Dukkah chicken - Blonde

Blonde

11th March 2017 8pm

http://blonderestaurant.co.uk/

After having some fun at Locked In Edinburgh at Summerhall (highly recommended) we popped round the corner – well maybe a little further – to Blonde for dinner. A deceptively large neighbourhood restaurant serving Scottish/European food, Blonde had a light and airy feel. We decided to bypass starters with the thought we may do dessert. So on that basis I went for coley from the mains, my friends went for rib-eye steak, dukkah chicken and gnocchi.

All arrived and I have to say the smell of my friend’s dukkah chicken was amazing. I had a serious amount of food envy. However, I tucked into my grilled fillet of coley. Sadly my first mouthful had a bone in it, which tainted what was otherwise a beautifully cooked piece of fish. Only one other bone was discovered in the generously sized fillet but it was a bit of a shame. The cheddar mash was good and not too over powering. The creamed leeks were nice and the kale full of flavour. Across from me, the rib-eye steak was a good size and came with roasted vegetables and fries. The steak was a little bit difficult to cut, even with a steak knife, which was disappointing. The gnocchi came with sun blushed tomatoes, broad brand and artichoke and was smothered in a cheese sauce. There was probably a bit too much sauce as my friend felt that it made the dish a bit dull as it became only one level of flavour. The aforementioned chicken was being warmly received. I think this was definitely the best dish at the table. Dukkah is a blend of seeds, nuts and spices. The chicken was perched on top of a sun blushed tomato, feta and sweet potato salad, mixed with a lime and avocado crème fraiche. My friend isn’t a big fan of feta but she concluded that it tasted good in this dish.

(apologies that these photos are a little blurred)

We decided that we couldn’t fit in desserts but we had an array of teas, coffees and liqueurs, the last of which was a Baileys which they had run out of but actually went out to get a new bottle. Now that’s service!

A pleasant enough meal which filled a hole in our stomachs.

Food – 7/10
Service – 9.5/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Value – 7/10

Overall – 30.5/40

Would I eat here again? Maybe

Cost £78 for four main courses, a gin and tonic, a baileys, a large bottle of sparkling water, an apple juice, an Americano and a mint tea.

Soup Pot - Cannonball

Cannonball

7th March 2017 6pm

www.contini.com/cannonball

We booked a table at Cannonball over month in advance. I received a call the week before, advising us that we would be in the whisky bar instead of main restaurant but still with the a la carte menu. Whilst this wasn’t really a problem, it was odd – particularly as when we arrived we were the only ones in. Half an hour later a coach party arrived, so they can be forgiven – just. Cannonball is situated on Royal Mile and as a result, we had a nice view of Camera Obscura from our table and out the other side I could see a glimpse of the castle.

The menu is relatively short but varied enough. I ordered goose followed by wild mushroom spelt risotto. My dining companion for the evening ordered the soup bowl followed by fish and chips. Whilst we waited we were given lovely bread rolls with plenty of butter and then a amazing salmon and lemon curd amuse bouche. We both really enjoyed the salmon and I was really impressed at how the lemon curd worked. It’s a combination I would definitely try again.

Salmon - Cannonball

Salmon – Cannonball

The starters looked lovely on arrival and presented on lovely crockery. My goose was rare (certainly not for those who don’t like their food to still be making animal noises) but delicious. A steak knife would have been handy though. I adored the pickled cranberries, which were vivid in colour and provided a sharpness against the meat. I was a bit surprised the sprouts were cold, although there was a salad-type element to the dish. The apple vinegar sauce was beautiful and pulled the elements together well. On the other side of the table, the soup was thick and creamy. It had a mint and hazlenut pesto swirled through it and my friend thought this was great. She was also appreciative of the placement of giant cheesy crouton on the side of the dish as it prevented it from becoming soggy. All in all a great course.

I had been excited about the spelt risotto. Don’t have the spelt version of this dish very often so I grab the opportunity when I see it on the menu. However, I ended up being a bit disappointed. The dish wasn’t bad, just a little one dimensional. I am not sure if there was a lack of seasoning or the sweetness of the beetroot crisps that adorned the risotto that may be responsible for that. The mushrooms didn’t feel very prevalent in the dish either. The spelt popped though, which was delightful and the crispy egg was spot on. On the other side of table, fish and chips were good. They came with two small dishes – one of mushy peas and the other of a tartare sauce (neither of which my friend really touched so could not comment on them). However, the chips were nicely done and almost felt like proper chip shop chips. The fish itself was good and the batter not to thick. However, the batter was a touch greasy but not overwhelmingly so.

So overall, the starters were definitely better than mains. The venue was nice and the staff were friendly and prompt.

