Playfair Sharing Platter - Scottish Cafe and Restaurant

Scottish Cafe and Restaurant

29th July 2018 1pm

www.contini.com/scottish-cafe-and-restaurant

It had been a scorcher of a month but sadly the rain came. However, a trip to the Scottish Café and Restaurant, owned by the Contini family, brightened up our day. This café and restaurant is open only during the day and can be found nestled at the bottom of the National Gallery.

Scottish Cafe and Restaurant

Scottish Cafe and Restaurant

The summer menu offers a very reasonable two courses for £20 or three courses for £25, as well as sharing platters, brunch, roast and afternoon tea options. We ordered the Sunday roast and cullen skink but as this was a complimentary trip they kindly also laid on a sharing platter after we had ordered. This platter included the sandwich of the day, which was chicken, a whipped cheese and walnut dip, a salmon dip and a tomato salsa, oatcakes, crackers, cheese and salad as well as two luscious bowls of soup. This was an excellent offering which we scoffed down. I particularly loved the soup and my dining companion liked the salmon. The oatcakes and crackers worked well for scooping.

Playfair Sharing Platter - Scottish Cafe and Restaurant

Playfair Sharing Platter – Scottish Cafe and Restaurant

My roast was beautifully presented and certainly was more of a summer roast. A colossal amount of chicken was on the plate, alongside a light and fluffy Yorkshire pudding, with various vegetables including mange tout, tomatoes (yeah, I know – technically a fruit), potatoes, and broccoli. This was all accompanied by a light gravy. This was a nice take on a traditional roast and I really enjoyed it. Across the table from me the cullen skink was a hearty sized bowl with plenty of fish, potato and leek in the creamy stew. There was also an additional large slice of bread for dunking. My friend really enjoyed this dish.

Sunday Roast - Scottish Cafe and Restaurant

Sunday Roast – Scottish Cafe and Restaurant

Cullen Skink - Scottish Cafe and Restaurant

Cullen Skink – Scottish Cafe and Restaurant

We were really quite stuffed at this point but we’re determined to sample dessert, so chose to share a cheesecake between us. This came in a glass and was layered within it. The raspberry coulis was delicious and the cheesecake bit was light and creamy. It was a great way to round off the meal.

Cheesecake - Scottish Cafe and Restaurant

Cheesecake – Scottish Cafe and Restaurant

We were really impressed with the Scottish Café and Restaurant. They offered some really great food.

Food – 8.5/10
Service – 9/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Value – 8/10

Overall – 32.5/40

Would I eat here again? Yup

This meal was complimentary, apart from drinks of two diet cokes and a tea. The true cost close to £65 for platter, roast, one main and dessert deal and drinks.

Whilst this meal was complimentary, all views are my own. Thank you to Jon for organising the visit.

Grand Cafe

Grand Cafe

22nd July 2018 10.30am

http://grandcafeedinburgh.co.uk/

Grand Cafe

Grand Cafe

After sitting empty for a while, Grand Café opened up in the vacant dining space at the Scotsman Hotel. The interior looks opulent without being intimidating. We’d made a trip to try out the brunch and were greeted by friendly staff and shown to our table (where I had a nice view over to Calton Hill). As we were giving brunches a test, it would have been rude of me not to try the Scottish breakfast. My dining companion chose the sourdough toast, with avocado, poached eggs and salsa verde.

Scottish Breakfast - Grand Cafe

Scottish Breakfast – Grand Cafe

On arrival, the food looked nice. My breakfast looked nice, albeit a little dry as it had no beans. I wish I had asked for sauce but as it wasn’t offered, I probably wrongly assumed that they didn’t have any. The flavour was good, particularly of the haggis, which was actually some of the best haggis I have ever eaten. The bacon cooled quickly and was a bit chewy, which made me think it was either not cooked to order or had been sat on the pass for a while. Having both lorne and link sausage also seemed a bit overkill, but again, the lorne sausage was pretty decent. Across from me, the sourdough toast was being eaten but with a feeling it was lacking a bit of oomph. Sadly, on both dishes the eggs were over cooked. They were cooked different ways too, so it wasn’t just a bad batch of cooking. My fried egg had no runniness at all, and neither did the poached egg on the sourdough toast. Considering it is often the egg yolk that adds to the richness of dishes, this was very disappointing. We did mention this to our server at the end of the meal, just so the chef was made aware (we are not the type to send something back unless it’s inedible/cold).

