork sausage roll (£13.95). This was a lovely little plate, with plenty of different flavours and things going on. If you’ve got dinner-time ADHD and always find yourself nicking nibbles from your pal’s plates this dish will keep your fork faithful. The pork cheek sat on some buttery spinach while the loin perched precariously on some creamy fondant potatoes. The poor loin was upstaged by the pulled pork and the pork cheek, but it was still very tasty (especially when smeared with red wine jus).

The Trio of Pork! L-R: pulled pork sausage roll, braised cheek, and pork loin with fondant potatoes
The Trio of Pork! L-R: pulled pork sausage roll, braised cheek, and pork loin with fondant potatoes

James had the pan fried fillet of seabass on celeriac and apple puree with buttered spinach and honey tempura aubergine (£12.95). The skin was crisp, the fish was tender, and the aubergine was divine. I did catch him throwing a few jealous glances at my pork cheek, though.

Sea bass with tempura aubergines
Sea bass with tempura aubergines

We really should have said no to dessert, but when you’ve had a meal as good as this one it’s hard to stop! James went for the earl grey dark chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream while I went for the marvellous white russian set cheesecake with black russian jelly (both £4.95). Both desserts were yummy, and we unashamedly stole bites from each others plates. We both agreed that the cheesecake was the best of the two, with the cubes of cola and coffee jelly adding a lovely after-dinner boost.

Earl Grey fondant cake on the left, White Russian cheesecake on the right
Earl Grey fondant cake on the left, White Russian cheesecake on the right

For me La Petite Mort is the perfect little date night spot. It’s cosy and atmospheric, the staff are friendly and welcoming, and the prices are totally reasonable. It’s a fantastic addition to the Tollcross area and somewhere I will certainly be returning to.

I was invited by La Petite Mort to sample their spring menu. I was under no obligation to write a positive review, but I have anyway because the food was super tasty and the space was super lovely. All opinions are my own, apart from where I’ve included James’s thoughts.

Click to add a blog post for La Petite Mort on Zomato

 

REVIEW: The Stockbridge Restaurant

When I was invited along to review The Stockbridge Restaurant, I absolutely jumped for joy. Tucked away in a basement on St Stephen’s Street, this chic little brasserie has been impressing diners for years. Helmed by award winning chef Jason Gallagher, and sitting pretty in TripAdvisor’s Edinburgh top ten, it’s the ideal place to celebrate a special occasion.

Stockbridge Restaurant

And special occasion it was. The week before our visit, James and I had hiked along the West Highland Way: 96 miles from Milngavie to Fort William. It was absolutely incredible and I’ll definitely be writing about it soon, but for now let’s talk about our victory meal in one of Edinburgh’s most lovely restaurants, shall we?

We were allowed to choose any table for two that we fancied, so I chose one right in the middle of the restaurant. Despite being sandwiched between two tables for three, we still felt like we had plenty of privacy. There was lots of room to move, and it really felt quite romantic. Can I just take this moment to add that I think tables for three are an excellent idea? Quite a few groups were arriving with three members, and it’s nice having everyone sitting round the table without a spare chair reminding someone that they’re the third wheel.

Our pre-starter and fresh baked bread
Our pre-starter and fresh baked bread

The wine list had some really nice sounding bottles, and I liked the way that it was split into flavours rather than regions. We went for a nice floral bottle (from Spain). Before we started our meal we were presented with a basket packed with fresh bread, and a lovely vinaigrette singing with fresh herbs. We made short work of that, before being brought our “pre-starter” which was a tasty little mozzarella salad.

We ate from the ala carte menu and let me say that choosing a starter was probably one of the most difficult decisions of my life. Everything, and I mean everything, sounded good. Here are just a couple of things I could have chosen: “spiced pigeon breast with duck liver pate, wild mushrooms, onions, pancetta and red wine sauce” , “seared salmon with avruga caviar, crab beignet, crayfish and scallop mousse, courgette ribbons and shellfish sauce” , and “seared Scallops with cherry tomatoes, tapenade, aubergine and tomato vinaigrette.”