Food – 7.5/10
Service – 9/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Value – 8/10

Overall – 31.5/40

Would I eat here again? Yes probably

Cost £45 for two starters, two mains and a glass of wine

Fillet Steak - Cote

Côte Brasserie

3rd March 2017 7.30pm

www.cote-restaurants.co.uk/cote/restaurant/details/edinburgh

Côte was bustling on our visit but this French Brasserie had a relaxed feel. We sat in the front part of the restaurant but the place goes back quite a long way, so the relatively small restaurant front is deceptive. Drinks were ordered and we decided what to eat. I went for the steak tartare (regular readers will not be surprised to hear) followed by the lamb shank with a side of carrots. My friends went for the beetroot salad followed by rib eye steak and the chicken liver parfait followed by a fillet steak.

Almost immediately we were given a pea soup, served in a small glass as an amuse bouche. This was a nice surprise. However, we had barely started eating these when our starters arrived, which was a bit odd. So we finished our soup whilst our starters were sitting in front of us. My tartare came with two nice pieces of bread and the tartare itself was a great texture and tasted good. The capers and cornichons were zingy. I would have preferred to have had the egg on top rather than mixed in though as somehow the richness that the yolk brings was a little lost. I was given Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce to put on my tartare too. I can’t make up my mind whether that was good so it could be adjusted to my preference or whether this was just because the chef couldn’t commit to how the tartare should taste. The beetroot salad looked beautiful and came with hazelnuts and a crème fraiche and goats cheese dressing. The parfait was going down a storm (my photo is too poor for this review). This came in a pot, with two slices of brioche and a spiced apple chutney. The only complaint that there was too much parfait to finish. It was certainly a starter I had a little envy over.

Onto the mains. One steak has been ordered with peppercorn sauce and one with béarnaise but it turned out that both arrived with peppercorn sauce (luckily in a tiny jug). When we asked the waiter to fix this he found out that the kitchen had run out of béarnaise. This is a little worrying as the sauce has a simple ingredient list so they shouldn’t run out. Additionally, why didn’t the kitchen communicate this to the waiter at the time of ordering? My friend had the option of changing her sauce for another but in the end decided to stick with the peppercorn. My side order of carrots also had to be chased. Our waiter was good and ran around for us but it seemed not to be his fault. Anyway, once we finally got to eating our mains, we really enjoyed them. My lamb shank was tender and fell off the bone. The accompanying mustard potato purée was nice although perhaps a smidgen salty for my palate but I would imagine would be fine for most people. The veal and rosemary sauce was delicious. The carrots were worth waiting for as they had beautiful flavour and still had a lovely firmness about them. The steaks around the table were being thoroughly enjoyed. They both came with salad and frites. Plates were emptied as happy noises emanated from the two of them.

Cote Brasserie

Cote Brasserie

We couldn’t fit in dessert so stuck to coffees and liqueurs. The bill came with an automatic tip on which was a little cheeky considering there was only three of us.

Côte was generally nice but needs to pull its socks up if it’s going to do well in such a competitive dining market.

Food – 7.5/ 10
Service – 6.5/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Value – 7/10

Overall – 29/40

Would I eat here again? Maybe but I am going to definitely leave it for a while

Cost £150 for three starters and mains, a glass of champagne, a glass of blanc de blancs brut, a vodka and cranberry juice, one bottle of red wine, two espressos, two baileys and a Drambuie. This includes an automatic tip

Taisteal

Taisteal

22nd February 2017 6.30pm

www.taisteal.co.uk

I had been disappointed that a diary clash meant I couldn’t make it along to the Taisteal launch. I was even jealous by the time I saw photos and reviews from fellow foodies appearing. So Taisteal (meaning journey or travel), was bumped up my list. Situated in Stockbridge, the restaurant was a little quiet but on a Wednesday night for a newly opened premises it is to be expected. The atmosphere was relaxing and the décor was soothing. We were given some popcorn whilst we perused the menus. I was saddened to see that the sweetbreads I had seen on a previous menu were no longer there but that’s what happens with a menu that tries to stay fresh. On the plus side, that meant I could delve into the phenomenally excellent value early evening menu. £10 for two courses is not to be scoffed at, particularly with this standard of food. I went for the venison tartare to start, followed by hake. My two dining companions went for the tartare and pork belly with jambalaya and the soup of the day also followed by the pork.

We were given warm bread with a dill butter whilst we waited for our starters. Bonus points for the butter being soft! The starters, when brought to the table, were beautifully presented. The venison tartare glistened under a showering of black and white sesame seeds. Unusually for a tartare, it was interspersed with olives but this was a pleasant combination. Accompanied by a gin mayo and some toasted bread, this was a delicate but punchy starter. My friend who opted for the soup had a delicious bowl of carrot and star anise soup which came with a spring roll. She really enjoyed the flavour of the soup and the roll elevated it. We were all very satisfied with this course.

