Brisket Flatbread - Empress

Empress

1st December 2016 5.45pm

www.facebook.com/theempressedinburgh

Newly opened on Broughton Street from the owners of Jeremiah Tap, the Empress has opened on the site of the old Mathers bar. The menu is relatively varied, with burgers, flatbreads and salads. Unfortunately we were informed anything with salmon, venison and squid was off, which was a shame as I had been eyeing up dishes with these in but I guess they are the fresh elements where availability could vary. In the end, we went for the Scotch bon bons, buffalo hot wings and Empress ribs for starters and for main, two of us went for the brisket flatbread (I went for a large as I am a pig) and the last of the three of us went for a twisted fire starter burger. On top of this we decided to get an extra side of paprika halloumi fries to share. We also got our first round of very delicious cocktails in.

Wings, Ribs and Bon Bons - Empress

Wings, Ribs and Bon Bons – Empress

We waited a little while for our starters but they were worth the wait. The bon bons had a lovely flavour, being a mix of haggis and black pudding, which seemed to give them a more substantial taste. The accompanying chilli and whisky jam complemented well. The buffalo hot wings had a really tasty hot sauce on them and had a decent amount of meat on the bones. I’m not a fan of blue cheese so avoided the dip but my dining companions raved about it, saying it was almost like a blue cheese béchamel. A massive thumbs up for this. The ribs had a nice barbecue glaze and were still juicy.

Again, we waited a while until the food came out of the kitchen. The flatbreads looked and smelt amazing. Tucking in, we weren’t disappointed. The meat was great and plentiful. The crispy onions added a wonderful textural element. The barbecue sauce and the mozzarella topped it off nicely. The only downside was that the bottom of the flatbread was perhaps a touch over (but then I’m not a huge fan of charcoal flavours). The burger also was going down well. Accompanied by a slaw and fries, this was generous portion. The paprika halloumi fries were definitely the hit of the meal though. I really couldn’t get enough of them and I think I’d order a smaller plate of food so I could eat more of them!

As long as you are not in a hurry, this is a nice place to go.

Food – 8.5/10
Service – 7/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Value – 8.5/10

Overall – 32/40

Would I eat here again? Definitely

Cost £92 for three starters, three mains, one side, five cocktails and a mini bottle of prosecco.

Badger & Co

Badger & Co

22nd November 2016 7pm

www.badgerandco.com

Badger & Co

Badger and Co

Badger & Co is situated on Castle Street on the former home of Kenneth Grahame of Wind in the Willows fame (hence the name and quirky animal related décor). I had already visited a couple of times for drinks but this time we popped along to try out the food. The menu had plenty of options that were tempting and in the end I went for grilled scallop and apple black pudding followed by crispy Parmesan gnocchi. My dining partner went for chicken and chorizo croquettes followed by curried battered haddock and chips. Whilst waiting for the food I sipped on a delicious cocktail whilst my friend had a lovely glass of red wine.

The starters arrived and we tucked in. I have to say these were some of the best cooked scallops I have ever had. The flavour was spot on and worked with the black pudding. The tomato confit, peppers and spring onion salad kept the dish light and fresh. I was seriously impressed. On the other side of the table, my friend was also happily munching on her croquettes. She had expected them to be a bit dry but they were incredibly moist and the watercress, roasted garlic and herb aioli was really good, albeit in a slightly short supply. A great course.

Onto the mains. My gnocchi looked good but when I cut into it, it didn’t appear to be gnocchi as I know it. It seemed to be more like a cross between sautéed potatoes and chip ends. It was still really tasty but not what I expected. The gnocchi came with pumpkin, chestnut and rocket pesto. They were good in both texture and flavour. My dining companion was given a massive piece of fish. She said that you could really taste the curry flavour in the batter which was good. The batter was a little thick in places though which wasn’t for her. The chips were excellent, as was the mustard tartare. She’s not a big fan of peas but thought the crushed peas were fine.

