The Panty - Colinton

Hungry Herbivore at The Pantry (Colinton) – Mini Review

30th March 2018 7.30pm

www.thepantryedinburgh.co.uk

As regular readers of this blog will know, I am friends with Emma from Vegan Edinburgh and Ann from A Quirky Lifestyle. Emma had been invited along to the Hungry Herbivore supper club at The Pantry, so Ann and I thought we’d get ourselves tickets and keep her company. The Pantry have a number of venues across the capital now, but this supper club was at the Colinton branch, which is a beautiful building both inside and out. All the diners were sat communally around two long tables and the set menu for the evening was on each place setting, studded with a sprig of rosemary. I did look a bit odd sniffing my menu but I didn’t care.

The manager introduced us to the evening, which was vegetarian (with vegan adaptions already built into the menu). Almost all the paired wines were vegan too – and when they weren’t, a vegan wine was still provided as an alternative. We started the evening with some appetisers, which consisted of a trio of dips. There was beetroot hummus; chickpea, pumpkin and cumin; and butter bean and spinach. They were served on small pieces of seeded bread which were made in-house. As you can imagine, these had great colour and tasted yummy, but could have possibly done with a touch more seasoning.

Appetisers - The Pantry

Appetisers – The Pantry

The next course was creamy wild mushrooms with garlic and parsley, served on sourdough toast with a runny duck egg. The egg was not served on the vegan dish. This was a lush dish with the egg oozing beautifully over the mushrooms. The mushrooms managed to still feel substantial and carried a wonderful flavour as well as texture. Top notch.

Mushrooms on Toast - The Pantry

Mushrooms on Toast – The Pantry

We then moved onto the herby gnocchi as our main. This was probably my favourite of the courses. The gnocchi came with pesto, grilled courgettes, peas, pine nuts, pea shoots, fridge and radish. It was a truly spring dish and danced in my mouth with flavours. Again, I’d have liked a little more seasoning but it’s a minor quibble. The vegan offering had different pasta but otherwise had pretty much the same elements.

Dessert came in the form of a lemon and blueberry fool. This consisted of lemon curd, meringue, blueberry compote and whipped cream. This was a refreshing palate of flavours and finished the meal off nicely. Emma had a lovely hunk of orange cake, which she kindly let me try. It was light and zingy. She was exceedingly happy with her dessert.

We had fun at this evening and they are holding different themes at each supper club, so it’s worthwhile checking out their website for something that might take your fancy.

Cost £39 per person or £59 for two, including wine.

A cod and a prawn taco - Bodega

Bodega (Tollcross)

28th March 2018 6pm

www.ilovebodega.com

I’ve had Bodega recommended to me a couple of times and decided to give their Tollcross branch a whirl. With plenty of Mexican places popping up in the city, I wondered whether it would hold its own.

Margarita - Bodega

Margarita – Bodega

A smallish venue, we were warmly greeted and grabbed a table by the window. The menu is short but still manages to give you plenty of choice. Our friendly server recommended that we should have two different flavoured tacos each (each filling comes in two tacos) and then any starters and sides we fancied. We decided to go for one starter between us – the warm black bean and melted cheese dip – and then chose four tacos. We selected the carne asada steak, Vietnamese pork, tempura tiger prawns and baja cod bites. We also ordered the scallion fries as a side. We decided to get a couple of the incredible value margaritas at £5 a pop too.

Warm black bean and melted cheese dip - Bodega

Warm black bean and melted cheese dip – Bodega

A mildly spicy dip was brought to the table and shortly after the black bean dip followed with a generous bowl of tortilla chips. If you ignore the fact that black beans have a habit of getting stuck around your teeth, this was an excellent starter. The dip had a lovely depth and the cheese was harmonious with it. We scooped our way through this pretty quickly but it is a lot for one person so sharing is recommended unless you are really hungry.

Scallion Fries - Bodega

Scallion Fries – Bodega

Whilst we were waiting for the tacos, the scallion fries came out. Personally, these were the highlight of the meal. Long pieces of spring onion were lightly battered and came with a mustard dip. These were so moreish I could have eaten several bowls of them. I would also visit again just to eat these.

A cod and a prawn taco - Bodega

A cod and a prawn taco – Bodega

The tacos came out and we mixed and matched so the pair of us had one taco of each of the four fillings we had chosen. Each taco brought something different to the palate. My favourite was the carne asada steak taco. It was weighty and full of flavour The chipotle dressing and soured cream pulled it all together nicely. My friend chose the tiger prawn taco as her favourite. The prawns came with a slaw and a sesame-chilli dressing.