The mains looked equally as stunning. My hake sat atop two small potato fondants, which I thought might be too heavy but were far from it. The hake was cooked to perfection. The plate was also scattered with mussels and golden raisins, the latter of which I was uncertain about upon ordering but again was pleased to see how its sweetness brought another level to the dish. They also worked well with the curried cauliflower which I thought was exceptional. The whole dish was brought together by a delightful sauce. My friends who were tucking into the pork belly and jambalaya were also enjoying their dish. It was vibrant and the slow roasted pork belly was done well.

We decided to go for two desserts between the three of us. I had chosen a lemongrass parfait with honeycomb and honey ice cream. The other dessert was a passion fruit mousse with a mojito sorbet. The parfait was silky smooth and surprisingly light. It’s coating added plenty of texture and the flavour was beautiful. The ice cream was velvety and worked well with the other flavours. The mousse on the other side of the table was a little more like a cheesecake as it was sat on a base. The passion fruit flavour was very subtle and overpowered a little by the wonderfully in your face sorbet.The little meringues on top were delightful though.

We enjoyed our visit to Taisteal and look for reward to trying more delights as they start to establish themselves.

Food 8.5/10
Service – 8/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Value – 10/10

Overall – 34.5/40

Would I eat here again? Oh yes!

Cost £38 for three starters, three mains and two desserts

Rump Steak - Shebeen

Shebeen – Dalry

7th February 2017 6.15pm

www.shebeenbar.co.uk

We were actually booked into the Morrison St branch but a call just over an hour before our booking confirmed an issue with gas and the grill and they offered to move us to the Dalry Road branch, which didn’t pose too much of a problem. It was a dreich night and as a result the restaurant was a little chilly. However, the restaurant braced it’s South African roots with décor and music to buoy you. I had been recommended Shebeen a couple of times for its steaks, so I had to choose a steak. Shebeen offers a variety of steaks – rump and sirloin are available in ‘cheetah’ size (up to 480g) and ‘lion’ (over 500g) and then when available, t-bone and rib-eye are also options. I went for the cheetah sized beef rump and ordered monkey gland sauce on the side. My friend went for the rack of ribs. We both chose calamari for our starters.

Shebeen

Shebeen

The calamari came out very quickly. Served in a bucket on a plate with side salad and a sweet chilli mayo, it looked nice but meant having to lift the big bits of calamari out onto the plate to cut. The calamari was covered in a nice herby batter. It was just a shame it didn’t actually stay on the calamari. The seafood itself was a touch rubbery, which was a shame but it wasn’t as far as making it inedible. We kept our fingers crossed that the mains would be a bit better.

Calamari - Shebeen

Calamari – Shebeen

The mains came out and whilst we knew the portions would be big, we were still stunned with the size on arrival. My steak was verging on 2 inches thick (the photo doesn’t do it justice). Cooked exactly as I requested it – rare – and coated with their own special rub which was tasty. The steak was served with a small number of chunky chips (when I say small, I mean 4, but they were huge), mushroom, onion rings and a side salad. This was a hearty plate of food. The monkey gland sauce consisted of onion, garlic, smoked paprika, mango chutney, chilli, Worcestershire sauce and port, which was sweet but delicious. The whole dish was full of flavour and I have to comment on how tasty that mushroom was, even if it wasn’t the star of the dish. This was a good course. On the other side of the table, the ribs came with the same accompaniments, even though it hadn’t be advertised as such on the menu. There was lots of meat on the ribs and the flavour was excellent. She sung the meat’s praises. Sadly due to the volume she couldn’t eat much else on the plate but she enjoyed what she had.

As we were, unsurprisingly, too full to finish everything we had to pass on desserts, which was a shame as I had been eyeing up the peppermint crisp tart.

Overall Shebeen is good. A little costly, particularly the starters (£7.50 for the calamari) but the mains are probably worth it.

Food – 7.5/10
Service – 8/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Value – 7/10

Overall – 29.5/40

Would I eat here again? Maybe

Cost £55 for two starters, mains and diet cokes

Skirt Steak Tartare - New Chapter

New Chapter

27th January 2017 6pm

http://newchapterrestaurant.co.uk/

Nestled just off the foot of Dundas Street, New Chapter is a modern restaurant that still manages to have a homely feel with the aroma of lilies, perched on the bar, permeating the air. We were warmly welcomed and were offered a choice of tables. We picked one by the window and got settled. Offering modern Scottish cuisine, both of us could have eaten pretty much everything on the menu but at the same time, I made up my mind quite quickly. I picked the skirt steak tartare followed by stone bass. My dining companion picked the Parmesan soup followed by a fillet of hake. We were also introduced to our waiter for the evening, a 16 year old French work experience student wanting to practice English. He was very good and we wouldn’t have known he was in this position as he provided great service. We were given some bread with both some butter and a herby citrus dip, all of which was lovely.