We had just enough room for dessert, so I went with the mango and lime parfait and my friend chose the upside down apple pie. On arrival my parfait didn’t look much but the flavour was delicious and the texture creamy. It came with a pineapple and chilli salsa. The chilli wasn’t overpowering at all and just added a subtle warmth. A couple of wafers added further texture. A very satisfying dessert. My friend’s apple pie wasn’t much to look at either but tasted great. It was a cross between a tarte tatin and an apple pie with. She enjoyed the dish, including the toffee sauce and ice cream.

Overall, we enjoyed the meal, although their real strength seems to be their starters.

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

Overall – 32/40

Would I eat here again? Yes, the starters are worth it.

Cost – the food was complimentary but would have cost £52 plus a further £14 for drinks.

Please note that whilst this meal was complimentary, views expressed are my own. Thanks to Lauren from Crimson Edge PR for inviting me.

Club Sandwich - Quay 84

Quay 84

NOW CLOSED

14th November 2016 6pm

https://en-gb.facebook.com/quay84edinburgh/

Another itison voucher brought us to Quay 84 in Leith. It was a bit quiet when we arrived – perfectly understandable early Monday evening, but it started to fill up a bit not long after we started eating. Although I imagine Quay 84 is primarily for drinks, there is still a nice little dining section with booths that we were directed to. The voucher entitled us to two courses and a cocktail each.

Quay 84

Quay 84

Quay 84 has a reasonable cocktail menu priced at the Edinburgh going rate. No cheap bargains here (although it certainly was with the voucher). The menu is short but sweet, with plenty to please everyone. We were informed the beef teriyaki wasn’t in the deal and the ricotta meatballs were sold out but even with that, there was enough to tempt. I went for coconut breaded king prawns to start followed by a steak sandwich and fries. My friend opted for haggis bites followed by a club sandwich.

When the starters were brought to our table, my prawn dish looked just the right size. Four juicy prawns with a side salad. I couldn’t really taste the coconut but that didn’t really take anything away from the dish. The side salad was nice but perhaps a little overrun with raw onion. On the other side of the table, the haggis ‘bites’ were more like haggis chunks and were very massive for a starter. That being said, she thoroughly enjoyed them.

The mains arrived and continued on the generous portion theme. My steak sandwich had plenty of meat in it, along with some onions. My friend had ordered the club sandwich mainly due to her intrigue over the inclusion of an egg. She was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked. She did need to eat it with a knife and fork as it was so big and sadly the tray it arrived in wasn’t conducive to that. Both sandwiches came with fries. It was a shame they had been pre-salted but I still gobbled them all up. Neither of us cleared our plates though as we had to admit defeat.

You will never go hungry at Quay 84. Worth popping in for a visit.

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

Overall – 31/40

Would I eat here again? Yes, if I was passing.

Cost – voucher £22 for two course meal and cocktail for two. True value closer to £46.

Southpour

10th June 2016 5.45pm

www.southpour.co.uk

I used to frequent this establishment when it was the Reverie, so was intrigued to see what had become of the place in new hands. I found it completely transformed on the inside. It almost had a New York warehouse apartment type feel, with lots of exposed brickwork, but it still had a warm feel.

Southpour

Southpour

Southpour has a nice, varied but not overly extensive menu (which is a good thing). We ordered a couple of cocktails which were lovely and then I chose one of the specials as a starter – chicken liver pate, followed by a chicken, leek and n’duja sausage pie with fries. My friend went for scotch egg for her starter followed by the same pie as me.

The starters arrived promptly and were simply presented but that somehow made them look even more tasty. My pate was wrapped with what was either Parma ham or prosciutto around its edge, which I’d never seen before. This was served with a red onion chutney, a handful of mini oatcakes and a small side salad. The pate was incredibly smooth and worked very well with the chutney. The salad was dressed really well which was a nice surprise. A decent start to the meal. On the other side of the table the scotch egg was being enjoyed. She particularly noted that the n’duja sausage had an excellent level of flavour. The only downside was that whilst she really liked the accompanying side salad, the dressing clashed a little with the scotch egg.