Sourdough toast with avocado, poached egg and salsa verde - Grand Cafe

Sourdough toast with avocado, poached egg and salsa verde – Grand Cafe

Whilst generally, the food had good flavour, what we had was a bit hit or miss and has left us inclined to give it a miss next time as there are better establishments out there.

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

Overall – 30/40

Would I eat here again? Unlikely but never say never.

£22 for the two breakfasts and a cup of coffee.

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

9th July 2018 8.30pm

https://thehawksmoor.com/locations/edinburgh/

Hawksmoor opened in the newly renovated Edinburgh Grand complex to much excitement across the city. We went along to Hawksmoor’s soft launch to see what they had to offer. Set in a grand former bank, the venue is certainly impressive. We had put in for the random draw for tables in the soft launch and ended up with a table at 8.30, which meant it was a little quieter but also that most specials had sold out and they also had no bone marrow related items left.

Langoustine scampi - Hawksmoor

Langoustine scampi – Hawksmoor

The menu looked good but I couldn’t decide on which starter to pick, so I asked the server which to pick between the langoustine scampi and the potted beef and bacon (which is unlike me to do). She said both were great but believed the langoustine scampi edged it. I took her advice and she kindly said she’d also order the other one for us to try, on the house. At the time I was impressed at this generosity but it appears they offered something free to other diners, a hook for a return visit no doubt. I also ordered a rib-eye steak with a side of dripping fries. My dining companion went for the old spot belly ribs followed by the rib-eye and triple cooked chips. We got a side of spinach with lemon and garlic to share too.

The starters looked a little uneven in size with the langoustines being relatively small and the potted beef and bacon, coming with two Yorkshire puddings, which were massive in size. Let’s start with the langoustine scampi. There were about six pieces served with a tartare sauce. These were light and tasty. The langoustines were cooked well and the tartare sauce was of good consistency. The potted beef and bacon came not only with the Yorkshire puddings but a big boat of gravy to pour over the top. This was all tasty but way too large for a starter for one. It would work better as a sharing starter. That being said, I would never want to share my Yorkshire puddings! The pork across the table was gorgeous and the accompanying salad was refreshing.

Rib-eye steak - Hawksmoor

Rib-eye steak – Hawksmoor

We both had the same cut of steak and I have to say they looked a bit lack lustre, appearing rather dry than succulent. I even got a comment on Instagram saying how poor it looked. However, whilst it wasn’t a stunner, the flavour was spot on. The steak was perhaps a touch more well done than the rare I had asked for but only a smidgen. It was still juicy and full of flavour. I picked a béarnaise sauce which was tasty and the fries finished it off nicely. The triple cooked chips on the other side of the table were also pretty decent. The spinach wasn’t too bad either. However, we couldn’t finish the steaks as we were scuppered by that additional starter.

There was no way we could fit in dessert but we were given a couple of the salted caramel rolos free to take home and try. I had mine the next day and they were pretty delicious. The oozy caramel was on the generous side, which in larger numbers would make for a fun dessert.

The service in Hawksmoor was excellent. The brand will hold the place up, as well as having an beautiful venue, but I’m not sure it offers the best steak in Edinburgh.

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

Overall – 31/40

Would I eat here again? Maybe if there was a deal on.

Cost £47 full price cost closer to £100.