The starters came out quickly and we were both impressed by the presentation. My tartare had lots of attention to detail, with capers, cornichons and other pickles adorning the meat, with a surprise beetroot crisp which packed in so much flavour. Alongside all this was a full quails egg, sliced in half. This was unusual as it’s usually just the yolk on a tartare. The tartare itself was zingy and creamy. I enjoyed it a great deal. The Parmesan soup on the other side of the table was not too overpowering and had a really tasty flavour. The additional mushrooms and artichoke gave it a bit of variety.

We both had fish for our main course and I have to say I was enraptured with every mouthful of mine. The fish was cooked perfectly. The gnocchi was generous and the lemony flavour with the beurre blanc was absolutely divine. The sea kale was lovely too. I almost inhaled the dish. On the other side of the table, the hake was ok, with the squid ink pasta and sea vegetables being enjoyed. It was a shame that the mussels didn’t all open fully. The shellfish broth it sat in was good though and she scooped it all up with her spoon.

The portion sizes were a suitable amount to leave space for dessert. I knew instantly that I was going to try the warm chocolate mousse with chocolate orange ice cream. My friend stuck just to having ice cream. My dessert was never going to be a looker but they managed to still make it enticing enough to want to dive in. The mousse was scrumptious, with bits of cake, honeycomb and meringue in it too. The ice cream was a delicately small scoop but had beautiful flavour. A really satisfying dessert. My friend chose three small scoops of ice cream, picking raspberry, pistachio and crème brûlée flavours. It had honeycomb and caramel sauce on top. She though the flavours were great and the only negative she could say was that she would have called the raspberry one a raspberry ripple instead!

We really enjoyed our dinner here and I, in particular, was suitably impressed. The atmosphere and service were great and is well worth a visit

Food – 9/10
Service – 9/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Value – 9/10

Overall – 35/40

Would I eat here again? In a heart beat

Cost £64 for two three course meals plus one large glass of wine.

Pork Bun Combo Meal - Ninja Kitchen

Ninja Kitchen

24th January 2017 6pm

http://ninjakitchenedin.com/

Itison vouchers come in handy during January. We had purchased one for Ninja Kitchen in December so were pleased to get to use it in what can be a ‘poor’ month. Ninja Kitchen can be found in Bourbon on Frederick Street and is situated in a basement. This place has a relaxed feel. Our table was reserved so we got seated and started pouring over the options we had in the deal, which included a combo meal and a cocktail each. All orders for food are filled in on a little paper order form. We were advised by our server that the beef was out and that as the meals are on the smaller side we might want to consider adding some additional plates. We were disappointed that the beef was off as one of us would have definitely chosen it. However the combo meal allows for a steamed bun, fries and a slaw. I went for the pork bun with salted fries and peanut slaw. My friend decided to try the fish finger steamed bun with chilli-garlic fries and an Asian slaw. We also got some additional chicken skewers and ordered our cocktails. There were some interesting other flavour options (such as wasabi-orange fries) which we didn’t go for this time but are certainly intriguing.

The combo meals arrived in a basket, with the bun and fries and a little dish of the slaw balanced on top. The buns were nice. The steamed buns were wonderfully soft. However, I think the pork was a little dry with not enough hoisin for my liking but the pickle was crunchy and the peanut dust was tasty. This complemented the peanut slaw I chose, which was sublime and I could have eaten a massive bowlful of it. The fries were also of an excellent quality. On the other side of the table the fish finger bun was a surprise hit. She had ordered it as she thought it was worth trying something that felt a little random. The chilli-garlic fries had a good kick and afterburn but were delicious. The slaw was also good. The chicken skewers were moist and tasty but it was difficult to use the dip with the skewers.

We went for the deep fried bun with ice cream for dessert. I actually opted for a coconut and lime sorbet rather than an ice cream, and my friend went for a chilli chocolate ice cream. The deep fried buns were quite sugary but nice; my friend likening them to yum yums. The sorbet and ice cream were both excellent. With good, intense flavours.

The service in Ninja Kitchen, whilst friendly, was a bit slow. However, the food was good and we enjoyed the experience. We even got a bourbon biscuit with our bill. Recommended for lunch or a bite to eat with drinks in the evening.

Food – 8/10
Service – 7/10
Atmosphere – 7.5/10
Value – 8/10

Overall – 30.5/40

Would I eat here again? Yes, I think so.

Cost £15 for the deal (usually £30) plus £15 for the chicken plus the two desserts.