Whilst we were totally full already, we could not resist to allure of churros. So we ordered some to share between us. My friend used to live in Spain for a while, so has high standards when it comes to churros. These got the thumbs up, particularly praising the thickness of the accompanying chocolate sauce. I thought they were lush and easily scoffed my share. Goodness knows where I managed to put it though!

Churros - Bodega

Churros – Bodega

We had a great time at Bodega. The staff were friendly, the food was delicious and we are already planning to go back again.

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

Overall – 34/40

Would I eat here again? Yes, frequently

Cost £63 for one starter, four taco plates, one side, one dessert, three margaritas and a glass of wine

Vouno - Taxidi

Taxidi

14th March 2018 6pm

www.facebook.com/Taxidi-107882179904212

We had been recommended Taxidi from a colleague whose husband is Greek, so we took this as a serious endorsement. Situated on Brougham Place, Taxidi is a small, cosy and inviting venue. The menu is varied and has salads, classics and sharing plates. We decided to be brave and attempt the vouno mixed grill which is for 2-3 people. Our server double checked that we were sure, as it was a lot of food, but we gallantly continued with our order. We also ordered some tzatziki on the side to help it all slide down.

Vouno - Taxidi

Vouno – Taxidi

As the food came out, it became apparent that they weren’t wrong about the side of the mixed grill. It was so large that it came on its own little table-top table. Piled onto it were 2 souvlaki, 2 pork belly pieces, 2 sausages, 2 chicken thighs, 4 mpifteki, slaw and copious amounts of pitta and chips. All the meat had wonderful flavour and nothing was overcooked. The chicken, in particular, was very moist. The pitta bread was light in texture and the chips has some beautiful seasoning on them that really made them taste that little bit special. The slaw was not swimming in creamy sauce which was good. We used the tzatziki to provide that element. Whilst we were happily munching away, a couple of women on a table by the window had managed to set their menu on fire (how on earth they managed this I will never know) and seemed to be fanning the flames rather than actually putting it out. Luckily staff came to the rescue and put the fire out. After all that commotion, our server was apologetic for the disturbance but impressed to see we had demolished the mixed grill, even if we had left a few chips and pitta pieces behind. He offered to have that bagged up to take home but we felt it wouldn’t travel well so declined.

Orange Cake - Taxidi

Orange Cake – Taxidi

We were stuffed but my friend insisted on getting a slice of the orange cake for dessert, which she then made me help her eat. It wasn’t quite what she was expecting, with a slightly jelly like consistency on the outside but the centre of the cake was much better (apologies for the photo of the half eaten cake). Unsurprisingly though, we couldn’t finish the cake but my friend did take up the opportunity to bag it and take it home.

Taxidi is a nice little find and certainly worth investigating if you are wanting some Greek cuisine.

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

Overall – 32/40

Would I eat here again? Yup.

Cost £47 for tzatziki, vouno slice of orange cake and a glass of wine

Deep fried shredded beef in chilli - Golden Dragon

The Golden Dragon Restaurant

20th January 2018 7.45pm

www.thegoldendragonrestaurant.co.uk

A friend and I had taken a trip up to Edinburgh Zoo to see the Giant Lanterns of China and it subconsciously got us in the mood for Chinese food. We headed back into town and had originally intended to visit Rendezvous but it was closed for a break, so we wandered along to The Golden Dragon Restaurant. It’s one of those places in a central location but so easily overlooked. Inside, the Golden Dragon is an old style Chinese restaurant – so nothing flash but focussing on great food and warm hospitality.

The Golden Dragon Restaurant

We settled down to look at the menu and I was delighted to spy char siu dumplings, so opted for that immediately. I added some deep fried shredded beef and my friend chose salt and pepper prawns to start and chicken satay for main. We decided to share mains so also got some egg fried rice between us. After ordering my friend spotted a sign on the wall saying their customers rated the shredded beef the best in Edinburgh. A bold claim that we could test them on. But first, the starters.

My char siu dumplings came as a pair and were white and fluffy on the outside and full of tasty pork on the inside. Not too spicy, these buns are quite filling but so satisfying. Across from me, the prawns sat on top of a bed of salad. They were coated in batter and chillis were scattered across the dish. My friend heartily enjoyed this starter, finding the prawns of good quality and size and the flavour was hitting the spot.

