Hake - Lovage

Lovage

18th May 2017 6pm

http://lovagerestaurant.co.uk/

Lovage is quietly situated just off the Royal Mile on St Mary’s Street. Lovage’s menu is relatively short but offers some exciting delights, leaving both my dining companion and I undecided about which options to go for. In the end, I chose the salmon to start followed by the hake. My friend opted for the pork belly followed by the parmesan risotto.

Whilst we were waiting for our starters to arrive, we were brought some gorgeous warmed bread which we virtually inhaled. The starters followed shortly after and were beautifully presented. My dish was 37 degrees Celsius Scottish salmon, served with a sweet chilli sauce, celeriac and a lemon crust. The salmon was absolutely beautiful. It separated easily and the sauces complemented without being overpowering. There was even a scatting of samphire, which was a bonus as I love it. The dish managed to be light but with substance. On the other side of the table, the pork belly was also going down well. This was accompanied with an unusual choice of rhubarb but worked well. The plate also consisted of potato puree, cumin jus and cavolo nero. All the elements were harmonious. The only complaint was that the dish made it a little difficult to eat as all the ingredients were served in the small well in the centre of the plate. On the plus side, this did ensure that she ate all the ingredients together, which meant she probably experienced the dish at its optimal level.

The mains continued with the superb level of presentation. My hake sat in a vivid green pea soup, with asparagus, confit potatoes, a hollandaise sauce and some lemon crème fraiche. The fish was cooked to perfection, flaking effortlessly. The pea soup packed in some strong flavour, with both the hollandaise and crème fraiche adding further dimensions. This was a thoroughly pleasing plate of food. On the other side of the table, the parmesan risotto looked good. The top was scattered with mushrooms and walnuts, which helped give the risotto additional textures (as a bowl of plain risotto can become a bit too same-y). The truffle oil also added some luxury. For those who are vegetarian, they can make this a vegetarian dish for you if you were interested in.

My friend sacrificed some of her risotto in order to fit in dessert (I had no such problem in scoffing my chops with the fish). I went for the chocolate cremeux and my dining companion chose the strawberry cheesecake. Again, these were both lovely looking plates of food. My cremeux made a good crunch on top as I broke into it, with my spoon then sliding down through a creamy layer to reach a delicious chocolate sponge. Each layer was as tasty as the next. Alongside the cremeux was a smooth banana ice cream. I am not usually a big fan of banana flavoured things but this really worked, particularly as there were also orange segments and gels dotted on the plate. This resulted in a very balanced dish. My friend also enjoyed her strawberry cheesecake. The cheesecake had a layer of strawberry jelly on top and was accompanied by black pepper meringue (which she loved) and a basil sorbet (which she was less keen on as it was a bit too overpowering in basil flavour). I have to say I tried a bit of the sorbet and thought it would be a really nice starter with some tomatoes and cheese.

Overall, Lovage produced some top notch food. The vibe in the restaurant was relaxed, with a jazz playlist playing soothingly in the background. It is certainly worth a visit.

Food – 9/10
Service – 8/10
Atmosphere – 8.5/10
Value – 8/10

Overall – 33.5/40

Would I eat here again? Definitely

Cost – £78 for two lots of three courses plus one large and one small glass of wine.

La Petite Mort

La Petite Mort

4th May 2017 7pm

www.lapetitemortedinburgh.co.uk

Several of my friends and I had been eyeing up La Petite Mort for some time. Situated in Tollcross, handily around the corner from the Kings Theatre, La Petite Mort, from the outside, is an understated affair but on the inside feels more grand in its own way. The menu isn’t long but is varied enough that everyone should find something they like (or like me, want absolutely everything on the menu). I opted for the crab mascarpone and chive parcels, followed by sun dried tomato crusted cod fillet. Around the table, others chose the assiette of beetroot and the leek wrapped duck for their starters, and selected roast rump of lamb, roast pork belly and open veg pie for their mains. Our host/waiter for the evening was excellent, coping with our enthusiasm with grace and humour. We also ordered a round of cocktails which were divine and very reasonably priced.