Carnivore

Carnivore

3rd July 2018 6pm

https://carnivoreedinburgh.co.uk

We’d not been able to make the Carnivore launch but finally got round to visiting. The décor was as expected, blacks and browns, giving it a meaty feel! It was relatively quiet when we popped in but that didn’t seem to impact on the atmosphere too much. We got a couple of mule cocktails ordered, from their 555 menu, which has 5 cocktails on it, available 5 days a week (Sun-Thur), for £5. I ordered the duck confit nuggets followed by a philly. My friend chose the prawn rice balls followed by the Korean.

The ‘little plates’ were nice. My confit duck nuggets weren’t particularly anything to look at but they still plated them in the best way they could. The duck was good but I would have liked more mustard flavour in the apricot mustard sauce as it was not noticeable (unless I have misunderstood the phrase apricot mustard). Across from me, the prawn rice balls were also good. These came with a lovely shellfish mayo. They were surprisingly substantial considering their size, so good for snacking.

Onto our mains. The fillings were fresh and juicy. The meat in my philly was cooked well and wasn’t difficult to eat, as steak can often be when placed in a sandwich. However, I did feel a little uninspired by the dish as a whole and I’m not really sure why. Perhaps I was just expecting more meaty oomph. My dining companion was a little disappointed as she thought she was getting a rack of ribs rather than a sandwich. It isn’t overly clear on the menu, even though it is under the heading proper meat and bread. The kimchi inside was also not very spicy. The side of chips went down well though and the meat inside the sandwich was good and plentiful.

The food at Carnivore is nice. However, we just felt a little underwhelmed on the meat experience. We were expecting it to be a celebration of meat but it was more of a whimper.

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

Overall – 31/40

Would we eat here again? Maybe

£48 for two little plates, two mains, a side and two cocktails

Brunch and Supper

Brunch and Supper

19th June 2018 6pm

https://brunchandsupper.co.uk

The idea of Brunch and Supper is pretty much explained in their name. Brunch is offered through the day and then supper is offered in the evenings. We arrived just as their evening session was opening. We had an Itison voucher which meant that between the two of us we had three options from the ‘lights’ section of the menu, one bowl, one plate and one bite plus two glasses of wine, all for £19 in total.

We received a lovely welcome on arrival and a little explanation about the sharing ethos of the supper. We both wanted pretty much everything on the menu but ended up opting for the haggis and black pudding croquette, pork belly and the sticky salmon as our three lights, a bowl of mussels for the bowl, the Korean smoked aubergine, sweet potato, and sticky rice for our plate and harissa fries for our side. They seemed to have options that cover vegetarians and vegans too, so everyone should be able to find something they like on the menu.

Flabread - Brunch and Supper

Flabread – Brunch and Supper

We were given some flatbreads with dips whilst we waited for our food. The homemade ketchup type dip was delicious. As explained to us, the food came out when it was ready, although I am not sure the table was really big enough for this deal as we had to rest some of the plates on the table next to us.

Mussels - Brunch and Supper

Mussels – Brunch and Supper

We first tucked into the mussels. These were sat in a vodka, coconut and lime sauce with chillis, coriander and basil. The mussels were big and juicy and the sauce was broth like and light. We were given an extra bit of lime to squeeze over the top and that really made my palate zing in a lovely way. The chillis weren’t too overpowering and you could taste the elements. Great start.

Korean Aubergine and Sweet Potato - Brunch and Supper

Korean Aubergine and Sweet Potato – Brunch and Supper

We moved onto the Korean aubergine dish. This was an extraordinary dish and if you usually keep away from vegetarian food, I implore you to give this a try. The depth of flavours were stunning. There was no mistaking there was a fair bit of chilli in there but these was balanced out with the gloriously sticky rice. We were both blown away by the balance of simple and complex.

Haggis and black pudding croquette - Brunch and Supper

Haggis and black pudding croquette – Brunch and Supper

We then went into the haggis and black pudding croquette, which was large and sliced in two. This came with a scrummy red onion marmalade and a beautiful whisky sauce. The marmalade cut through the richness of the croquette and it all worked perfectly together. This felt like a plate full of happiness.

