The Panty - Colinton

Hungry Herbivore at The Pantry (Colinton) – Mini Review

30th March 2018 7.30pm

www.thepantryedinburgh.co.uk

As regular readers of this blog will know, I am friends with Emma from Vegan Edinburgh and Ann from A Quirky Lifestyle. Emma had been invited along to the Hungry Herbivore supper club at The Pantry, so Ann and I thought we’d get ourselves tickets and keep her company. The Pantry have a number of venues across the capital now, but this supper club was at the Colinton branch, which is a beautiful building both inside and out. All the diners were sat communally around two long tables and the set menu for the evening was on each place setting, studded with a sprig of rosemary. I did look a bit odd sniffing my menu but I didn’t care.

The manager introduced us to the evening, which was vegetarian (with vegan adaptions already built into the menu). Almost all the paired wines were vegan too – and when they weren’t, a vegan wine was still provided as an alternative. We started the evening with some appetisers, which consisted of a trio of dips. There was beetroot hummus; chickpea, pumpkin and cumin; and butter bean and spinach. They were served on small pieces of seeded bread which were made in-house. As you can imagine, these had great colour and tasted yummy, but could have possibly done with a touch more seasoning.

Appetisers - The Pantry

Appetisers – The Pantry

The next course was creamy wild mushrooms with garlic and parsley, served on sourdough toast with a runny duck egg. The egg was not served on the vegan dish. This was a lush dish with the egg oozing beautifully over the mushrooms. The mushrooms managed to still feel substantial and carried a wonderful flavour as well as texture. Top notch.

Mushrooms on Toast - The Pantry

Mushrooms on Toast – The Pantry

We then moved onto the herby gnocchi as our main. This was probably my favourite of the courses. The gnocchi came with pesto, grilled courgettes, peas, pine nuts, pea shoots, fridge and radish. It was a truly spring dish and danced in my mouth with flavours. Again, I’d have liked a little more seasoning but it’s a minor quibble. The vegan offering had different pasta but otherwise had pretty much the same elements.

Dessert came in the form of a lemon and blueberry fool. This consisted of lemon curd, meringue, blueberry compote and whipped cream. This was a refreshing palate of flavours and finished the meal off nicely. Emma had a lovely hunk of orange cake, which she kindly let me try. It was light and zingy. She was exceedingly happy with her dessert.

We had fun at this evening and they are holding different themes at each supper club, so it’s worthwhile checking out their website for something that might take your fancy.

Cost £39 per person or £59 for two, including wine.

A cod and a prawn taco - Bodega

Bodega (Tollcross)

28th March 2018 6pm

www.ilovebodega.com

I’ve had Bodega recommended to me a couple of times and decided to give their Tollcross branch a whirl. With plenty of Mexican places popping up in the city, I wondered whether it would hold its own.

Margarita - Bodega

Margarita – Bodega

A smallish venue, we were warmly greeted and grabbed a table by the window. The menu is short but still manages to give you plenty of choice. Our friendly server recommended that we should have two different flavoured tacos each (each filling comes in two tacos) and then any starters and sides we fancied. We decided to go for one starter between us – the warm black bean and melted cheese dip – and then chose four tacos. We selected the carne asada steak, Vietnamese pork, tempura tiger prawns and baja cod bites. We also ordered the scallion fries as a side. We decided to get a couple of the incredible value margaritas at £5 a pop too.

Warm black bean and melted cheese dip - Bodega

Warm black bean and melted cheese dip – Bodega

A mildly spicy dip was brought to the table and shortly after the black bean dip followed with a generous bowl of tortilla chips. If you ignore the fact that black beans have a habit of getting stuck around your teeth, this was an excellent starter. The dip had a lovely depth and the cheese was harmonious with it. We scooped our way through this pretty quickly but it is a lot for one person so sharing is recommended unless you are really hungry.

Scallion Fries - Bodega

Scallion Fries – Bodega

Whilst we were waiting for the tacos, the scallion fries came out. Personally, these were the highlight of the meal. Long pieces of spring onion were lightly battered and came with a mustard dip. These were so moreish I could have eaten several bowls of them. I would also visit again just to eat these.

A cod and a prawn taco - Bodega

A cod and a prawn taco – Bodega

The tacos came out and we mixed and matched so the pair of us had one taco of each of the four fillings we had chosen. Each taco brought something different to the palate. My favourite was the carne asada steak taco. It was weighty and full of flavour The chipotle dressing and soured cream pulled it all together nicely. My friend chose the tiger prawn taco as her favourite. The prawns came with a slaw and a sesame-chilli dressing.

Whilst we were totally full already, we could not resist to allure of churros. So we ordered some to share between us. My friend used to live in Spain for a while, so has high standards when it comes to churros. These got the thumbs up, particularly praising the thickness of the accompanying chocolate sauce. I thought they were lush and easily scoffed my share. Goodness knows where I managed to put it though!