Our starters all looked very elegant on arrival. My crab mascarpone and chive parcel was actually singular rather than the plural advertised but was of a good size. The flavour was fresh but mildly tainted by a little bit of crab shell, which was the only downside I encountered. The breaded quails egg was beautiful, with the yolk rich and runny. I adored the crayfish popcorn, which was not greasy in the slightest and still allowed the crayfish to sing. The radish salad was accompanied by a pretty saffron mayo which brought the whole dish together. Another friend who also had this dish had nothing but praise for it. Around the table, the beetroot dish was also producing smiling faces. The beetroot was given a multitude of treatments by the chef and accompanied by some delicious goats cheese. The leek wrapped duck was a terrine, which had a port and prune puree dotted along the side for some moistness. This dish had great flavour. All in all, a successful round of food.

The mains came out quite quickly after the starters. There was no doubt that the roast pork belly was the most visually impressive dish. It was probably the largest of all the mains too. However, firstly, apologies that the photo I took of my cod did not turn out, so I will do my best to describe it well. The fish itself was perfectly cooked and flaked effortlessly. On top of the fish was a vivid sun dried tomato crust, which complemented the fish well. The fish sat on top of a sweet potato fondant, which melted in the mouth. There was also a black sesame sphere, which had a mouse like consistency and coated with the elegant seeds. This was sat atop some delicious greenery. The dish was light and elegant without being too fussy. Next to me, a friend was tucking into the open veg pie. She excitedly got stuck into the beetroot, spring onions, roasted carrots and artichoke that sat underneath a puff pastry crust, which was cut into two large triangles. The roast garlic mayo and pea puree topped it off nicely. A substantial vegetarian dish. Across the table, the lamb was beautifully cooked. The friend eating this dish really couldn’t fault it, describing it as ‘flavoursome’. The meat had a pink glow to it and sat atop butternut puree and asparagus, with beetroot dauphinoise potatoes on the side. The mint jus was generous but at the same time not overwhelming the plate. Lastly, the remaining two diners were gorging themselves on the roast pork belly. The meat itself was a giant hunk which sat on a black pudding and basil mashed potato. The mash had really good taste and texture. Alongside the meat was a smoked pork collar croquette which the pair of them raved about. Neither of them could believe just how much flavour had been packed into the croquette. The greens were provided in the form of kale and the whole lot was topped with a honey and apple jus. The crackling really was made exceptionally well. You could hear the pair of them crunching on it. However, sadly one of them who had a slightly susceptible tooth managed to break said tooth on it. This did not deter her enjoyment of the dish but perhaps those with more delicate mouths might want to pick a different option. She still thought it was a cracking (!) dish. It did send us into a fit of hysterics though as we worked our way through similar puns, so apologies to any of the other diners we may have disrupted.

We had a little time to let our food go down before ordering desserts. All of us, except the less enthusiastic dessert eater, immediately went for the salted caramel baked alaska. The other friend felt she wouldn’t be able to fit in the cheese (although it really is at a reasonable price), so went for the slightly lighter passionfruit bavarois. The baked alaska was impressive on arrival. The meringue was superbly toasted, with a little dehydrated apple crisp placed at the top. The ice cream inside was still perfectly set and underneath was a small disc of sponge. This was all delicious. On the side was some heavenly honeycomb, which dissolved on the tongue. Some sauce and fruit scattered across the plate added balance. We all enjoyed this dish. The bavarois was also good, with small pieces of meringue placed around it. Next to the bavarois was a elderflower and summer berries jelly which was light and refreshing.

I think we all thoroughly enjoyed our meal, even if there were a couple of mishaps along the way. I think you’ll see from my scoring below that this is somewhere really quite lovely and very much worth a visit.

Food – 8.5/10
Service – 9.5/10
Atmosphere – 8.5/10
Value – 9.5/10

Overall – 36/40

Would I eat here again? Most definitely.

£216 for 5 starters, mains and desserts, 5 cocktails and two bottles of wine

Kitchin

Kitchin

10th December 2016 7pm

https://thekitchin.com/

A few of us get together every Christmas and have a lovely meal somewhere. We decided we wanted some Michelin starred goodness, so got ourselves along to Kitchin. I hadn’t been to Kitchin since it had it’s refurbishment and it have to say it’s looking lovely. On arrival our coats and bags (full of exchanged Christmas presents) were taken and we were given a key in exchange so we could collect everything quickly on our exit. We arrived a little early so we were shown to the bar area to have some drinks, nibbles and peruse the menu. The bar area was warm, with a fire going and the seating was sumptuous. We orders some cocktails and we’re given some crisp breads with a cheese dip. We even got some cute little pop out hand towels as one of the crisp breads had a sticky coating. The crispbreads were tasty but not too filling. Just enough to keep you going until you were eating at your table.

