Stocks

Stocks

23rd January 2019 5.45pm

www.stocksedinburgh.co.uk

Food – 7.5/10

We ate:

  • Scotch egg
  • Mushroom soup
  • Chicken
  • Risotto

The scotch egg was good. This was a little unconventional, being made with haggis and turkey but that didn’t stop it from being just as tasty. I thought originally it was an overcooked egg but clearly had just sat at the pass a little too long so had cooked a small sliver of the top of the yolk but was runny underneath. The curry veloute was thin but still had nice flavour.

Scotch egg - Stocks

Scotch egg – Stocks

Across from me, my friend was eating their signature mushroom soup. This was cooked in a dish with a pastry lid to it and came with a slice of lightly grilled bread. Sadly she felt it was just mushrooms in cream and not sure what the pastry crust really added to it. This was a bit of a shame.

Mushroom soup - Stocks

Mushroom soup – Stocks

The main of chicken was generous in size. It was a little overcooked but not to the point of being too dry. The chicken was sat in a lemon and thyme sauce, which was great but the dish could have done with a bit more of it. The dish also came with wagyu bon bons which were delicious. The broccoli and asparagus were pretty decent too.

Chicken - Stocks

Chicken – Stocks

My friend was tucking into a pretty risotto dish. She thought this was a good risotto and managed to get some texture in there rather than be mush, which can often be a risk with risotto. The butternut squash was good and the flavours came together well.

Risotto - Stocks

Risotto – Stocks

Service – 7.5/10

We received friendly and helpful service but perhaps it was a little slow at times.

Atmosphere- 8/10

Stocks has a nice bistro feel – relaxed, cosy dining.

Value – 8/10

We had an Itison voucher deal, which made the cost £29 for two courses and a glass of prosecco each but full price would have been around £57. The voucher was good value.

Overall score – 31/40

Would we eat here again? Possibly

Avocado on toast with egg and hash browns - Smoke Stack

Smoke Stack

3rd January 2019 11.30am

www.smokestack.org.uk

Food – 8/10

We ate:

  • Sausage butty
  • Avocado on toast with fried egg and hash browns as extras
  • Berry energiser smoothie
  • Sweet melody smoothie

The sausages in the butty were from Crombies (based a little further down Broughton Street) so were of high quality. They came on a brioche roll, served open with butter on the side so you can add if you wish. Sauces were also provided. It would have been nice for the sausages to have been cut in half so they filled the roll better but this didn’t detract from the experience. The brioche was lightly toasted and held together well.

Sausage Butty - Smoke Stack

The avocado on toast was good and certainly benefited from the added extras. The avocado had chilli running through it. The egg was cooked well and the hash browns were satisfying.

Avocado on toast with egg and hash browns - Smoke StackThe smoothies were packed full of flavour. The berry smoothie was the more vivid of the two, filled with blackcurrants, strawberries and blackberries. The sweet melody smoothie contained melon, strawberries and mango and whilst not so attractive on the eye was refreshing and light.

Smoothies - Smoke Stack

Service – 8/10

Prompt and friendly service. We were not rushed to leave.

Atmosphere – 7/10

Not too bad for late morning. A few tables were occupied.

Value – 7/10

The bill came to just over £20. This wasn’t too bad for what we had. The smoothies were large so provided better value for money than we originally assumed.

Overall score – 30/40

Would we eat here again? Yes.

The House Burger - Porto & Fi

Porto & Fi

19th December 2018 1pm

www.portofi.com

An impromptu Christmas get together over lunch brought Edinburgh Feasts to Porto & Fi. Situated in Newhaven, Porto & Fi is a family run café-bistro and was bustling when we arrived. I was looking to fill up as I had nothing really in for dinner, so chose their house burger. My friend had plans to go out for dinner so chose one of the soups of the day – yellow split pea.

The House Burger - Porto & Fi

The House Burger – Porto & Fi

My burger came with curly fries (bonus!), a red cabbage slaw and a side salad. You could choose between two sauces for the burger, dijonaise or BBQ. I went with the former, although I would have liked to have been offered a condiment for my fries. You can also add cheese for a little extra but I decided not to. The burger itself was fairly big and made of 100% beef. It was tasty and filling. The salad was fairly standard but the slaw gave it a boost. The curly fries were plentiful and excellent. Across from me, the soup was also going down well. This came with some big pieces of sliced baguette and some butter. The soup was a really hearty bowlful, great on a cold winter’s day.

Yellow Split Pea Soup - Porto & Fi

Yellow Split Pea Soup – Porto & Fi

We had a good lunch at Porto & Fi. They offer a good range of food for those who want a light bite and those who want something more substantial. It’s certainly worth a visit.

