Beef Tataki Ramen - Maki and Ramen

Maki and Ramen – Leith St

4th August 2018 8.30pm

www.makimaki-restaurant.co.uk

In the middle of festival madness, we decided to pop into newly opened Maki and Ramen on Leith Street on the way home from a show. Part of the growing Edinburgh Maki and Ramen empire, it became clear on the inside that the branding meant that this was actually Ramen and Ramen, with only a smattering of maki on the menu. We were happy with that though and I opted for the beef tataki ramen and my friend chose the tonkotsu ramen. We ordered some vegetable gyoza on the side.

Beef Tataki Ramen - Maki and Ramen

Beef Tataki Ramen – Maki and Ramen

We waited a fair while for the food and the bowls or ramen did not arrive at the same time, with me waiting at least another 5 minutes before mine appeared. We didn’t see the vegetable gyoza at all but we decided not to follow up based on the size of the ramen bowls (which we’re ginormous). Once my ramen arrived, the smell pulled me in. The broth was spicy, a little floral, and had delicious spring onion and seaweed running through it. Whilst the beef was good, there were only three slices, which seemed a little stingy based on the price of the bowl. The noodles were good but the egg on top was overdone, which made it less enjoyable. Across from me, initial delight at the tonkotsu ramen turned to dismay. The pork was great and the broth tasty but within the broth there was something charcoal-like. The flavour was fine but it turned the broth gritty to the point that it spoilt the rest of the dish. Again, there were only three slices of pork, which didn’t make it good value.

Tonkotsu Ramen - Maki and Ramen

Tonkotsu Ramen – Maki and Ramen

We asked for the bill and they tried to charge us for the gyoza but happily removed it from the bill when we pointed it out. Overall, we were a little disappointed with our meal.

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

Overall – 25/40

Would I eat here again? Probably not

£26 for two bowls of ramen and a Diet Coke

Sardines - Loch Fyne

Loch Fyne

3rd August 2018 1.30pm

www.lochfyneseafoodandgrill.co.uk/locations/edinburgh

I’ll be honest, we had been intending to try the Fishmarket at Newhaven but it was full, so we toddled along to Loch Fyne. It’s a light and airy venue with some lovely views. They offer a really reasonably priced lunch menu, which we decided to give a shot. We were advised that mussels were off the menu as they were not at their best at the moment (then why are they on the menu, I wonder?). Anyway, I opted for the sardines to start followed by the steak – with a supplement – for my main. My friends chose both the sardines and potted mackerel for their starters and both chose salmon fishcakes for their mains.

Sardines - Loch Fyne

Sardines – Loch Fyne

Potted Mackerel - Loch Fyne

Potted Mackerel – Loch Fyne

The starters were pretty decent. The chargrilled sardines were plentiful and had a really nice chilli and coriander dressing on top. I enjoyed the addition of Greek yoghurt to add to the fish. I’d never had sardines before but this was a good introduction. The potted mackerel was a little dull in comparison. It came with who generous sized pieces of toast but it all seemed a little mismatched. That said, my friend still enjoyed the dish enough.

Flat Iron Steak - Loch Fyne

Flat Iron Steak – Loch Fyne

Fries - Loch Fyne

Fries – Loch Fyne

The mains arrived but my steak came without its bearnaise sauce. I waited a little and then ended up asking a waiter if I’d misunderstood the menu. I had not. They had just forgotten it. As it was a flat iron steak, they recommended that it be cooked medium rather than the rare I would usually go for. It came perfectly cooked and was nice to eat. The watercress looked a little sad next to it though. My chips were also a bit hard and crunchy so weren’t the best. My two friends had both chosen then salmon fish cakes. Two fish cakes sat on top of wilted spinach with a creamy Provençal sauce. Whilst the both said they were nice, one of them discovered a massive (and I do mean massive) bone in her fish cake. It should have easily been spotted by the chef based on the size.

Salmon Fishcakes - Loch Fyne

Salmon Fishcakes – Loch Fyne

Two of us opted for dessert. I was tempted by the crème brulee and my friend chose the treacle taste. The crème brûlée was of a good standard. It was creamy with a lovely balance of vanilla. The shortbread alongside was a little superfluous though. My friend though the treacle tart was alright but wasn’t sure that it was orange but grapefruit that was presented with it.

Creme Brulee - Loch Fyne

Creme Brulee – Loch Fyne

Treacle Tart - Loch Fyne

Treacle Tart – Loch Fyne

Whilst the flavours were decent overall, somehow we left not overly impressed. The tables were sticky due to tired varnish and bits and pieces failed to deliver.

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

Overall – 30/40

Would I eat here again? At a push

Cost around £45 for two three course set lunches and one two course set lunch.

Brasserie Prince

Brasserie Prince

1st August 2018 12.30pm

www.roccofortehotels.com/hotels-and-resorts/the-balmoral-hotel/restaurants-and-bars/brasserie-prince/

Brasserie Prince opened to much fanfare recently. Situated in the Balmoral Hotel, the Roux family have opened a relaxed style restaurant. It was a little chaotic for us on arrival, which was odd considering that the restaurant was not very busy. There were two men in front of us who were speaking to one of the front of house staff. Another three or four staff were hovering. The men were taken to their table and then we were left there for a fair few minutes before finally being acknowledged and taken to our table, even though staff were shooting past us back and forth at quite a rate.

Steak Tartare - Brasserie Prince

Steak Tartare – Brasserie Prince

Fries - Brasserie Prince

Fries – Brasserie Prince

The menu is French on one side and English on the other. I’m not really sure what the point of that is other than coming across as a bit pretentious – or perhaps I’m getting grumpy as I get older. Anyway, if steak tartare is on the menu, I like to try it. This was at an eye watering £27 but as it was just after pay day I thought I’d see what exacl;y was so special about it to justify the price tag, which was quite a bit more than many other items on the menu. My friend opted for the rump steak.

Rump steak - Brasserie Prince

Rump steak – Brasserie Prince

My steak tartare came with fries. This was the only thing that was different – well apart from being hidden under a mound of greenery and parmesan. The flavour was good and the quality of the meat was clear. The fries were decent enough. However, whilst nice, it was no better than what I can get elsewhere in the city for half the price. Across the table from me, the steak was being appreciated. This came with onion rings and French fries. It looked quite uninspiring in the plate though. That said, the steak was cooked well and was gobbled up by my friend.

Dark Chocolate Mousse - Brasserie Prince

Dark Chocolate Mousse – Brasserie Prince

We clearly had room for dessert, so I chose the dark chocolate mousse and my dining companion opted for the seasonal fresh fruit tart. My mousse was simple but beautiful. It was accompanied by some Gavottes biscuits which were incredibly light. My friend was a little disappointed with her fruit tart. She had been hoping for some kind of crème patisserie in it with a selection of fruit on top but what transpired was a fruit purée with two fruits on top, albeit plentiful. This was still a nice dessert but perhaps needs a little more explanation on the menu.

Seasonal Fruit Tart - Brasserie Prince

Seasonal Fruit Tart – Brasserie Prince

Overall we felt underwhelmed by Brasserie Prince. It was expensive for what it was. No doubt it will do well on the name and location but I’d pick many other places to eat before this one.

Food – 7.5/10
Service – 7.5/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Value – 6/10

Overall – 28/40

Would I eat here again? Maybe but unlikely.

£77 for two mains and two desserts plus a glass of wine.

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