We were shown to our table, passing the kitchen (where you could see Tom Kitchin at the pass) to find ourselves pleasantly nestled in a nice corner. We had decided to choose the seasonal tasting menu and immediately started salivating. Whilst we waited for our first course to come out, we were presented with little maps showing where food from the menu was sourced. We also had a small loaf of bread for the table to share. This was light, with a superb crust. When we tore it open, steam rose up and the butter melted perfectly on the soft bread. There was a small problem of the lace on the sleeves of my dress catching on the place mats – they need to sort that out!

Cold Carrot Veloute - Kitchin

Cold Carrot Veloute – Kitchin

Firstly we were given our amuse bouche, which was cold carrot veloute with ginger, lime and apple, with delicately small pieces of vegetables scattered on the top. I love a veloute but had never had a cold one. I am pleased to report that it was delicious. You could taste every element; nothing was lost. A great start.

Mackerel Tartare - Kitchin

Mackerel Tartare – Kitchin

Then we moved onto mackerel tartare with winkles, brown shrimp, seaweed and croutons. This was a strong flavoured dish, which may not be to everyone’s taste but we lapped it up. They cleverly used the seaweed to help season the dish. Everything on the plate was miniature, including the incredibly tiny croutons. Around the outer rim of the dish was ice, to keep the fish at a cool temperature. It served as an attractive setting too. A solid dish.

Sweetbreads - Kitchin

Sweetbreads – Kitchin

Then, I was excited to see the next dish was sweetbread. I had sweetbreads a few years ago at Kitchin and had not had the opportunity to have them again since. They were absolutely divine (and a highlight for me). Alongside the sweetbreads were ox cheek, bone marrow, onion, onion purée, assorted nuts and veal jus. Every element on this dish sung. The bone marrow melted on the tongue. The onion elements brought everything together. It was just a shame the serving size meant I couldn’t savour it for long, but needs must on a tasting menu.

Seabass - Kitchin

Seabass – Kitchin

Next, we moved onto the fish course of sea bass, cauliflower purée, cauliflower florets, mussel, shrimp and an emulsion of vegetables, wine and butter. This was beautifully plated. The fish was cooked to perfection, flaking easily. The purée and emulsion worked together very well and unified the dish.

Hare - Kitchin

Hare – Kitchin

We then had hare with hare cannelloni, beetroot, beetroot purée, root vegetable purée, apples, carrot, sprout and topped off with a hare sauce. I’d not had hare before and I think was closer than venison that rabbit. It had a wonderful gamey flavour. The cannelloni was nice, using more hare as part of the filling. The vegetables and purée added a lovely complimentary flavour.

Blackcurrant Sorbet - Kitchin

Blackcurrant Sorbet – Kitchin

We then had a palate cleansing pre-dessert of blackcurrant sorbet, yoghurt mousse, homemade granola and apple and blackcurrant compote. The flavour of the sorbet was very strong and sharp. However, the yoghurt mousse balanced it out perfectly. The crunch of granola added enough texture.

Plum Crumble Souffle - Kitchin

Plum Crumble Souffle – Kitchin

Our final course – dessert – was plum crumble soufflé with vanilla ice cream. This was amazingly light. There was rise above the rim of the dish, which is always pleasing to see. The plum compote was lovely, not being too sweet or too sharp. The accompanying vanilla ice cream was just the right consistency and worked well with the soufflé.

Petit Fours - Kitchin

Petit Fours – Kitchin

We had tea and petit fours and then departed, feeling very satisfied.

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

Overall – 39.5/40

Would I eat here again? Yes, as soon as the bank balance will allow!

Cost just over £330 for three tasting menus, three cocktails and a bottle of wine.

