Mussels with white wine, cream and shallots - Cadiz

Cadiz

7th June 2017 7pm

www.cadizedinburgh.co.uk

Four of us had purchased two Itison vouchers for Cadiz. The deal included a cocktail, a four course meal and tea/coffee for two. On arrival, our special menus were waiting for us on the table. The menu was shorter than the normal menu at Cadiz but there was still plenty of showcasing of their normal dishes within it. I was a bit disappointed to see that all the cocktails were ‘twists’ and had some kind of wine in them, so was going to opt for a soft drink but our server was very accommodating and said it was not a problem to adapt one of the cocktails so there was no wine in it. I appreciated this gesture. So three of us had the mojito and one went for the bloody mary. We automatically would be receiving a fish and shellfish soup amuse bouche but we were able to choose our other courses. I went for asparagus with a poached egg to start, followed by mussels in a white wine, fresh cream and shallot sauce. My friends went for a calamari and padron peppers for their starters and then mussels in a white wine, chorizo and chilli sauce and the arroz for their mains.

Seafood and Fish Soup - Cadiz

Seafood and Fish Soup – Cadiz

The amuse bouche came out and was a generous size considering the course. We were also given a plate of crispy croutons with aioli to share between two. The soup itself was rich brown in colour and hidden in its depths was a plethora of seafood. The croutons were as crispy as advertised and the aioli was beautiful, with a delightful richness of garlic. Thumbs up all round.

Our starters all looked great as they were brought to the table. My asparagus was coated with a hollandaise sauce. The poached egg oozed golden loveliness as I cut into it. A simple, yet effective, dish. Two friends had chosen the calamari, which would have been my backup choice. This was served with a lemon, neatly wrapped in muslin and tied off with a ribbon. The calamari had a sprinkling of sea salt and chilli on top and had a luscious smoked paprika aioli for the calamari to be dipped into. They were not chewy and the batter was of excellent quality. Across from me, another friend was busing herself with eating the padron peppers. This was a large portion, with about 8 peppers in total. These again were sprinkled with sea salt and went down a treat.

The generous sizing continued when our mains arrived. Three of us had mussels with one or other of the sauces. These were in very large bowls and were served with a side of fries. We all thought the mussels were excellent. Mine were plump and juicy. The sauces were also exceptional, although I think the white wine, cream and shallot sauce I chose was the winner (as the other two tasted the sauce too). It provided a good base to dunk the fries in. The mussels were also available as a starter but served with crusty bread rather than fries. The last of our group had the arroz, which is an arborio rice dish, served with king prawns and clams. This was a homely yet pretty dish and whilst rice was the main component of the plate of food, there was plenty of seafood mixed through it too. Overall, I think my only complaint was that there was no finger bowl or finger wipes after the mussels, so your hands were left a bit sticky (particularly if you are like us and use a mussel shell for your cutlery).

We had to wait a little bit until the staff came to tell us about dessert. We had the option of a crème brulee or a white chocolate and vanilla cheesecake. Three of us went for the brulee, with a lone friend picking the cheesecake. What surprised me on delivery of the brulees was that they were on fire. In an unusual method, instead of blow torching the sugar in the kitchen, it was happening in front of our eyes at the table. We were advised to wait for it to go out and then wait for another minute to ensure the crack of the surface when diving in with your spoon. Whilst it unnerved me a little, having a flame in front of me, once it went out and duly waited, the crack came, along with a gloriously delicious custard. Simplicity at its finest. There were a couple of chocolate cake type balls served on the side of the brulee. These were a bit dry, which was a shame. The cheesecake was also good. This came with a raspberry coulis and raspberries placed on top. This was a solid effort, although my friend was unable to finish it. After, teas and coffees were sipped before we left for the evening.

We really enjoyed our meal at Cadiz. Generally the staff were very attentive and seemed to predict our every need, with the wait for dessert being the only, very minor, blip. If you like seafood, this is worth a visit.

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

Overall – 34/40

Would I eat here again? Yes.

Cost – The deal cost £98 for the two vouchers plus a further £15 for a couple more cocktails. The full price would have been closer to £153 for the four of us.

Kilted Lobster

19th May 2016 6.15pm

www.kiltedlobster.com

Kilted Lobster is a cute little place on St Stephen Street in Stockbridge, The décor and menu embraces the sea theme but there are plenty of non-seafood options for those in your party not up for it. We were seated by the window and handed some menus. Whilst we were perusing I noticed a note on the table about social enterprise, explaining that the restaurant closes to the public on a Tuesday in order to take referrals from charities of those who are facing food poverty or isolation issues. I knew then I had made right decision to support this place.