Goat cheese fondant
Goat cheese fondant

After some humming and hawing, I went for the “Goats cheese fondant with beetroot salsa, caramelized walnuts and toasted brioche.”I was definitely happy with my choice. The tangy goats cheese, earthy beetroot, and crunchy sweet nuts went together perfectly to create a nice light starter that had me anticipating my main.

Run, rabbit, run... right into my belly!
Run, rabbit, run… right into my belly!

 

James went for the absolutely amazing sounding “Rabbit loin wrapped in Serrano ham with a cep mousse, tagliatelle, wild mushrooms and Madeira sauce.” I cheekily stole some, slipping some onto my side plate while the waitress’s back was turned. Another excellent choice, with all the elements coming together nicely to create a deep and delicious first course.

Gressingham duck breast
Gressingham duck breast

The mains were equally delightful sounding, but for me it’s hard to see past duck if it’s on a menu. The “Gressingham duck breast with duck confit spring roll, foie gras boudin, savoy cabbage and bacon, potato terrine and sauce” certainly didn’t disappoint. The duck was nicely pink, full of flavour and really juicy. The potato terrine was my favourite though, it reminded me of my mum’s dauphinoise potatoes. Something she only makes at Christmas.

Fishy dishy
Fishy dishy- seared sea bass with crab ravioli

James went for the “seared sea bass with crab ravioli, crushed heritage potatoes, langoustine bisque and braised vegetables” which I thought sounded pretty darn good. It must have been, because he didn’t let me anywhere near it. Clean plates all round.

Finally, it was time for dessert: although I didn’t manage to snap a pic as I was too eager to get tucked in, d’oh! James went for the “plum Crumble with vanilla sauce and praline ice cream” while I indulged my inner chocoholic by choosing the “Chocolate brulee with chocolate brownie, white chocolate mousse and milk chocolate ice cream.”

Dessert was the only course that didn’t blow me away, actually. I was expecting the white chocolate mousse to be more, well, moussey. It had more of a melted, gooey texture. I also thought the milk chocolate flavour in the ice cream didn’t really stand up too well. Personally I prefer a dark chocolate ice cream, something rich and fudgey. The chocolate brulee was excellent though. Again, I don’t know about the plum crumble because James scoffed the lot before I got a look-in.

But hey, two out of three certainly ain’t bad: and with other delightful sounding desserts on the go like banana tart tatin and an IJ Mellis cheese board, I think I might have to come back and give them a wee chance to redeem themselves. 😉

The Stockbridge Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Hard Rock Cafe Southern & Smoke Launch

When Hard Rock Cafe got in touch with me to ask if I’d like to cover their Southern & Smoke launch, I knew that there was only one man for the job. Yep: it’s time for another snazzy blog from my roving reporter Euan! Take it away, pal…

What on earth is liquid smoke?!

It was a dreich Thursday and I had been at a very dull meeting until 6pm. But my day was about take an exciting turn as I headed into the Hard Rock Café on George Street! Again, I had the fear that my name would not be on the list…but it was! Jack and I were led past the usual punters to a small function room in the back. Absolutely brilliantly Kirsty from Indigo Buttons was there too, the night was getting even better!

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Euan, Kirsty, and chums

Initially the surroundings were a bit confusing. The seats were very close together and it took me quite a bit of manoeuvring to find “my spot”. There was quite a lot of raw meat on display, most prominently two chickens, aptly named ‘Frankie’ and ‘Benny’. After being stocked up with Corona’s the executive chef came out and spoke to us all. He has quite and impressive CV! Having worked in Michelin Starred restaurants and managing the catering for our troops in Afghanistan, he has found himself in the kitchen of this George Street hotspot. Lucky they are to have him!

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Portioning a chicken!