Sea Bass - Bistro Du Vin

Bistro at Hotel Du Vin

15th November 2016 12noon

www.hotelduvin.com/locations/edinburgh/bistro

Bistro Du Vin

A colleague and I decided to be a little extravagant at lunchtime and visited the Bistro within Hotel Du Vin. The place was empty so we were shown to a window table (which also was a very generous sized table for two). We had the choice of the a la carte menu or the fixed price menu. The fixed price menu had several varied options so we went for that. We even managed to order the same dishes of smoked mackerel to start followed by sea bass. We also eyed up the desserts, hoping we’d have enough room later to fit one in.

Mackerel - Bistro Du Vin

The starters arrived in a timely manner. The mackerel was cooked well and was intermingled with beetroot, carrot and a drizzling of sour cream. The mackerel was supposed to be tea smoked, which I didn’t overly notice whilst eating but it wasn’t a detriment to the dish. However, overall, the dish was very pleasant and a good start to the meal.

Sea Bass - Bistro Du Vin

Onto the sea bass. This was stunningly presented – simple but impressive. The fish was cooked perfectly. It came with a panzanella salad of hunks of fried bread, tomatoes, peppers, capers and then finished with a nasturtium pesto. This was absolutely delicious, fresh-tasting and satisfying. Every element worked perfectly in harmony.

Ile Flottante - Bistro Du Vin

We were tempted by the desserts (no surprise) but if you are a cheese lover, you’ll be pleased to know that there is a cheese option for dessert at no extra cost. We both opted for the Ile Flottante (floating island). When they brought it out, I was surprised to see it sitting in a large Pyrex bowl. This wasn’t the sophistication we’d experienced in the earlier courses. Sitting atop a wooden block did not improve the presentation either. Odd. Anyway, regardless, the dessert was lovely. It was rather large but the custard was thick and full of a beautiful vanilla taste. The meringue was sticky but moreish. The toffee sauce probably wasn’t needed as it probably pushed the dish into the sickly realm but that didn’t stop either of us polishing it off.

Generally very nice food is served here. Just a few tweaks are needed for it to be excellent.

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

Overall – 32/40

Would I eat here again? Yes, the lunch deal is good.

Cost around £50 for three course fixed menu for two plus a glass of the house champagne

Sirloin and Oxtail - Atelier

Atelier

NOW CLOSED

12th November 2016 7pm

http://theatelierrestaurant.co.uk/

After sitting on my wish list for a while, we finally got to visit Atelier. A small-ish restaurant on Morrison Street, it has a cosy feel. After perusing the menus we decided to go with their 8 Moments Discovery Journey – essentially a tasting menu of 8 courses. A matched wines option is available but we decided not to go with that.

Atelier

Atelier

We started with some bread and then our amuse bouche of butternut squash with seeds arrived. This was full of flavour, velvety, of a cool-ish temperature with great texture added by the seeds. This was a lovely way to start the journey. In a way it was a bit of a shame it was an amuse bouche as I could have eaten much more of it.

Amuse Bouche - Atelier

Amuse Bouche – Atelier

The next course was sea trout. The fish was cooked at 37 degrees and was served with citrus salad, cucumber and wasabi crème fraiche. The trout was lovely and worked beautifully with the wasabi. The dish was cleverly balanced and danced on the palate. Although I was never going to be won over by cucumber (evil) my friend assured me it was good.

Sea Trout - Atelier

Sea Trout – Atelier

Onwards to the quail. This was roasted and served with sauerkraut, parsnip purée and a parsnip crisp. The quail, which can often be dry, was wonderfully moist and packed full of flavour. The sauerkraut was a surprisingly nice element and the parsnip had a lovely earthiness to it, which worked well with the scattered lardo. The crisp was a little soft but was only a minor misstep.

Quail - Atelier

Quail – Atelier

The next course was stone bass. This came with shellfish in a bisque, potatoes and kale. The fish was perfectly cooked and the prawns were juicy. The bisque has immense flavour but didn’t overpower the other elements on the plate. Everything was harmonious and a joy to eat. This was one of my friend’s favourite dishes of the evening.

Stone Bass - Atelier

Stone Bass – Atelier

Next up was sirloin and oxtail. Strips of pink sirloin were draped across truffled celeriac, with a small oxtail tartlet on the side, finished off with an architecturally placed spear of carrot. The meat was beautiful , so tender it melted in the mouth, and worked with the oxtail well. The celeriac was divine. A touch of crunchy kale, along with the carrot stopped the dish from tipping too far. My friend’s aversion to pink meat meant it was a struggle for her to look at but she actually enjoyed the dish very much. I am thinking of bringing a blindfold for her the next time she has to eat rare meat.