The mains came along not long after and smelt divine. They say you eat with your eyes, but your nose also plays a part and it was telling me to hurry up and get stuck into the delicious smelling food. The deep fried shredded beef was quite subtle in its appearance, unlike other places where it’s been day-glo orange. The beef was crispy rather than chewy and the coating didn’t hide the beef. The sauce itself was full of depth and complexity that surprised me. Spring onions gave a nice contrast too. I have to say, it is definitely the best deep fried shredded beef that I have had in Edinburgh, and possibly ever. The satay was also ticking all the flavour boxes. The chicken was moist and the vegetables not over cooked. The satay sauce itself was not too thick and had a gorgeous nutty tasty. The egg fried rice worked well between the two of us and mopped up those sauces well.

This was a wonderful find and somewhere central that gave a satisfying meal. We really enjoyed the food.

Food – 9.10
Service – 9/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Value – 8/10

Overall – 33/40

Would I eat here again? Yes.

Cost £50 for two starters, two mains, one rice and four coke zeros.

Cafe Andaluz

Cafe Andaluz (George IV Bridge)

19th January 2018 5.30pm

www.cafeandaluz.com/restaurants/edinburgh-old-town

We reviewed the George Street branch of Café Andaluz back in 2016 but thought we’d give the new branch in Old Town a whirl. Situated on George IV Bridge, the restaurant has views over to the Castle – but it was night and we weren’t near a window, so we appreciated the beautifully tiled décor instead. There is also a giant bull statue at the front of the restaurant that is pretty impressive. Café Andaluz has a number of offers and we availed ourselves of the three tapas and a dessert from £16.95 per person (some supplements for a few dishes can make it slightly more expensive). I picked patatas bravas, ensalada Andaluza and the calamares. My friend chose the chorizo al vino, carne de res picante and vieiras con serrano. Without appreciating how quickly this would all come out, we also ordered some bread with oil and some olives. We also got a couple of frozen margaritas to get the weekend started.

We made a start on the bread and olives but within about 10 minutes, all our plates came out together. The smells emanating from the dishes were saliva-inducing. There was no weak plate amongst them but the highlights were the carne de res picante and vieiras con serrano. The carne de res picante was a bed of rocket with manchego and chorizo oil that had strips of steak on top. The vieiras con Serrano were beautiful scallops with Serrano ham which sat on a bed of creamed leeks. All of the dishes are easily shared but they taste so good you may not want to. Keep that in mind and make strategic choices when ordering!

Cafe Andaluz

Cafe Andaluz

We’d polished off our cocktails, which were excellent. We decided to order a couple more drinks and find a way to squeeze in desserts. I chose the churros and my friend chose trifle. I have to say that the churros were excellent with a beautiful crispy exterior, sugared to perfection, and the chocolate dipping sauce was delicious. The trifle was also enjoyed.

This branch is just as good as the one on George Street and is a good alternative if you are in Old Town.

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

Overall – 33.5/40

Would I eat here again? Yes

Cost £72 for two of the three tapas and a dessert deals plus bread, olives and four cocktails.

White Horse Oyster and Seafood Bar

14th November 2017 6.30pm

www.whitehorseoysterbar.co.uk

A group of us had been eagerly awaiting the opening of the White Horse Oyster and Seafood Bar and we took the opportunity of a friend’s birthday to visit. It’s a long and thin restaurant, decorated in dark wood but has a sophisticated yet relaxed feel. We were greeted by our server, who frankly was delightful and knowledgeable throughout. We ordered some drinks and perused the menu. There were a host of small plates, platters and mains. We decided to order a host of small plates between us as well as a platter.

img_1814

The small plates arrived and took over the table. We had two crab scotch eggs, crab fries, monkfish satay and crispy chilli squid. We had half a scotch egg each. We all thought they were incredibly tasty, although lacking a little bit of a runny yolk but the egg certainly wasn’t over done. The crab fries were a big hit. The fries were seasoned well and the slightly sweet crab meat voluminously perched on top. The pickled samphire added a lovely complimentary element. My favourite, the monkfish satay, came on metal skewers and was generous in portion. The satay had a bit of a kick, which was a pleasant surprise and the fish was cooked to perfection. The crispy chilli squid rounded off the small plates, with an accompanying ponzu dressing and wasabi mayo, the latter of which I couldn’t get enough of. Delicious!