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

Overall – 32/10

Would I eat here again? Yup.

£21 for a soup, a burger and two diet cokes

Southside Scran

18th December 2018 6.30pm

southsidescran.com

Southside Scran is another venture between Tom Kitchin and Dominic Jack. Edinburgh Feasts loves both the Kitchin and Scran and Scallie but would this be as successful as these two? If we ignore the confusion of Southside Scran actually being located on the Tollcross/Bruntsfield border rather than the traditional Southside area, this looked like it was going to be closer to Scran and Scallie than the Kitchin, acting as a local neighbourhood bistro. The difference with this restaurant was that they were offering much of the food cooked on a rotisserie.

img_4412We were welcomed and taken to our table. Somewhat disappointingly we were sat in a corner where I was facing a curtain and my friend was facing a wall (which seemed to have something greasy splashed up it). We’d booked almost three weeks prior, perhaps this wasn’t early enough to avoid this table. We ordered our food – I chose the octopus followed by a special of rotisserie shoulder of lamb. My friend opted for the shellfish ravioli followed by monkfish.

img_4413We were brought some bread with butter, chicken liver parfait and cornichons. However, we had no side plates which was odd and difficult when given bread and spreads. We had to balance the bread and knives on our place mats, which resulted in crumbs all over the table, which they did not offer to clear for us. All a bit odd. The bread itself was nice apart from the end which was difficult to bite into. The parfait was delicious and the butter beautifully spreadable.

img_4415img_4414My octopus carpaccio was pretty on the plate, fanning out in a lovely circle. This was pleasant and I did enjoy the lemon dressing which was lots of little bursts of lemon but it was probably too much for the octopus, as little flavour was derived from the seafood itself. There were little crunchy elements with tiny croutons and a scattering of capers to add some sort of contrast to the lemon. My dining companion was enjoying her shellfish ravioli. A single large ravioli was packed full and sat in a lovely shellfish bisque.

img_4417img_4416img_4418The mains both came from the rotisserie. Mine was lamb shoulder with cinnamon and paprika. What I wasn’t expecting was a pile of Mediterranean flavours on top, with tomatoes, olives, onions and more capers. Whilst all the elements were well cooked/prepared and full of flavour, I didn’t particularly enjoy the flavours together. We’d also ordered sides of fondant potatoes and french bean salad. Only the beans really went with my meal as I had expected a different set of flavours in my dish. It does annoy me when descriptions on menus don’t accurately reflect the meal you are going to have. The potatoes were good though, with some garlic and spring onions alongside for good measure. The french bean salad was excellent. These were mixed with hazelnuts and shallots which added the perfect balance. My friend was enjoying her monkfish tail. This was cajun spiced and came with aubergine. The purée in particular was nice

img_4421We decided to take a punt on desserts and both ordered the chocolate tart. On arrival, mine had clearly moved across the plate as there was a chocolate patchy smear that was not on my friend’s plate (so not a fancy plate dressing). The tart itself was incredibly intense in flavour but surprisingly light in texture. It came with a delicious milk ice cream. However, the scoop needed to be larger to balance it out because light in texture didn’t mean it was a light dessert. My friend did struggle mid way through and had to abandon, but I managed to clean my plate.

To cap off this underwhelming evening, we were overcharged on the bill. We waited a very long time to be seen by someone to rectify and actually pay the bill, which was a shame considering the excellence service throughout the rest of the meal. The bill was adjusted without a problem (it was the special which had been incorrectly priced).

Overall, we were disappointed with Southside Scran. It definitely has potential but it is nowhere near Scran and Scallie in terms of both food and value for money. Maybe it’s still bedding in but it’s not what I’d expect from a Tom Kitchin venture.

Food – 7/10
Service – 8/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Value – 5/10

Overall – 27/40

Would I eat here again? Only if I heard it had improved.

Cost £93 for 2 starters, mains, sides and desserts

Cauliflower ‘buffalo wings’ - Vesta

Vesta

12th December 2018 8pm

https://vestaedinburgh.co.uk

Vesta is where Home used to be situated on Queensferry Street and is still affiliated with Social Bite, offering the opportunity to pay it forward as well as offering training and employment programmes for the Social Bite Academy. I was visiting with Emma from Vegan Edinburgh (veganedinburgh.com) and Ann from A Quirky Lifestyle (www.quirkylifestyle.com) and Celebrating Our World (www.instagram.com/celebratingourworld). We were offered a booth to sit in and we ordered some cocktails whilst deciding on the food. This place caters well for vegans and vegetarians as well as meat eaters. I went for the baked camembert followed by the pork belly and black pudding roulade. My friends went for the hot smoked salmon and cauliflower ‘buffalo wings’ for their starters and then the miso glazed seitan and cashew stir fry and the mushroom stuffed seitan for their mains.