Sirloin and Oxtail - Atelier

Sirloin and Oxtail – Atelier

We then had the first of two desserts. The first was a roast apple parfait. This was a little firm but delighted my tastebuds. The parfait was accompanied by some very tart pieces of apple, shortbread, a sorbet and gin and tonic foam. It was a triumph of a dessert as the flavours worked together so well and kept each other in check.

Roast Apple Parfait - Atelier

Roast Apple Parfait – Atelier

The last course was another dessert – this time a bitter chocolate cake with a chocolate cremeux, caramelised white chocolate and a passion fruit and orange sorbet. My dining partner and I liked different elements of this dessert – she liking the less sweet elements and I loving the chocolate – but agreed when placed all together in our mouths, it just worked.

Bitter Chocolate Cake and Sorbet - Atelier

Bitter Chocolate Cake and Sorbet – Atelier

After finishing, we were given petit fours and my dining companion had cup of tea, which rounded off the evening well.

Petit Fours - Atelier

Petit Fours – Atelier

Texture was something Atelier revisited all the way through the courses which demonstrated that the menu was put together thoughtfully and upon reflection, was really something quite special. Atelier offers an incredible menu at a very reasonable price.

Food – 9.5/10
Service – 8.5/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Value – 9.5/10

Overall – 35.5/40

Would I eat here again? Yes, hopefully many times

Cost £115 for two 8 course tasting menus plus one glass of wine

Hake - Norn

Norn

15th October 2016 1pm

http://nornrestaurant.com/

I have been wanting to visit Norn ever since it opened in Leith, being made jealous by various friends who had been and loved it. So I was delighted when my friends and I could finally find a date we could all do lunch. The lunch is set at £20 for three courses (with an optional cheese course for a further £8). Each course has two options to choose from. For those of you thinking of an evening visit, they offer four and seven course options.

Between the three of us we managed to sample all the options but I could have eaten any of the dishes on the menu. The starters were mushrooms or haddock, the mains hake or chicken and dessert apple and pear or buttermilk and curd. We had some beautiful sourdough and butter to start us off, both created on site and the butter was at the perfect temperature to spread.

The first course came out and both dishes looked appetising. My mushrooms were sitting under a canopy of finely sliced turnip and a delicate scattering of cheese. An unusual combination on paper but was packed full of flavour and worked really well. No one element overpowered the other. The mushrooms were amazing and juicy. A very pleasing dish. The smoked haddock on the other side of the table was also going down a storm. The balance was strong again and the fish was cooked well.

My main was chicken with cabbage, barley and corn. The chicken was a generous portion and incredibly moist. The barley popped with taste and intermingled with the corn, made it quite moreish. I could have eaten that dish again and again. Next to me, my friend was tucking into the hake which I was eyeing with a touch of envy. The fish was deemed delicious and the accompanying cauliflower, kale and cobnuts worked in harmony to create an excellent dish.

The desserts then followed. There was a little mix up with two of the wrong dish being brought out but I was happy with either choice and didn’t want to waste food, so whilst I was going to have the apple and pear I tried the buttermilk and curds instead. The chef did offer to give me the other dessert as well to try but that was just being greedy so I declined but it was very nice that it was offered. In the end I loved what I was eating anyway. The accompanying orange and blueberries were beautiful mingling within the buttermilk. A simple yet clever dish. The apple and pear, with honey and walnut was also going down a treat, with an ice cream covering the top.

We all thoroughly enjoyed our meal. We weren’t stuffed at the end but pleasantly satisfied.

Food – 9.5/10
Service – 8.5/10
Atmosphere – 9/10
Value – 8/10

Overall – 35/40

Would I eat here again? Yes, without hesitation

Cost £104 for 3 three course meals plus three glasses of wine, a negroni and a vodka and lemonade.