Churros - Bodega

Churros – Bodega

We had a great time at Bodega. The staff were friendly, the food was delicious and we are already planning to go back again.

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

Overall – 34/40

Would I eat here again? Yes, frequently

Cost £63 for one starter, four taco plates, one side, one dessert, three margaritas and a glass of wine

Pizza - @pizza

@pizza

20th March 2018 6.30pm

www.atpizza.com

Pizza is delicious. Pizza can be in your mouth much faster at @pizza with their miraculous speedy pizza cooking machine. Hidden a little just off Queensferry Street, @pizza is an urban, almost fast food, dining experience where you can choose how your pizza is constructed and have it cooked within a couple of minutes. If you find that a little daunting, they do have some standard combinations, ready designed, you can choose from instead. We formed an orderly queue at the toppings counter after having a look at the menu and getting an idea of how we would construct our pizzas. Firstly you get a choice of base, then the sauce, cheese and lastly your toppings. There are over 30 toppings and finishes you can have on your pizza, so you should be able to find the right combination to please your palate. I chose the sourdough base, the classic tomato sauce, mozzarella pearls, spicy sausage, roquito peppers, mushrooms and basil. My friend had many more toppings than me, which made me regret not being as adventurous but never mind. A short wait later and the pizzas were ready. We ordered drinks and paid and went to get stuck in.

@pizza

@pizza

The pizzas themselves are not round but oblong. They were cut before being handed over, so no need for cutlery. The toppings were great, although I wish I’d asked for more basil. The base was superb and we were really impressed on how well it was cooked after such a short time. It all tasted so fresh and satisfying. We were suitably impressed. Soft drinks are of the craft type so have nice, unusual flavours which include free refills. The wine came in a little sealed glass which was quite cute.

Pizza - @pizza

Pizza – @pizza

If you are looking to craft your own pizza, you can’t go wrong with @pizza with it’s choice and speed.

Food – 9/10
Service – 9/10
Atmosphere – 6/10
Value – 9/10

Overall – 33/40

Would I eat here again? Yes

Cost – voucher was £15 for two pizzas and a glass of wine or beer each (I substituted to a soft drink). Real cost likely around £27.

Vouno - Taxidi

Taxidi

14th March 2018 6pm

www.facebook.com/Taxidi-107882179904212

We had been recommended Taxidi from a colleague whose husband is Greek, so we took this as a serious endorsement. Situated on Brougham Place, Taxidi is a small, cosy and inviting venue. The menu is varied and has salads, classics and sharing plates. We decided to be brave and attempt the vouno mixed grill which is for 2-3 people. Our server double checked that we were sure, as it was a lot of food, but we gallantly continued with our order. We also ordered some tzatziki on the side to help it all slide down.

Vouno - Taxidi

Vouno – Taxidi

As the food came out, it became apparent that they weren’t wrong about the side of the mixed grill. It was so large that it came on its own little table-top table. Piled onto it were 2 souvlaki, 2 pork belly pieces, 2 sausages, 2 chicken thighs, 4 mpifteki, slaw and copious amounts of pitta and chips. All the meat had wonderful flavour and nothing was overcooked. The chicken, in particular, was very moist. The pitta bread was light in texture and the chips has some beautiful seasoning on them that really made them taste that little bit special. The slaw was not swimming in creamy sauce which was good. We used the tzatziki to provide that element. Whilst we were happily munching away, a couple of women on a table by the window had managed to set their menu on fire (how on earth they managed this I will never know) and seemed to be fanning the flames rather than actually putting it out. Luckily staff came to the rescue and put the fire out. After all that commotion, our server was apologetic for the disturbance but impressed to see we had demolished the mixed grill, even if we had left a few chips and pitta pieces behind. He offered to have that bagged up to take home but we felt it wouldn’t travel well so declined.

Orange Cake - Taxidi

Orange Cake – Taxidi

We were stuffed but my friend insisted on getting a slice of the orange cake for dessert, which she then made me help her eat. It wasn’t quite what she was expecting, with a slightly jelly like consistency on the outside but the centre of the cake was much better (apologies for the photo of the half eaten cake). Unsurprisingly though, we couldn’t finish the cake but my friend did take up the opportunity to bag it and take it home.

Taxidi is a nice little find and certainly worth investigating if you are wanting some Greek cuisine.

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

Overall – 32/40

Would I eat here again? Yup.