My Hard Rock prejudices were starting to melt away…

The chef began by explaining that the Hard Rock Cafe is the only chain restaurant in the UK that do all of their own smoking. Something I did not know! I foolishly assumed that the kitchen would just be a giant microwave, apparently not! Very impressive. He demonstrated on poor Frankie and Benny how to portion a chicken before one of the other guests made an admirable attempt on the second one. We explored the ingredients which go into the Hard Rock Café’s finger lickin’ barbecue sauces and rubs. This is where I saw liquid smoke! It is the weirdest thing. The chef explained that all it is is smoke ‘infused’ water. That put my gas at a peep, I was thinking this was a strange concoction of chemicals and additives.

Before getting onto the main event (tasting the food!) we were shown how to prepare whole piggy legs and gigantic racks of ribs. I was always a bit scared of eating ribs after I found out in standard grade biology that the meat was called ‘intercostal tissue’ (boak), but I occasionally put my reservations aside (for the right person!). The pork in the Hard Rock Café is always from the UK, apart from the ribs which come from France, bit odd I thought!

20130919_184854
Explaining the porky goodness

We had an eeeeennnnnnoooorrrrrmmmmoooouuuuusssss wait for the food, but we were kept well stocked up with beverages and the chat was pretty top notch. Silly move taking the car! Eventually the food arrived and looked extremely appetising on the plate. A bit of a weird guy took a  SHARING platter, a knife and fork, and sat facing the wall eating the whole thing! That’s just not cricket! There was plenty of other food though, but seriously, what a freak.

I kicked off proceedings with the chicken wings. The Tangy Bar-B-Que sauce was my absolute favourite. They wings were really meaty and the sauce had just the right amount of spiciness. I’d genuinely just go back for them.

20130919_184622
BBQ sauces

We were then treated to the real smokehouse grub, prepared, smoked and cooked in house! The portions are tremendous and the meat is just lovely. The chicken and ribs fall off the bone and after each mini plateful I was re-enacting my favourite ‘Curly Sue’ scene.

Behind the Tangy Bar-B-Que wings, my next favourite was the smoked pulled pork. Oh my goodness, fond memories. I think, served with the authentic vinegar or Hickory Bar-B-Que based sauce, it could make the perfect accompaniment to anything. Sandwiches, roast dinner, Special K, blancmange. Seriously, nothing would not be improved by the addition of the Hard Rock Café smoked pulled pork. Mmmmm!

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Rubs!

In conclusion, my reservations about the Hard Rock Cafe were blown out the water. The food was delicious and the hosting was so warm and friendly. It really is great to know that all the prepping, smoking and cooking happens in house overseen by such an experienced and passionate chef.

I will definitely be back, possibly not for a romantic meal with silver service, but for an opportunity to face plant some delicious pulled pork and get in a complete state with chicken wings. Cant wait!

Hard Rock Cafe on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: The Atelier

I was back in Edinburgh for about ten days just there, and oh my god what a whirlwind it was! Thankfully I had a wonderful send-off, spending my last night with a gang of lovely foodies in one of the West End’s (is Morrison Street the West End?) fabulous new restaurants, The Atelier.

Despite spending nine months living in France, my French pronunciation is still pish. As I told my best pal (and sometimes guest contributor, Euan) where we were going for dinner that night he thought I was saying “The Italia”. D’oh.

Anyway, we managed to get there before everyone else: even before Mr LunchQuest himself, who is usually always promptly on time. Soon we were joined by a bunch of lovely Yelpers, and I was sat beside the lovely Claire, Yelp Edinburgh’s foremost gluten free expert and book lover extraordinaire. Fabulous company for a rainy Thursday, but how did the food match up?

It matched up well, I’d say.

Everything on the menu sounded wonderful, so I decided to just do something a little bit odd and went for the most expensive starter and the least expensive main course. Really I just fancied the cheap main, which was a puy lentil and lanark blue salad with some sundried tomatoes, and I got the pricey starter to make myself feel less tight fisted.