Kilted Lobster

Kilted Lobster

Whilst deciding on our menu choices, we were presented with a trio of canapés. The haggis bon bon was delicious and melted in the mouth. The spicy salmon on a herb bellini was tasty and the delicious mushroom velouté in tiny glasses was intense in flavour. There was a nice choice on the menu and whilst the lobster option was tempting we went for other choices; pigeon breast followed by wild halibut for me and Alba skink followed by Shetland salmon for my dining companion for the evening.

Canapes - Kilted Lobster

Canapes – Kilted Lobster

When the starters arrived the most noticeable thing was the difference in size between the two dishes, with the pigeon appearing far smaller than the soup. However, my pigeon breast had beautiful gamey flavour. The pumpkin worked well, particularly in combination with the chorizo crumb. The at the bottom of the pile of pigeon was a piece of what tasted like fruit cake. It was an unusual choice but the fruitiness worked. I was very jealous of the Alba skink seafood chowder on the other side of the table. It was well put together and my friend loved it, although opted not to eat the bread to avoid filling up. She said she could have eaten a vat of the chowder though.

Our mains both looked lovely but I thought mine in particular was stunning. The halibut sat beautifully on the plate surrounded by a vivid yellow saffron and mussel velouté with celeriac, wilted greens  and samphire. The fish was cooked to perfection and the accompaniments were perfect match. I found the mussels a little cool in comparison to the rest of the dish but it wasn’t really an issue. The salmon on the other side of the table was lovely. The accompanying brown crab risotto was deemed a masterpiece. She found the shallot puree too sweet but that means I probably would have loved it.

We gave desserts a go but had to squeeze them in. I went for the chocolate and cherry terrine and my friend opted for the toffee apple pannacotta. They looked appetising on arrival. The cherry jellies  on my plate were perfect. I loved them and would have been happy just having these as dessert. The terrine was very intense but good, although the chocolate was too hard to eat using a spoon and I had to resort to my fingers (oh what hardship!!). The pannacotta was enjoyed. The texture was slightly different due to the apple but tasted good. She also gave the thumbs up to the additional shortbread.

Kilted Lobster is a lovely little place and worthwhile checking out.

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

Overall – 34/40

Would I eat here again? Most definitely

Cost £68 for 2 x three courses and 1 glass of wine.

The Kilted Lobster Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Michael’s Steak and Seafood Bar

8th December 2015 6pm

http://michaelsteak.co.uk/

Michael's Steak and Seafood Bar

Michael’s Steak and Seafood Bar

In the former site of Bar Rioja and Iggs (and possibly the Mussel and Steak bar for a brief amount of time) Michael Neave has opened a new restaurant. I already love Michael Neave’s Kitchen and Whisky Bar (I must do a visit for a blog post at some point) so when I heard he was behind this place I had to give it a whirl.

The restaurant is beautifully decorated in blues and light wood and also has a fancy glass feature in the floor. There are also lovely booths to section off parts of the dining space, so the dining experience is spacious yet cosy. Lovely staff got us started with drinks – although we were not offered tap water. I went with still water whilst my friend went for wine. As you would expect, the menu covers steak and seafood. However, I reckon there is less seafood on there than would be expected. Not that it mattered as there was still some choice. I wanted to try both meat and seafood elements, so went for highland venison carpaccio followed by a kilo of mussels and a side of fries. My friend chose smoked haddock and saffron potato terrine and a beef and oyster pie.

Firstly, the starters. My venison had great flavour and the meat was incredibly soft. A light seasoning on the meat made the most of the taste. The accompanying potato and radish salad, whilst full of chive, missed a bit of seasoning but was pleasant. The drizzle of balsamic glaze was the only thing that gave the dish a bit of sparkle. Other side of the table the terrine was enjoyed and the smokiness came through well.

We had a little wait for our mains. I was given a side bowl with hot water and a lemon for my mussels, which was good to see but there was a long wait after that before the food actually appeared. Mussels good (apologies for the duff photo but I am just proving I had them!). The mussels were plentiful and juicy. The sauce I had chosen for them a shallot, white wine and garlic cream. Unusually, this lacked acidity of something such as lemon but strangely this was still yummy. The side of fries was a good call as they were gorgeous, crispy and had good flavour. On the other side of table the pie looked fab. It was hot with plenty of meat. The carrots were also good. However, my friend felt the mash a bit too cold in comparison with the pie , which took the shone off the dish.