Cost £47 for tzatziki, vouno slice of orange cake and a glass of wine

Wings - Spatch

Spatch

7th March 2018 6pm

www.spatchchicken.co.uk

Spatch is situated in the heart of the Old Town on Hunter Square, just off the Royal Mile. Unsurprisingly, Spatch’s speciality is chicken. However, if it’s not your thing, they offer non-chicken options and a surprisingly decent amount of vegetarian offerings too. We happened to visit Spatch on a Wednesday, when they offer all you can eat wings and a beer for £12. Bargain! We decided to split what we ordered between us, so we chose the all you can eat wings with the sweet and spicy sauce (other options include sauces such as BBQ and nuclear hot), then we tactically chose the BBQ pork ribs as it came with a couple of sides which we wanted anyway (chips and a tequila and lime slaw). We got an extra side of hot BBQ beans.

The food arrived and it was saliva inducing. Firstly let’s focus on the chicken. We got 8 wings with our first portion. The sauce was smothering the wings but fear not, kitchen towel and hand wipes are on standby. The meat was succulent and came away from the bone easily. We were mightily impressed with how they were cooked and how the sauce built up in complexity and heat as you went. Lip smackingly good, I’d say. The ribs were also excellent. The meat fell off the bone and virtually melted in the mouth. Their signature BBQ sauce was sticky deliciousness. The tequila and lime slaw was a nice slaw but I could have coped with an upping of lime content. The chips were chunky and good for dipping in the sauces, although we did have a little bit of envy when we saw sweet potato fries being delivered to another table. The beans were a little bit of a let down. I think they would be better offering a stronger BBQ flavour or even trying burnt end beans as this would pack a better punch. That being said, they weren’t a disaster and we did eat them.

We decided not to top up on the wings (I know – controversial) and try dessert. There were only a small number of options. I chose the chocolate torte with orange sorbet and my friend chose apple crumble. We had a little wait before they came out but when they did, it was a tale of two halves. Mine was passable. The chocolate torte was rich and tasty. The sorbet took a bit of getting used too as the orange flavour almost had a clinical taste to it. However, on the other side of the table the crumble really looked like chunks of unbreakable biscuits sat on top of some nicely cooked apple. My friend even tried to break some of the biscuity type topping with her fingers but couldn’t. I am not sure a drill would have made it through. Some of it was closer to being burnt too. Disappointing after the joyous mains.

The staff were super friendly and helpful. We liked the environment so generally a positive experience.

Food – 7.5/10 (would have been higher excluding the dessert)
Service – 8/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Value – 8/10

Overall – 31.5/40

Would I eat here again? Yes but I’d give dessert a miss.

Cost £58 for ribs, unlimited wings deal, one side, two desserts and three diet cokes

Forage and Chatter

Forage and Chatter

22nd February 2018 6pm

www.forageandchatter.com

Forage and Chatter is a little hidden away on Alva Street but its pretty lighting points the way. In the location where Edinburgh Larder was, Forage and Chatter aim to provide excellent, locally sourced Scottish cuisine. We were warmly welcomed and led to the seated area at the raised back portion of the restaurant. Even with other diners seated in this area, the tables were spaced out well. The menu itself had lots of choice without being over facing and I settled on the onion tart to start, followed by aged beef sirloin. My dining companion chose langoustine bisque followed by monkfish. I was then presented with a selection of brightly coloured handled steak knives to pick from, which was an unusual but nice touch. Whilst we were waiting for our food, we were brought some fried dough balls with a mint pesto and a whipped yogurt butter with mushroom powder. These dough balls were delightfully warm. I preferred the butter option and my friend liked the pesto but both were excellent.

Dough Balls - Forage and Chatter

Dough Balls – Forage and Chatter

The starters followed shortly after and both were beautifully presented, although some of that was lost for the langoustine dish when the bisque was poured. My onion tart was not in the form of a traditional tart but in this case, that was not a bad thing. The varying textures of onion worked well on top of a pastry strip. The black garlic puree was outstanding and the small dollops of goats curd with herb oil nestled in small onion leaves was a graceful and clever touch. Across the table, the bisque was working its magic. The langoustines were complemented with mussels, leek and fennel. This dish managed to be hearty and delicate at the same time. We were very excited to see whether the high standard continued on to our mains.

The answer was yes – there was still an exceptionally high standard. I only have one negative, and it’s not my own personal negative but one I think other diners may have. I was told the beef would arrive medium rare. I like rare anyway, so this was not a problem. However, on arrival I would definitely say it was rare, which was great for me but may make others a bit twitchy. That aside, this dish was phenomenal. The meat was full of wonderful flavour. Alongside it was ox tongue, wild leeks, mushrooms, ramsons and persillade. Each element added an interesting dimension to the dish and made the entirety sing in my mouth. Across the table, the monkfish almost glowed with whiteness on top of a bed of puy lentils. Bacon, capers and parsley were mixed through the lentils. The fish was cooked to perfection and the whole dish worked in harmony. The attention to detail in putting these dishes together is clearly evident.