Pork belly - Brunch and Supper

Pork belly – Brunch and Supper

Next was the pork belly. This was probably our least favourite for both of us but given the standard of the food, that doesn’t mean it was bad. The pork was a little dry but did benefit from the strips of pickled apple sitting on top. This was sat on a bed of chilli pineapple. The pineapple was nice enough but I would have preferred more of the apple instead.

Salmon - Brunch and Supper

Salmon – Brunch and Supper

The sticky salmon was a joy. Looking at the elements on the dish, most you would say would work but you would be a little unsure of the pancakes. However, do not fret. This was a gem of a dish. The salmon was cooked to perfection, flaking beautifully with a crispy skin. The ginger pancakes absorbed a bit of the soy dressing which made them succulent. The spring onions just finished the plate off nicely. Yum!

We munched on the harissa fries all the way through didn’t carry much harissa flavour. Maybe a harissa duo would have worked better than a powder. That said, they were still fab fries.

We were really surprised at the level of cooking at Brunch and Supper. Classy, wonderful flavours delivered in a understated manner.

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

Overall – 34/40

Would I eat here again? Very much so

£19 for the voucher, true cost around £42.

Halibut, swiss chard, salt marsh herbs - Fhior

Fhior

1st June 2018 7.15pm

www.resdiary.com/restaurant/fhior1

Chef Scott Smith announced in April that he was leaving Norn to set up a new place. Around a month later, Fhior opened up on Broughton Street and we nipped in on a Friday night on the off chance there was a table, which there was (I doubt that will last for long). We were seated by a window looking out into a little back garden. It was nice to get some natural light on the table in these light evenings.

There was a choice of a four or seven course tasting menu. We decided to throw caution to the wind and plump for the seven course option. We were brought out some bread and some coppa to start off. Those delicious slice of pork was great to stave off the stomach rumbles until our first course arrived.

Coppa - Fhior

Coppa – Fhior

The first course was a little bowl with some small mackerel pieces in it sitting in some liquor. This was a refreshing taste and a really pleasant start to the meal.

Mackerel - Fhior

Mackerel – Fhior

We then received a beautiful halibut dish. This came with Swiss chard and salt marsh herbs. The fish was cooked perfectly and flaked delicately. The light sauce pulled the whole thing together well.

Halibut, swiss chard, salt marsh herbs - Fhior

Halibut, swiss chard, salt marsh herbs – Fhior

The next course was slightly unusual with the pairing of prawn with rhubarb but weirdly it worked. Again, the exquisitely designed plate of food was delicious. The prawn was particularly plump and juicy.

Prawn, rhubarb, borrage - Fhior

Prawn, rhubarb, borrage – Fhior

I love a bit of asparagus as well as garlic, so the next course was right up my street. Asparagus was matched with spruce, wild garlic and wood sorrel. The delicacy of the flavours worked in harmony and created a lovely summery flavour.

Asparagus, spruce, wild garlic, wood sorrel - Fhior

Asparagus, spruce, wild garlic, wood sorrel – Fhior

Next up was baby gem lettuce, hogget, peas and goats curd. This was a whole piece of charred baby gem lettuce with hogget scattered through it. Again another really great dish, although I found the end of my lettuce a little unappetising so left it.

Baby gem lettuce, hogget, pea, goats cheese - Fhior

Baby gem lettuce, hogget, pea, goats cheese – Fhior

The last of the savoury courses was chicken with mushroom, barley and lovage. The chicken had been cooked sous vide and was wonderfully moist as a result. The mushrooms complemented the barley and the lovage purée drew the elements together. The whole thing was satisfying.