Pig's Ear never looked so good
Pig’s Ear never looked so good

My starter, crispy pig’s ear (my dog used to eat those!) with scallops and a seafood mayo was yummilicious. The crispy pig’s ear was so very tasty that I had it in mind to drive right up to Pets at Home and grab one to munch on later. I joke. Really, it was very nice. The scallops were done to perfection, nice and soft and moist and juicy and mmm!

Then the main courses arrived, and with it my food envy. Here’s a picture of Euan’s fishy dish because my salad wasn’t very exciting to look at. Yep, those are wee chunks of pork belly.

Fishy dishy!
Fishy dishy!

My My meal paled in comparison. It was pretty tasty but could have done with more cheese. Then again, that’s my answer to everything. “How’s the wine Miss Porter?” “Mm it’s fine but it could do with MORE CHEESE!” This is one reason I reckon I’ll probably never have babies, the thought of giving up ooey gooey brie, stinky minky epoisse, and tangy bangy (?!) roquefort for nine months just does not sit well with me.

Anyway, I digress. The salad was tasty enough and left me with that self righteous feeling that can only come with eating a great big plate of lentils when everyone around you is porkin’ it up with steak, crisp fried fish skin, and pork belly. In all it was pretty triumphant.

We were all stuffed, so we said no to dessert. I seem to remember saying no to coffee, but I honestly can’t remember now. I remember the days when I could sink a whole bottle of vino and now a half gets me tiddly.

As for cost? It really wasn’t that pricey. I paid in the region of £25 for a starter, main course, and half a bottle of wine. Considering that I spent almost that in Vittoria’s for a half pizza/half pasta and a wee espresso, the same in Phuket Pavillion for a curry and some rice, and bloody £5 more the next night in London for a feckin’ curry and dessert (all with a half bottle of wine too of.c.), I’d say it was a bargain!

It’s the kind of place you can take a date that you’re trying to impress. Romantic, pretty posh, and very tasty. I’ll be taking the other half when we’re back in Edinburgh next year.

The Atelier on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Tempus Summer 2013 Menu

Tempus, 25 George Street, 0131 240 7197

Ladies and gentlemen, my Edinburgh correspondent Euan is back with a bang! This time he’s managed to blag himself an invite to Tempus’s Summer Menu launch. That boy has connections, I tell thee. I’ve never been to Tempus, but I do remember an old friend saying that their chips are to die for. Closely followed by their French Martinis. This made me wonder why I haven’t been, and after seeing Euan’s verdict I reckon it’ll be a must visit on my next trip home. Anyway, enough blethering from me: heeeeere’s Euan!

Photo shamelessly nicked from Lynne's Facebook
Photo shamelessly nicked from Lynne’s Facebook

I was very excited when Lynne invited me to tag along to bloggers’ event at Tempus on George Street. I had had a pretty stressy day at work, so this was going to be welcome relief! I was also super excited about meeting Kirsty from Indigo Buttons, as I’ve recently become obsessed by her blog read a few of her posts…

After arriving in town and stopping off at The Queens Arms for the obligatory glass of wine (LOVE The Queens Arms), I headed along to Tempus to meet Lynne. I never knew that Tempus was part of the George Hotel, but it is, so there you go. This event was to launch their new summer me-en-you, and I was expecting a couple of drinks and a few trays of nibbles…and I would have been perfectly delighted with that. But no, it would seem that when Tempus does an event, IT DOES AN EVENT!

Strolling in past the punters we were met by the lovely Toni from DADA who checked our name on the clipboard, we’re in. We then got handed a massive tumbler of cocktail, Elderflower Tattoo, which is made with Sailor Jerry Rum, this was looking good! It was very refreshing and perfect for a summer evening. We then took our seat with Kirsty and her mate at a table for four. Why were there 6 wine glasses in front of me, surely not…..

The general manager then introduced the evening, followed by the executive chef. We were made to feel so welcome, and the management at Tempus are clearly proud of what they have to offer. The chef even offered to show us round the kitchen if we fancied it later on. The wine supplier spoke to us all about the varieties of wine on offer as I began to become delirious with anticipation.