Tomatoes, Chanterelles, Broad Beans and Leeks - Edinburgh Food Studio

Edinburgh Food Studio

22nd July 2016 8pm

www.edinburghfoodstudio.com

Edinburgh Food Studio

Edinburgh Food Studio

Edinburgh Food Studio is not like your normal restaurant. Set on Dalkeith Road, the Studio not only provides dinners but is a food research hub, which does tastings and workshops too. You should bear this in mind when you visit as the good you experience won’t be standard restaurant fare. The Studio is communal dining but we found that the two large tables were set to keep the separate groups slightly apart in case you aren’t so comfortable with that kind of experience. We certainly didn’t find any problems with it. I visited with my two fellow foodies Emma from Edinbug and Ann from A Quirky Lifestyle. We sat down for a seven course menu, which you do not see until arrival, written on a whiteboard in the restaurant. They accommodated for Emma’s vegan needs , which the restaurant were alerted to at the time of booking. You can also pair the courses with wine should you wish to.

Tomatoes, Chanterelles, Broad Beans and Leeks - Edinburgh Food Studio

Tomatoes, Chanterelles, Broad Beans and Leeks – Edinburgh Food Studio

So we started off with some bread and butter which was delicious. They were both homemade and the bread contained the heritage grain ‘rouge d’ecosse’. A good way to get the meal going. Not long after we were brought the first course; tomatoes, chanterelles, broad beans and leek. This was such a beautiful fish, both visually and through flavour. For me it was the best dish of the night. There were fresh and sun dried tomatoes and both were so intense in taste I couldn’t get enough of them. Us meat eaters had the addition of pork cracking on top to give a crunchy element. The food was most excellent.

Good King Henry, Gooseberries, Swede, Onion and Pattypan - Edinburgh Food Studio

Good King Henry, Gooseberries, Swede, Onion and Pattypan – Edinburgh Food Studio

The next dish was Good King Henry, gooseberries, swede, onion and pattypan squash. There were some bitter notes to this that I think my palate struggled with but generally it was a nice dish. The squash added some heftier weight to the dish with the other lighter elements. The swede was fermented which gave it an unusual taste.

Monkfish - Edinburgh Food Studio

Monkfish – Edinburgh Food Studio

Next up was monkfish with beach herbs and new potatoes. This was a delightful dish which used traditional oat as a crumb too for the fish. Everything was cooked to perfection. Again one of the beach herbs was a little too bitter for my palate but some of the others were delicious. The fish was replaced by some grain balls (I cannot remember what precisely was in them) for Emma.

Sika Deer - Edinburgh Food Studio

Sika Deer – Edinburgh Food Studio

The next course was Sika deer with blueberries, piccalilli and a forager’s salad. Emma got some pumpkin seed type skirlie risotto instead of the meat. The deer was beautifully cooked. The blueberries complimented the meat well. The piccalilli gave a tart element to the dish. Again, I found I didn’t get on with all the leaves in the salad. This time I found some of the leaves almost mint or pine like which I didn’t think worked with the rest of the dish.

Cherry and wood aven - Edinburgh Food Studio

Cherry and wood aven – Edinburgh Food Studio

We then moved onto the desserts. First up was a cherry granita with wood avens custard. The granita was quite tart but was balanced out well by the thin custard. Sadly Emma didn’t get any alternative to the custard so found the granita too much on its own.

Sheep yoghurt, rose petal, heather honey and raspberries - Edinburgh Food Studio

Sheep yoghurt, rose petal, heather honey and raspberries – Edinburgh Food Studio

Then  we were presented with sheep yoghurt, rose petal, heather honey and raspberries. This was essentially ice cream, raspberries and wafer (Emma had no wafer and got a sorbet instead of the ice cream). I enjoyed this dish. The raspberries in particular were full of zing. The wafer was a little soft but had a lovely honey taste.

Seabuckthorn and spruce - Edinburgh Food Studio

Seabuckthorn and spruce – Edinburgh Food Studio

Lastly we had a seabuckthorn and spruce type jelly cube. This was incredibly tart, as expected with the seabuckthorn, but shockingly so on the first bite. Definitely an acquired taste.

Edinburgh Food Studio showed some great skills and thought about the food. The food can challenge you at times but that’s not always a bad thing.

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

Overall – 31/40

Would I eat here again? Maybe in a different season to see what produce they use.

Cost £119 for 3 x 7 course menu plus two aperitifs.