We plumped for desserts. I went for a chocolate mousse with raspberry sorbet. My dining companion chose vanilla panna cotta with a berry soup and shortbread. The mousse was very rich but the sorbet and fruit helped cut through it, which resulted in a deliciously moreish dish. The two miniscule blobs of coulis seems superfluous though. The panna cotta was lacking wobble but other than, tasted good. The fruit soup and shortbread also were of a good standard.

I found that they were a bit slow to take our dessert order and clear our plates afterwards but overall it was a nice enough experience. I did find the restaurant lacked the buzz found in Michael Neave’s Kitchen and there was nothing good enough to wow me to go out of my way to come back, but everything was decent enough.

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

Overall – 29/40

Cost £63 for 2 x 3 courses, bottle still water and a glass of red wine

Michael's Steak and Seafood Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ondine

1st April 2015 6.00pm

www.ondinerestaurant.co.uk

Ondine is situated on George IV Bridge but could easily be missed as it is a first floor restaurant and only has a small doorway at ground level. If you do manage to venture in, you will find the restaurant to be a mosaic of monochrome and elegant with it. The dining room has a circular appearance with the oyster bar at its centre. You can opt to have a table at the bar or on the main floor of the restaurant. We had decided to have a standard table when we booked and were placed at the window with a nice view over Victoria Street.

Ondine offers both an a la carte and a set menu. We opted for the a la carte menu. They do offer some great platters on this menu but we went for the traditional starter/main/dessert combo. I went for the steak tartare, followed by the grilled lemon sole and finished with the apple and toffee crumble tart. My dining companion went for the fish and shellfish soup, followed by deep fried haddock and chips and then the lemon posset. When ordering, I was given the choice of having my fish on or off the bone (I went for off). My friend was given the choice of having her haddock battered or in breadcrumb (she went for batter). We were given a selection of bread whilst we waited. There was brown and white but also a delightful little cheesy bread ball each. They were definitely the best of the breads, slightly warmed and exploding in your mouth with a beautiful cheese flavour.

Steak Tartare (top) and fish and shellfish soup (bottom) - Ondine

Steak Tartare (top) and fish and shellfish soup (bottom) – Ondine

Onto the starters. Those of you who have read some of my other reviews will know that I like to try steak tartare wherever I can, even if that means ordering it in a seafood speciality restaurant. This stacked up pretty well. The portion was a decent size. I think I would have liked my egg a little larger but that is personal preference. There was plenty of zing inside the tartare and it was seasoned perfectly. It came with toasted sourdough, which looked greasy on first inspection but was actually surprisingly crisp. On the other side of the table I think she had gone to heaven. She was not only saying this was the best fish soup she had ever had but the best soup she had tasted full stop. This was high praise indeed. It was not luke-warm and was a generous portion (perhaps a little large for a starter but that didn’t stop her!). There were decent sized croutons served separately with cheese and rouille. She felt it was good to have to option of having this in the soup or not.

Grilled lemon sole (top), haddock and chips (bottom) - Ondine

Grilled lemon sole (top), haddock and chips (bottom) – Ondine

My main was grilled lemon sole and looked pretty on the plate. It came with cockles, which I had never tried before. I enjoyed them and though they had a good taste of the sea without losing its own flavour. The fish itself was big and meaty. Perhaps a bit more meaty that I was expecting. It has a good crust from grilling and was packed with flavour. The dish was also scattered with chorizo which, whilst packed with flavour, also seemed overly salty for my palate, so much so that the dish became too salty for me to cope with and I couldn’t finish it, which was a shame. My dining partner enjoyed the fish and chips. You can tell the quality of the restaurant by whether they give you muslin over the lemon so you don’t get seeds in your dinner. The battered haddock was a large size but was spoilt a bit by being placed directly onto the pea puree, as it made the batter soggy underneath. The chips were thin and crispy. I pinched a few and can confirm they were pretty amazing.

Apple and toffee crumble tart - Ondine

Apple and toffee crumble tart – Ondine

We weren’t sure we could face dessert as we were so full but gave it a good go anyway. The tart was nice and the apple had not turned into mush and was still identifiable. It was tainted a little by the nuts in the topping, which I felt were a bit too bitter for the dish and knocked away the delicate spicing of the fruit. It came with a small jug of custard which I thought was a bit too thin for such a robust pudding but was nice nevertheless. The posset was tasty and tangy with little meringues dotted on top. The lemon curd was sharp and tangy.

Overall this was a solid dining experience. The staff were efficient and kept their distance. The venue itself had a nice atmosphere and decent music in the background. The food was ok in general, which a couple of highlights that stood out.

Food – 7/10

Service – 8/10

Atmosphere – 9/10

Value – 7/10

Overall – 31/40

Cost – £89 for two three course meals and 1 glass of wine.