Then the food started to arrive. Each ’round’ of three dishes were presented on a rectangular plate with a big enough portion for Lynne and I to share. This was exactly the same format for the starters, mains and deserts. They did have the full versions of each dish presented at the back of the restaurant for us to look at.

I’ll be honest, I have been known to be difficult to please, but I was blown away by the starters. My particular favourite was the buffalo mozzarella with 6 month cured Coppa ham, and this was only marginally in front of the rope grown mussels. I don’t normally like mussels, but these were perfect. Each ’round’ was matched with a wine which was perfectly selected by the wine supplier. The company wasn’t bad either, I thought that I had landed in some parallel universe!

The mains did not disappoint. I was trying to decide which was my favourite between the sea bream and the belly of pork (with braised check FRITTER…), but then I had forgotten about the burger! The humble burger was elevated to new heights in Tempus. I don’t know why, but it was just the nicest burger (mini version) I have ever had. The meat is from the world famous Crombie’s butchers and the cheese is local. My mouth is watering at the memory.

Oh, I almost forgot about the wines…

Each wine was introduced by the very knowledgeable supplier who did the rounds during the night. We were treated to 3 whites and 3 reds to match our courses. The range of wines was excellent and each one was very easy to sup away at. None of your three for a tenner here!

The deserts were presented beautifully on the same style of rectangular plates. My favourite was absolutely the Illy coffee and Valrona white chocolate crème brulee served in a cappuccino cup. And then the pineapple carpaccio with panna cotta and coconut ice cream, and then the lemon tart with clotted cream ice cream, and the cheese, and the wine. The sticky toffee pudding was a wee bit dry, but who am I to complain!

To round off the evening the waiter offered us a full glass of our favourite wine from the night, mine was the viognier (of course)!

BUT THEN, the General Manager felt that because it was such a lovely night he would take us on a quick tour of the hotel and up to the ’Panorama Suite’ for some champagne. The suite itself is beautiful and would be ideal for a wee wedding or posh birthday party. The roof terrace was unbelievable with brilliant views over Edinburgh and out to Fife, I felt like a superstar supping on my never ending glass of champers.

Needless to say I was in danger of overindulging, so Jack had to pick me up at 11pm (it was a school night after all!). Having never been in Tempus or the George Hotel before I would thoroughly recommend them. The menu was varied and surprisingly reasonable. Writing this blog has made me desperately want to book a table for tonight, and that’s what I think I might do…

Euan was enjoying himself too much to take any snaps, but you can see some lovely photos over at the equally lovely Lynne’s blog

Tempus on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: La Tasca

La Tasca, 9 South Charlotte Street, 01312200011

Edinburgh 039
Ronnie and Carol, aka my folks, aka Today’s Guest Reviewers

I was sitting in Edinburgh Airport waiting for my Ryanair flight back to Faro when I got an email from La Tasca’s PR company asking if I would be interested in reviewing their West End restaurant: which was awarded a 2013 Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor.

More interestingly, they’ve also got seven new daily specials created by their chef Antony Bennett. Each one is prepared with ingredients sourced from the best Spanish producers. 

The thought of ‘missing my flight’ did cross my mind, but in the end I decided to ask my mum and dad if they would like to go in my stead. Here’s what they thought!

Ronnie and I were delighted to try out this eatery in the very picturesque Charlotte Square, in Edinburgh’s West End. We are particularly partial to tapas due to the wide variety of tastes and dishes offered. I also think Spanish cuisine is very under rated compared to their Italian, and especially, their French continental cousins.

The restaurant was reasonably busy for a Wednesday evening. We were greeted by a friendly waitress who seated us by the big window. The atmosphere was friendly due to the clientele (a mix of families, couples and ladies who dine), colourful décor and Enrique Iglesias playing in the background.

I ordered the white house wine (Torres Vina Sol) which is very pleasant on the pallet, and Ronnie had a pint of Estrella (the beer of Barcelona) while we mused over the menu. There is no shortage of tempting tasty bites and being the adventurous souls that we are, we ordered the Spanish Rustic Bread Board with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip.