Breaded Camembert - Vesta

Breaded Camembert – Vesta

Hot smoked salmon - Vesta

Hot smoked salmon – Vesta

Cauliflower ‘buffalo wings’ - Vesta

Cauliflower ‘buffalo wings’ – Vesta

The starters arrived with simple plating. My breaded camembert came in four big pieces along with some salad and spiced red onion chutney. The camembert was oozy and the crumb was crispy. The chutney went nicely with it. The hot smoked salmon was a little hidden on my friend’s plate due to a covering of toasted ciabatta. This dish came with braised leeks and a small swirl of garlic veloute. This was a sturdy dish, albeit a little pedestrian. The cauliflower ‘buffalo wings’ were going down a treat. The heat was brought through a Bloody Mary salsa which was tempered by a vegan sour cream. Again, there was a little salad on the dish as a garnish.

Pork belly and black pudding roulade - Vesta

Pork belly and black pudding roulade – Vesta

Mushroom stuffed seitan - Vesta

Mushroom stuffed seitan – Vesta

Miso glazed seitan and cashew stir fry - Vesta

Miso glazed seitan and cashew stir fry – Vesta

The mains came out with similar understated plating. My roulade was a generous portion and was really cooked well. The mash was nice and the red cabbage tasty. The apple sauce pulled it all together really well, but as the only vaguely wet thing on the dish, it really felt that there was a gravy or sauce missing. It wasn’t overly dry but needed just a little bit more. The same could be said for the mushroom stuffed seitan. This was also a great dish but could have done with some kind of additional sauce with it. The cranberry sauce was not enough for what was on the plate. However, the seitan was good and the vegetables worked well. The stir fry also had seitan in it. It was found to be a filling dish. From my point of view, I’d have liked to see a bit more colour in it, but that is a personal preference.

All the food we ate was good. It’s not overly exciting food but to have a good choice for non-meat eaters is great.

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

Overall – 31/40

Would I eat here again? Probably

£66 for three starters, mains and cocktails (we also put some money on top of this to pay it forward).

Sticky Toffee Pudding - LeftField

LeftField

11th December 2018 5.30pm

www.leftfieldedinburgh.co.uk

We had an early booking at LeftField. Overlooking Bruntsfield Links, LeftField is tucked away but worth hunting out. Whilst understandably quiet at the time of arrival, this place was bustling fairly quickly. We were left a little confused when provided with menus as we soon realised that we didn’t actually have the same menu. Once cleared up (one of us had been given the Christmas party menu), we both ordered identical meals of crispy fried squid and sirloin steak with garlic butter.

Crispy fried squid - LeftField

Crispy fried squid – LeftField

The crispy fried squid was plentiful and tasty. Lime on the side meant I could get my lime hit. This worked beautifully with the sriracha mayo and balanced the heat out. The squid wasn’t rubbery or tough. A very pleasing course.

Sirloin Steak - LeftField

Sirloin Steak – LeftField

Next up was the steak. Both were cooked to our preferences and served with a small pot our chosen sauce – garlic butter. The steak was juicy, made even more delicious by the butter. The steak came with chips and a side salad. The chips were fab but I would have liked the option of a sauce for these (does that make me uncouth?!). The salad was fairly standard but the addition of spring onions did lift it a bit.

Sticky Toffee Pudding - LeftField

Sticky Toffee Pudding – LeftField

We had room for dessert and, you guessed it, we ordered the same dish. Sticky toffee pudding was calling both of us. On its arrival, we were delighted to see it was topped with popcorn. A little unorthodox maybe but tasted good nevertheless. It was a shame that my friend has a bunch of unpopped corn in hers as I didn’t get any. That aside, the pudding was full of warming flavour, with a beautifully yummy sauce. This contrasted well with the cold ice cream. This was definitely a crowd pleasing dessert.

LeftField has a few wrinkles (including an odd Christmas playlist that they ended up changing) but is generally offering tasty food in a relaxed setting.

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

Overall – 32/40

Would I eat here again? Yes.

£77 for two three course meals, a glass of wine and a gin and tonic

Smoked Salmon - Number One

Number One at The Balmoral

8th December 2018 7pm

www.roccofortehotels.com/hotels-and-resorts/the-balmoral-hotel/restaurants-and-bars/number-one/

A group of us always go somewhere fancy for a Christmas get together. This year we booked Number One back in February on the basis that we’d have saved our pennies by Christmas (ha!). A little steeper than tasting menus at some other Michelin starred restaurants, we hoped for something special.