We had both ordered the same main and we were a little startled at the size of the pie as it seemed somewhat  gigantic on arrival. However, it was just a big puff pastry topping rather than a fully encased pie and a smaller amount of filling inside, so it was certainly more like the portion size we were expecting. The pie was excellent with beautiful flavours, moist chicken and a nice kick from the n’duja. The side of tender stem broccoli was beautifully seasoned. The fries weren’t fries but incredibly chunky chips, which was a little disappointing but they were nice enough.

Chicken pie - Southpour

Chicken pie – Southpour

Southpour offers a solid offering in pleasant surroundings.

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

Overall -32/40

Would I eat here again? Most likely

Cost £38 for two starters, mains and cocktails. We did have 25% voucher off food so true cost closer to £47

The Mad Hatter

26th April 2016 6pm

http://www.facebook.com/themadhatteredinburgh

I really didn’t know much about this place apart from that it was in the West End, I liked it’s name and that I’d seen a voucher deal so decided to give the place a go. The voucher was £20 for two starters, mains and two glasses of prosecco.

Mad Hatter

Mad Hatter

We had a table reserved in a snug corner with a sofa and a high backed arm chair. The Mad Hatter is a relatively small place but does have a cosy feel. The menu was extensive and offered a good range, although lacking somewhat in the dessert department with only one on offer (but it was sticky toffee pudding). I opted for Camembert to start followed by a steak sandwich for my main. My dining companion went for the duck spring rolls for starter and the same steak sandwich for main.

Baby Camembert - Mad Hatter

Baby Camembert – Mad Hatter

The starters arrived and we tucked in. I wasn’t expecting the Camembert to be breaded but this was fine and was still very delicious. The accompanying chutney was a perfect match. The rocket had a nice drizzle of balsamic over it. The portion size was generous, particularly for a starter, but at the same time was not over-facing. On the other side of the table the spring rolls were crispy which was a good sign but were deemed satisfactory rather than anything special, although she said the cucumber and dressing were tasty.

Duck spring rolls - Mad Hatter

Duck spring rolls – Mad Hatter

We had the same opinion of the main (we were eating the same thing). The steak sandwich and accompaniments were very ample. The ciabatta roll was skewered with a knife and the handle was covered in a stack of onion rings. Inside the ciabatta was plenty of steak, well seasoned and full of flavour, juicy mushrooms, beautifully cooked onions and oozy cheese over the top. The chips were chunky and had a nice crispy outer. However, it was a bit too much for either of us to finish after having a starter.

Steak Sandwich - Mad Hatter

Steak Sandwich – Mad Hatter

This was a pleasant meal and certainly filled up our bellies.

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

Overall – 31.5/40 

Would I eat here again? Probably

Cost £20 with voucher but true cost closer to £45.

The Mad Hatter Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Magnum

16th December 2015 1pm

 www.themagnumrestaurant.co.uk

We booked here for a team Christmas lunch/away afternoon for team building purposes. A couple of us had been meaning to try The Magnum for ages, so were looking forward to visiting. The Magnum is a nice venue and seemed bigger on the inside than it appeared on outside and is serenely decorated. We were all struggling to pick what to have from the menu as much of it sounded yummy. In the end as we had all eyed up the baked Camembert to share, we got two of those between the four of us. Then I went for the sausage of the day, which was lamb and thyme, another colleague went for tempura battered haddock and the other two went for the beef and rosemary burger. One of my colleagues had dithered on whether to get the burger as she was worried it would be big so asked the waitress for advice. She tried to describe it as best as possible to help her make a decision, which I thought was good service.

Camembert - The Magnum

Camembert – The Magnum

The Camembert arrived and was impressive. The cheese was studded with garlic and rosemary and none of us could wait to get our gnashers in. The accompanying ciabatta was plentiful so there was no real worry about running out. It would have been nice to have a bit more of the onion confit, particularly as we were sharing, but the whole lot was delicious. I am drooling just writing about it now. I would come back here for this course alone.