Seriously though, there is nothing that warms my heart more than a lovely bit of bread. I nearly overlooked it as a delight, being brought up with a ‘sliced pan’ which has its place, but tastes and feels nothing like the selection of bread here: all very fresh and tasty. The tortas was a good contrast in texture to the ciabatta and the cheese & onion bread.

Getting Started with Beer, Bread, and Anchovies
Getting Started with Beer, Bread and Anchovies

Appetites whetted, we progressed to order a selection of the all new ‘chef’s specials’. We ordered them all at once. Being Scottish, we are somewhat conditioned to be in a hurry and make sure we do not out stay our welcome. Not the spirit of tapas, I know, but I think most people in Edinburgh will order this way.

So our selection comprised of four dishes. First up, Amazing Spanish White Anchovies from Madrid. Right up our street! Slithers of tangy oily fish. Dare I say it…a pallet cleanser. Ronnie was particularly fond of this choice, despite the fact his belly was full of the lion’s share of the bread and dip (as well as the beer of Barcelona).

Slow cooked pork cheeks served with creamed mash potatoes. This was a fabulous choice. The meat melted in our mouths and the potato mash actually tasted like potatoes! There was also a sauce that balanced the dish…flavoured with aniseed and brandy. Yummy!

Galician Octopus with patatas. I really liked the flavour of this dish, especially the patatas! Unlike patatas bravas, they were not spicy hot. They were just seasoned very nicely. Unfortunately the octopus was very chewy. Do not get me wrong, we do not expect octopus to melt in our mouths but…we did expect to be able to chew it. Fortunately, Ronnie has a knack for swallowing things whole so he had most of the octopus and I got the tatties.

L-R: Galician Octopus, Aubergine Rolls, Pork Cheeks
L-R: Galician Octopus, Aubergine Rolls, Pork Cheeks

Stuffed Aubergine Rolls. Our favourite by far! This was a tangy dish of flavoursome goodness. Everything about this dish was, in my view, just lovely and sums up everything I adore about Spanish food. The Aubergines were stuffed with tomatoes, peppers and goat cheese. Perfect!

I do not usually bother with dessert but on this occasion I wanted to try the fat free sorbet. Not because I am on a diet (never been on one in my life) but because I thought it would be nice to review something for those who are watching their weight. I had a scoop of lemon and a scoop of strawberry. It was nice and fruity without being too sweet and best of all, no ice crystals.

Ronnie went for the full fat Malaga gelato with Pedro Ximenez Triana, aka rum and raisin ice cream with a lovely fine tasting sherry. All ice cream lovers should try this at least once.

Malaga Ice Cream with Pedro Ximinez
Malaga Ice Cream with Pedro Ximinez

In sum, the food in La Tasca is what food should be: fresh, tasty and satisfying. The service was friendly and efficient and the waitresses had a good knowledge and passion for the food they served. We will certainly be back.

La Tasca on Urbanspoon

Essential Edinburgh Eats

Well, I made it back to Edinburgh in one piece and what a whirlwind trip it was!

The first night home we had dinner reservations with most of our friends. I made myself sick by filling myself with curry and wine, and then proceeding to bounce around the place with excitement and joy. The next morning, I drank a can of Irn Bru and then I got my luscious mane of hair all chopped off: it made me happy, but what do you guys think of it?

Hottie or whattie?
Hottie or whattie?

The rest of the week was spent getting drunk and watching Game of Thrones with my folks, visiting my beautiful friend Sarah and her gorgeous wee lad Aston, grabbing lunches and vinos with a rather random selection of pals, and stuffing our faces in some awesome places.

My mum was excited to have me home, so insisted on cooking most nights. Thankfully I still managed to pop out and eat in a few places that I haven’t mentioned on here before. I decided to pull together my favourite places from this trip and make a wee list of awesome places to grab a wee bite, if you only have a few days to spend in my home town.

The Sicilian Pastry Shop

Despite living on Albert Street for six months, and living in Leith for even longer, I hadn’t been to the Sicilian Pastry Shop until this particular visit to Edinburgh. We wanted to thank my parents for letting us stay for the week, and my dad loves cake, so we popped in and picked up a box of treats. Everything was delicious, and everything cost around £1-£3. An absolute bargain when you think about the prices in places like Patisserie Valerie. I loved the croissant with strawberries and cream: so simple but so good. Everything was amazing though.

Sicilian Pastry Shop on Urbanspoon

M1 Sandwich Shop and Deli

We had a lovely day wandering around the boutiques on Easter Road; my parents were both baffled when I pointed out the ‘Dugs n Pubs’ stickers on the doors, and told them that it means they can bring their gremlin Ziggy in. My mum even shouted at my dad in Cornelius, and the poor guy behind the till had to say “no, dogs are welcome here!” anyway, I’m getting off track.

PicMonkey Collage

Aidan (James’s wee bro) told us that M1 make a lovely espresso for 80p, so we ended up popping in every morning for a wee shot of coffee. Lovely and rich, it reminded me of the espresso I’d been drinking in France for the past 8 months. They also have some fresh made jam, cakes, and sandwiches: although we always used to pick up a lovely sourdough loaf for dinner. My dad still pops in there every day. If you want a cheap, tasty coffee: in you go.

Cafe Renroc

I used to walk past this place all the time on my way to James’s house, but I haven’t actually been in until this year when my parents moved into town and started frequenting Renroc all the time. They’re on first name basis with the staff: although I think that’s down to the staff’s friendliness, more than anything else. My folks took us out for a nice Sunday breakfast.

renroc2

It was delicious. I had a ‘full monty’ (full english, basically, ’cause I’m a fat pie) while everyone else went for something a bit lighter. What can I say? I love me some baked beans! As well as having tasty food and friendly staff, the place is also beautifully decorated with a nice big downstairs. There’s a really lovely atmosphere, and I’d love to come back one night for dinner and drinks. I know that in the summer they put on entertainment, so y’all should make this your new after work hang out spot!

Café Renroc on Urbanspoon

Amigos

This wee takeaway is perfect for a late night snack. I got a vegetable wrap (potato wedges, chilli sauce, garlic mayo, awesome) and chips.

Jemma Chips

 Unfortunately my mum didn’t think it was awesome, although I think James’s dad got jealous when he saw just how many chips I got to stuff into my fat face! It was super cheap too, and probably one of the best takeaways on the East End of town. Give it a bash next time you’re staggering home.

Amigos Edinburgh on Urbanspoon

Sushiya

There’s some debate over which sushi restaurant in Edinburgh is the best, but for me it’s always going to be sushiya. Nothing beats their rainbow roll. It’s the first place I ever tried proper sushi, back when I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to nibble it or chuck the whole thing in my gob in one go. I’ve had amazing dates there, I’ve dined there after kicking ass at laser quest: it’s one of my favourite wee places to pick up a bite in the ‘burgh. We popped in for lunch and the food was just as great as it usually is, although I didn’t take any photofaffs.

Sushiya on Urbanspoon

Where should I visit next time I’m in Edinburgh? Let me know what I’m missing out on!

Krispy Kreme Edinburgh Launch Night!

When the lovely MC2 PR company got in touch with me to see if I’d like to attend the grand opening of Krispy Kreme Edinburgh, I knew it was a job for my roving reporter Euan. Unfortunately I made the mistake of asking him on Facebook, causing a flurry of “aww I want to go too!” from a few of my friends. So while I sat at home last night, restricting myself to 500 calories (it’s a long story…) Euan was doing this…

Euan: Jemma Eat World's official roving reporter!

Doughnut Look Past Krispy Kreme Edinburgh

I was obviously unsure about whether or not to take up Jemma’s offer of attending the Krispy Kreme Edinburgh launch night…NOT!