As the courses were reasonably sized, we actually had space for dessert. Again, the list made it incredibly difficult to choose as I wanted them all. I settled on the Vahlrona dark chocolate mousse and I wasn’t disappointed. The mousse was supplemented with malt ice cream, marshmallow and sable crumbs. The textures and tastes in this dessert were amazing. I oohed and aahhed all the way through eating it. I certainly found my happy place whilst eating it. Across the table, my friend had chosen my back up choice – apple, oat crumble with salted caramel ice cream and custard. She allowed me to try some of the ice cream and it definitely was exceptional. My friend doesn’t do desserts often and actually commented that she could have eaten that dessert all over again. High praise indeed.

We were mightily impressed with our dinner at Forage and Chatter. It is definitely worth visiting, and more than once.

Food – 9.5/10
Service – 10/10
Atmosphere – 9.5/10
Value – 9/10

Overall – 38/40

Would I eat here again? Yes, and possibly dream of it in the meantime

Cost £79 for two three course meals, a large glass of red wine and a raspberry gin with lemonade

Meat Sharing Platter - Herringbone

Herringbone

13th February 2018 7pm

www.theherringbone.co.uk

It was the birthday of a dear friend and occasional ‘Feasts dining companion, and she had chosen Herringbone for a low key birthday get together. Herringbone has two places, one in Goldenacre and one in North Berwick. We were at the Goldenacre branch, which has a nice corner location and large windows. The slightly mismatched chairs at our table meant we had to do a few seat swaps so the taller of us weren’t towering over the smaller in the group. All settled, we started drooling over the menu. There was plenty of choice and everyone was struggling to pin point exactly which dish to opt for. Half price cocktails are also available from a smaller list, Monday to Thursday, although the prices on the flyer were more expensive than those on the main menu. Presumably that is the full price charged rather than the cost at half price. In the end I was the only one having a cocktail and I picked from the main menu. We had already got a sharing platter voucher from Itison (with two glasses of wine), which we were going to use as a table starter, so we only needed to focus on mains. I went for the black pudding and chorizo salad. The rest of the table chose two salmon burgers, the rib-eye steak, the gourmet lamb burger special and the chickpea burger.

Meat Sharing Platter - Herringbone

Meat Sharing Platter – Herringbone

We had a little wait for the sharing platter but it eventually came out. We had selected the meat option (there was also a fish or veggie platter to choose from). This came with deli meats, bread, pate, chicken skewers, pork belly bites, rocket with peppers and olives. We were all very impressed with this platter. Once we got over the typical politeness of how we were going to share this between the six of us, we got munching and all got to try a bit of everything. The pate was the winner of the platter but shortly followed by the chicken skewers which were incredibly succulent.

Black pudding and chorizo salad - Herringbone

Black pudding and chorizo salad – Herringbone

We had a bit of a wait for our mains and they weren’t brought out completely together. However, once we got going, there were lots of satisfied noises emanating from the table. My black pudding and chorizo salad was a hearty portion, with plenty of meat but still enough salad to feel like you were making a small contribution to healthy eating. The salad consisted of salad leaves, onions and tomatoes, all of which were fresh and vibrant. The black pudding was in rather hefty chunks but resulted in a very generous portion and worked harmoniously with the chorizo. On top, were crispy onions, which added some further texture, along with two poached eggs, which oozed beautifully golden yolk across the dish. I couldn’t finish it (who ever normally says that about a salad?) which is testament to the weight of the dish. Around the table, the variety of burgers were getting the thumbs up. The salmon burger was particularly popular and the flavour in the chickpea burger was great – although the flatbread it came with was too crispy to wrap around anything. The steak was also of a good standard but what won everyone over were the chips. Wide but also thin, the chips had a good crispness to them.

Only a couple of the group went for dessert as most of us were stuffed. One friend chose ice cream and the other a cherry, liquorice and blackberry dessert. Both of these desserts were decent and provided a satisfactory end to the meal.

Overall, whilst the service was helpful it was often on the slow side. Herringbone was busy for a Tuesday but it was still a bit annoying to have a long wait. Additionally, it was lucky – as we’d had varying amounts – we were paying for our own meals rather than splitting the bill equally which meant we spotted that they charged us for the voucher including the wine and we had to ask to have this taken off. A very disappointing end to what was a fairly good meal.

Food – 8/10
Service – 6/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Value – 8/10

Overall – 30/40

Would I eat here again? Yes but not when I was in a hurry and I would always scrutinise the bill before paying.

Cost £152 for 6 mains, 2 desserts, 2 cocktails, 5 glasses of wine, 2 beers and a whisky. Additional £14.50 for the voucher for the sharing platter and 2 glasses of wine