Number One at the Balmoral

Number One at the Balmoral

We were warmly greeted by staff who promptly took our coats and offered us the choice of a drink first or going straight to our table for dinner. We chose the latter. The dining room had a nice Christmassy feel and the lighting was low. We were led to a table in the middle of the room. To my surprise, the place wasn’t full and remained under capacity all evening. This really shouldn’t be the case for a Saturday in December at a starred restaurant. We had already decided to go for the winter tasting menu but my friends talked each other into matching it with wines.

Canapés - Number One

Canapés – Number One

We started off with some amuse bouche, presented on a lovely stand. This included three bites of food; one lobster, one beef and one cheese. Opinion was split on which one was best as we all had a different favourite. Mine was the lobster. They were all delicious though. Afterwards, the sommelier came to talk about the first wine, and introduced each wine with the relevant course as it came out. He spoke confidently and humorously throughout.

Crab - Number One

Crab – Number One

We then started on the first course of the menu, West Coast crab with mango and avocado. This was a light and delicate dish and almost palate cleansed in preparation for the next course.

Smoked Salmon - Number One

Smoked Salmon – Number One

Smoked Salmon - Number One

Smoked Salmon – Number One

Next followed the Balmoral’s signature dish, smoked salmon with lemon purée and quails egg. Our plates arrived under smoked closhes, which were lifted at the same time to allow the smoky aroma to waft across the dining room. The salmon was of high class and a generous portion. The small dots of lemon purée were a lovely addition along with slices of radish and apple. The quails egg oozed appropriately. A delightful course and the favourite for one of the group.

Fois Gras - Number One

Fois Gras – Number One

Fois gras followed. I always feel slightly uneasy with this as a dish and would never order it from an a la carte menu. My fellow diners felt the same. However, we weren’t going to waste a course put in front of us. There is no denying that it was delicious. The accompanying quince and pistachio were beautiful. This course also came with gingerbread. We found this a little too crumbly and sweet for this course (although we obviously ate it all anyway). They didn’t clear up the crumbs it left, as it was served in a napkin on the tablecloth, which I found surprising for a Michelin starred restaurant.

Halibut - Number One

Halibut – Number One

The fish course was halibut. The fish was possibly slightly over cooked but only a smidgen or so. It sat on a bed of cucumber. I am not a fan of this vegetable but it did seem that is made the cucumber a bit mulchy, which made it even less appealing. The seaweed was nice but the oyster felt a bit overkill, almost as if it was there to be opulent rather than for the benefit of the dish. There was a surprise addition of what we think was puffed rice on top of the fish. It certainly added another texture to the plate.

Beef fillet - Number One

Beef fillet – Number One

Then for the meat course, which was Tweed Valley beef fillet. This meat was of excellent quality and melted in the mouth. The accompanying beef short rib was packed full of flavour. The salsify was great and the little risotto underneath was tasty. One of my friends felt the dish could have taken a little more of the horseradish, but that was the only criticism. This was definitely my favourite course.

Brown Butter Financier - Number One

Brown Butter Financier – Number One

We then entered the dessert zone. First came the brown butter financier. Balanced on top was a muscovado chantilly cream and small cubes of apple were scattered around the plate. This was a pleasing dessert. The apple balanced out the sweetness well with its sharpness. It felt naughty without being over-rich.

Vanilla Soufflé and Ice Cream Sandwich - Number One

Vanilla Soufflé and Ice Cream Sandwich – Number One

Second dessert was the impressive vanilla soufflé and ice cream sandwich. As hoped, the soufflé had risen nicely. Sadly, I think it was a touch under done as it still tasted a bit eggy. The ice cream sandwich was a delight though. The ice cream itself was beautifully smooth and the biscuits tasted like Oreos, so what’s not to love?

Petit Fours - Number One

Petit Fours – Number One

We were lastly offered a petit four from a trolly full of them. There were four to choose from but one seemed a bit stingy compared to other places. Nevertheless, they were of a great quality and rounded off the meal well.

Sadly we had to wait ages to get the bill. I don’t mind restaurants not hurrying you out but as we were all sat there with no drinks, not being offered even a drink felt a bit foolish on their part. I might have considered a cocktail but by this time we decided that it was time to call an end to the evening.

Number One at the Balmoral definitely had elements of deliciousness but it didn’t offer anything wow. We felt a little underwhelmed by our experience but still enjoyed the meal overall.

Food – 8/10
Service – 8/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Value – 6/10

Overall – 29/40

Would I eat here again? Unlikely as there are better offerings in the capital.

£423 for three tasting menus, two with matched wines.