Hermiston Gait Retail Park opened its ‘doors’ in 1999 with great wonderment and anticipation. It was about as successful as the Glasvegas hotel I stayed in on Saturday night, whimpering disgracefully through the years with fewer and fewer customers. Fortunately Hermiston Gait’s future was saved when it was bought over in 2009 for a cool £66 million. Since then, it has gone from strength to strength with better transport links and new Tesco and B&Q super-stores opening!

The latest additions are the obligatory KFC (meh), and Scotland’s first Krispy Kreme Drive-Thru! I have followed the opening for the past year after being informed by my ever wise gran that Krispy Kreme Edinburgh was opening soon. Krispy Kreme did deny it for a while leading to much disappointment, but alas, they are finally here!

The pre-opening PR and Marketing has been unbelievable. Over the past couple of months there have been ‘Munros’ of free doughnuts given away left, right and centre. Many Edinburgers have been awash with excitement. There were obviously the haters, but as the wise ghetto folk say, “haterz gonna hate”.

Jack and I arrived to the Krispy Kreme Edinburgh launch night starving and ready to stuff our faces with the sugary delights. Early signs were good, a glass of champagne and a lemon meringue pie doughnut on arrival – thank you very much! Jack had a glass of orange juice and a glazed raspberry ‘nut. He was the designated driver, obvs.

Krispy Kreme Edinburgh

The inside is really swanky. Good lighting, plenty of Krispy Kreme branding, lots of different colours and a huge window where you can peer into the Wonka Factory of doughnuts. We found ourselves a ‘spot’ and I began nursing my glass as it became apparent that they weren’t topping up…

THEN I just about wet myself. Our strategic standing landed us a hot original glazed doughnut straight from the conveyor belt. Oh my bejeebus, that was the shiz! Those wee vans at fairs who have previously been my doughnut Mecca have nothing on this, however, the excitement then lulled slightly. The great doughnut famine had began.

The great doughnut famine of '13 (apparently)

We loitered, we sat, we looked sad (and took photos) but no doughnuts were thrust our way. It was quite clear that there was the ‘in crowd’ who the staff knew, and the non ‘in crowd‘. We were the latter.

Realising that I was now in the doughnut equivalent of Hunger Games, I decided that it was a man-eat-doughnut-world, and I had to fend for myself. The staff were great and friendly when you approached them front on and asked for a doughnut, or when you went back to the front door to get a second glass of champagne, but their hosting left a lot to be desired. The invite definitely said doughnutS and drinkS. Plural!

Anyway, my foraging gave us another lemon meringue pie, 2 apple cinnamons and a millionaire shortbread doughnut. All in all a good haul, I would kick Katniss’ ass in here. The lemon meringue pie was my most anticipated doughnut, and it didn’t disappoint. Citrus filling with sweet, crunchy topping. YUM. The apple cinnamon doughnuts were nice, but they aren’t going to rock your world.

They were definitely the rich tea of the Krispy Kreme range. Always there for you, but not the first name on the guest list. My millionaire shortbread doughnut however was definitely the VIP in my doughnut world, they were even sprinkled with gold! I could quite easily have impure thoughts about these ‘nuts…

We did have a tour round the Krispy Kreme Edinburgh kitchen booked for 7.45pm, but it wasn’t really the sort of place you could hang about awkwardly for too long. We lasted almost 2 hours though before bailing, and I could see all the kitchen from the restaurant anyway.

Krispy Kreme Edinburgh kitchen

The Lord Provost with his jewels didn’t last that long, and I bet he was being showered with doughnuts and champagne!  Mark Martin from Forth One was also there disc jockeying, Jack told me that I wasn’t allowed to go and get his autograph though.

All in all, I did enjoy myself. The doughnuts are delish and the dough part is very light. This was a major concern of my favourite uncle! My last bug bear was that some of the glitterati were getting a box away with them, but not us. Little do they know the influence Jemma Eat World has!

All in all, I will definitely be back. Even although I felt like the loser at a frat party, Krispy Kreme is well worth a visit. Welcome to Edinburgh, Krispy Kreme!