Chicken, mushroom, barley, lovage - Fhior

Chicken, mushroom, barley, lovage – Fhior

The first of our two desserts arrived in the form of strawberries, with a woodruff ice cream and rapeseeds. Neither of us had tried woodruff ice cream before and were pleasantly surprised. This served as a more substantial palate cleanser.

Strawberry, woodruff, rapeseed - Fhior

Strawberry, woodruff, rapeseed – Fhior

The last course of the evening was a chocolate one. It came as white chocolate, beremeal and seaweed. Whilst reading the list, you might not be attracted to this dessert but it was an absolute corker. The flavours and textures felt like they were made for each other.

White Chocolate, Beremeal, Seaweed - Fhior

White Chocolate, Beremeal, Seaweed – Fhior

As we wrapped up our meal, we were given a raspberry each on a spoon. I thought this was a much nicer way to end the meal than a mint but was even more surprised as I popped it in my mouth as it was warm and almost liquid. It was the perfect end to what was a delightful meal.

Raspberries - Fhior

Raspberries – Fhior

The staff at Fhior were knowledgeable and friendly and the whole place had a more relaxed atmosphere than Norn. Fhior is a place to enjoy and savour. Check it out.

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

Overall – 36/40

Would I eat here again? Most definitely

£145 for two 7 course tasting menus and two glasses of wine

Bistro Deluxe

Bistro Deluxe by Paul Tamburrini

29th May 2018 6pm

www.paultamburrini.co.uk

Third time lucky. We originally booked to visit Bistro Deluxe by Paul Tamburrini at the MacDonald Hotel at Holyrood several months ago and then changed the booking due to a change in my friend’s plans. We rescheduled, but then we had to cancel due to snowmageddon. Luckily the sun was shining and we made it this time.

We opted to go a la carte rather than the fixed price menu as there were a few things that caught our eye. There were a few changes to the menu because of seasonal produce. My friend chose a couple of these dishes. I opted for the mushroom veloute followed by Ox cheeks. Jen picked the beetroot, blue cheese and fig starter followed by turbot for her main. The server came back and said that the chef wasn’t happy with the figs (which were already a change from the menu) so would revert back to the apple if that was ok, which it was.

Ox Cheek - Bistro Deluxe

Ox Cheek – Bistro Deluxe

My mushroom veloute was very nice. Thespis-cooked egg nestled in the soup was interesting touch and when cut into, oozed into the mushroom. I enjoyed the little croutons and I also used a bit of the beef served at the table to mop up the last bits of veloute. Across from me, the beetroot was pleasant. The blue cheese and apple added some lovely contrast and served to be a very light starter.

Turbot - Bistro Deluxe

Turbot – Bistro Deluxe

The smell on my main of ox cheeks was beautiful. Maybe a bit of a heavy dish to have on a warm day but I didn’t care, as it melted in mouth. The mash was smooth and the mix of mushrooms, bacon and onions were a delight, if a touch salty. The sauce was rich and had strong depth in its flavour. I was pleased that I was automatically given extra sauce in a jug for pouring. My friend was enjoying her turbot with cockles and a coconut and chorizo broth. It was presented with a pretty flower on top. The flavours were pretty decent but it was a small and light dish for a main.

My friend was still hungry after her first two courses, whereas with my more wintery options I was closer to full. She chose to go for dessert and it would have been rude of me not to join her! I chose key lime pie, which was more of a deconstructed pie but was excellent It included a creamy lime parfait, with coconut sorbet and lime meringue. The whole thing was really quite lovely and refreshingly zingy. My dining partner chose the crema catalan foam. This was nice enough but a bit disappointing as she would have preferred an actually crema catalan rather than a foam flavoured that way. It had some great charred pineapple but the chocolate was probably not required. The sorbet was lovely though. We did also have a bit of a wait for these to be served.

Overall they offered nice food but perhaps a bit expensive. The service was lovely but the place lacked a bit of something.

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

Overall – 30/40

Would I eat here again? Maybe.

£82 for two three course meals and one glass of wine