The house platter then arrived. This was an impressive display. Admittedly, this had more oysters on than we were expecting (12 to be precise), so if you are not a big fan, one of the other platters may be more suitable. The oysters came with an assortments of dressings, including something which was incredibly hot, so you could have them how you wanted. We all tucked in, although it took one of the party a bit of encouragement before she had one. They were incredibly fresh and slide down very easily. On the upper tier of the platter, there was a host of delights. The tuna tartare was exceptional and using some of the wasabi mayo on top was a beautiful thing. The scotch bonnet salmon was also a hit with the table. More crab was available through both a dressed crab and crab claws, and on top of that were the amazing pickled mussels and clams, which were somehow sweet in their pickling and were a joy to eat. Additional to this was some chunky bread which also got the thumbs up. One of the group also ordered a side of hassleback potatoes which I didn’t try but were deemed to be excellent.

As seafood is relatively light, we had a little bit of space for dessert. I chose the chocolate delice, two friends shared the apple tart and one chose a scoop of the salted caramel ice cream with an espresso martini on the side. The chocolate in the delice was deep and delicious. Ice cream and berries on the side helped cut through the richness. My friends were raving about the apple tart and the ice cream was also massively enjoyed. The only complaint was that the espresso martini was too cold.

We loved our visit here. Our server made us feel incredibly welcome and wished our friend a happy birthday not only at the mention of the birthday but also as we left. We felt valued as customers, which in combination with the food means that we are very likely to return.

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

Overall – 38/40

Would I eat here again? Yes, definitely.

Cost £200 for 5 small plates, the house platter, three desserts, two cocktails, two bottles of wine and a sherry.

Bruscetta - La Favorita

La Favorita

24th May 2017 7.30pm

www.vittoriagroup.co.uk/lafavorita/

This was a long overdue catch up with fellow bloggers Emma from Vegan Edinburgh and Ann from A Quirky Lifestyle. We usually let Emma pick the venue as her requirements are a higher priority. She was shocked to hear that whilst I’d had take away from La Favorita, I’d not actually dined in. Ann hadn’t either, so this had to be rectified. I booked a table, and we were given the opportunity to give any dietary requirements and to let them know if the booking was for a special event. So we forewarned them that we had a vegan in our midsts.

It was a little hectic on arrival, with little space by the reception desk, which is situated after the bar area. Our table wasn’t ready so we sat in the waiting area for about 5 minutes or so before being seated. Once seated at our table, Emma double checked the vegan options (click here for the Vegan Edinburgh review) with the waitress. After scanning the generously sized menu, I went for the calamari fritti followed by a 10 inch Hawaii pizza (14 inch are also available). Emma chose bruschetta followed by the vegetariana but with vegan cheese substituting the standard cheese. Ann went for crocchette di merluzzo (fish cakes) and asked for a pizza recommendation from the waitress. She gave three options and Ann chose the Campione di Scozia. A G&T, Diet Coke and a cocktail were also ordered (the latter again on recommendation of the waitress).

When the first course came, they were in a variety of sizes. The bruschetta was huge and the fishcakes were small and my calamari fritti were somewhere in the middle. The fritti actually consisted of both baby squid and anchovies. The squid was nice, particularly when dipped in the garlic mayonnaise. However, I was a little disappointed with the anchovies as they were unbelievably salty. They also broke as you tried to pick one up, so it almost ended up as a salty, fishy crumb, which was a shame. The bruschetta was large so if you don’t eat it quickly the bread can become a little soggy. However, it went down well. I think just be mindful of portion sizes and balance it well with your choice of mains. The crocchette di merluzzo were also being enjoyed and the plate was cleared.

The pizzas followed shortly after and the 10 inch pizzas were definitely big enough after a starter. There was plenty of topping on my pizza and the flavours were really good. I love a good thin base and this was pretty decent. I couldn’t manage to finish it all though but had made a valiant effort. The Campione di Scozia pizza was generally well received but she found the cheese a little too much. She didn’t make as much headway with her pizza but was offered a take out box in order to transport it home, which she took them up on. The vegetariana was wolfed down. It appeared that the way La Favorita dispersed the vegan cheese as a topping has changed by using smaller cubes, making the pizza much more enjoyable. A thumbs up for the vegan option.

We were all way too stuffed to have dessert, but La Favorita offers some decent pizzas.

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

Overall – 30/40

Would I eat here again? Probably

Cost £63 for three starters and mains plus a cocktail, a G&T and a Diet Coke