Sausage of the day - Magnum

Sausage of the day – Magnum

The mains came out in good time. My lamb and thyme sausages were delicious. They were cut in half lengthways which was a little odd but I didn’t really mind. The green beans still had some crunch and being wrapped in prosciutto was a nice touch. The mash was super buttery which was lovely and possibly some of the best I’ve had and the gravy brought it all together. The fish actually was two pieces, which was incredibly generous, but perhaps a little too much for lunch. The batter was light and the hand cut chips were crispy how she liked them. The broccoli and chilli salad was lacking a bit more chilli but was still good. The accompanying sweet lemon and gherkin aioli was really good but my colleague thought some extra pickles in it would make it sharper. The burger was bigger than described but was claimed by one colleague as possibly the best burger she has ever eaten.. The other colleague didn’t rave quite so much about it though, so it’s a preference thing I think. The relish was good and the meat juicy. The focaccia bun worked well but was filling.

We were all stuffed so abandoned idea of dessert but weren’t hurried out whilst some of the team finished their drinks and we did some team building chat. We had a good experience here and apart from a few minor niggles (the sauces that were offered at ordering didn’t appear until re-prompted and my colleague who ordered a Coke got a Diet Coke – but was offered a change) service was very good. We all left saying we’d be back again.

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

Overall – 33/40

Cost £98 for four starters, mains, a bottle of prosecco and two soft drinks.

The Magnum Bar & Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Copper Blossom

2nd December 2015 6pm

www.copperblossom.com

Copper Blossom

Copper Blossom

Copper Blossom is a stunningly beautiful bar. Some stuck in a stereotypical mind-set may call it ‘girly’ but regardless, it is right up my street. Adorned with pretty lighting outside, we welcomed into a gorgeous place full of warmth, hidden from the gazes of pedestrians on the street above. We were shown to our table. We had pre booked and had kindly been given a table for four for the two of us, which was a nice bonus, considering there were a fair few other patrons that evening.

Cocktails - Copper Blossom

Cocktails – Copper Blossom

Once seated, we were informed that one starter and one main were not available, which was a bit disappointing as not only was the main the one I would have chosen but there are only a small number of dishes in the first place so that left little choice, as there wasn’t a substitute offered for the missing dishes. Also we had arrived at 6pm so it is unlikely they should have run out. Anyway, ignoring that niggle, I went for chicken liver parfait followed by Parisian gnocchi. My dining partner for the evening went with cider braised pigs cheeks followed by chicken caesar salad. We also could not miss the opportunity to try a cocktail each. I opted for the Lady in Pink, which was a vodka, Chambord, apple juice combo and my friend went for a White Lady, which was gin, Cointreau, lemon and sugar. These arrived in a timely fashion, which is often rare for cocktails. Mine was nice. My friend pulled a face but that was just because hers was a bit sour but she actually liked it.

The first course came out. My parfait looked a little underwhelming and toasted brioche was burnt at edges. However, the dish as a whole tasted quite good and the side salad with pomegranate was a fun addition. On the other side of the table, the pigs cheeks were ok but bland and under seasoned. It was also not quite what she expected. It was a little bit of a disappointment.

The mains came as quickly as the starter plates were taken away. My main, gnocchi, was surprisingly luscious. I often don’t opt for a veggie choice but I didn’t miss the meat here one bit. The bed of pureed butternut squash, crispy shallot rings, kale and salsify worked in harmony with the gnocchi for a decent dish. My dining partner found the chicken salad light but generous on chicken portions, resulting in an enjoyable dish. We’d opted for an additional side of chips. These string fries were really good. However, I found the bloody mary ketchup a little harsh.

Sticky toffee pudding - Copper Blossom

Sticky toffee pudding – Copper Blossom

For dessert we both had sticky toffee pudding. It was nice, light but too big. My friend thought it was not really a proper sticky toffee pudding as it was ‘not toffee enough’. Ah well, I enjoyed it!

Copper Blossom is a great. The food is decent but I feel that it is still trying to find its feet, not knowing quite where to pitch itself. I would love an evening burger option (which was only available in the day) or just to have a fuller menu. I’d quite happily pop in again though.

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

Overall – 32.5/40

Cost – just over £60 for two cocktails and two three course meals.

Copper Blossom Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato