Andrew Usher and Co

5th November 2015 1pm

NOW CLOSED

http://andrewushers.co.uk/

Andrew Usher and Co

Andrew Usher and Co

I visited with a friend for lunch here on his recommendation. Well he had suggested Whistlestop as he’d not been but as I’d eaten there the evening before, we went here. This venue has been many guises over the few years. However, they brew on site here for those of you that like that sort of thing. You can also see some of it going on behind some glass in the dining area. I thought this place had a nice pub feel. This pub offers a regular selection of burgers, dugs, pub classics such as fish and chips and mac n cheese. There are also some specials available at a very reasonable price. I deliberated but went for a classic American dug whereas my friend went for a special of meatloaf and then a side of mac n cheese, claiming we might share it (I knew he would eat it all).

Andrew Usher and Co

Andrew Usher and Co

We had a little wait for the food, probably longer than I would have expected considering what we ordered and that there were a only a couple of other diners in there. Anyway, it wasn’t an inordinate wait, particularly as we were having a good catch up. The food arrived and we got stuck in. My hot dog was massive and had a generous portion of onions. The mustard was nowhere to be seen but I had some ketchup to make up for it. The bread was really good for this kind of food. Shame it was quite crumbly and actually collapsed on me, so I had to finish it with a knife and fork but it was worth it for bread that had some oomph to it. The string fries that came with it were cooked well and plentiful. On the other side of the table, the meatloaf had been ordered to satisfy some curiosities. Firstly, to see how generous the portion was for a special. Secondly, to find out what meatloaf was actually like. The portion was a very reasonable size, so they are not skimping on the specials menu, should you wish to order from it. His conclusion was that meatloaf was decent. He also devoured the Mac and cheese, which came with a large hunk of bread. Although I was offered some, I wasn’t going to stand in his way and polished off almost all of it.

Overall, Ushers does the job. The food is not going to blow your socks off but you’ll leave feeling full and satisfied.

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

Overall – 29.5/40

Cost £22 for hotdog with fries, meatloaf, mac n cheese and 2 diet cokes

Andrew Usher & Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Whistle Stop Barber Shop

4th November 2015 5.45pm

www.whistlestopedinburgh.co.uk

Cocktails - Whistle Stop Barber Shop

Cocktails – Whistle Stop Barber Shop

Whistle Stop Barber Shop is relatively new and resides in the former residence of Rascals, across the road from Old College on South Bridge. Another voucher deal brought us here, offering two burgers, pizzas or hot dogs plus a cocktail from a limited set of 4 for £14. The venue was welcoming, with muted tones and barber paraphernalia adorning the walls. Friendly staff gave us the menus. The cocktail offering from the deal was short (although we could see the main cocktail menu on the table so new we’d probably order more later). I opted for the Pina daiquiri, which was essentially rum, pineapple and lime and my friend went for a poire soiree, which was a great combination of vodka, lime, pear syrup and ginger beer. Both of these cocktails were scrumptious, even if mine was decorated with what appeared to be a pineapple moustache! Food wise, I ordered a whistle stop burger and my dining partner went for a pompadour burger. Whilst we waited, we were entertained with some great 90’s music, including Neneh Cherry, Mark Morrison and Another Level.

Burgers and desserts - Whistle Stop Barber Shop

Burgers and desserts – Whistle Stop Barber Shop

When the burgers arrived, I have to say I was a bit taken aback as mine was massive with two beef patties, which I hadn’t realised, so it was quite towering. I double checked the menu and it didn’t say that two burgers would be included in this. However, as you can imagine, I managed to soldier on! The accompanying chips were laid on plate. There were not masses of chips but it was just right for me. I did find it a bit weird to be served all this on a plate but still also on a piece of grease proof paper. In order to dig in I thought I would need to cut the burger in half to cope. However, this was impossible. It would have been better if the bun have been firmly toasted so it was more sturdy. So, I got hands on but it was a bit of a struggle. However, it was a tasty burger. The chips were fine. On the other side of the table, the chicken burger was decent but she felt it was a bit lacking. We think overall it was just missing some oomph.

Cocktails - Whistle Stop Barber Shop

Cocktails – Whistle Stop Barber Shop

As we decided that we were going to have another cocktail, we thought we’d try the desserts. They have some promos for cocktails at a bargain stealing £3.95. My friend went for the Fashion Killa from this menu, which was run, martini rosato, pink grapefruit, lemon and some strawberry syrup. I went for one from the main menu called a Coney Island Coaster, which is vodka, blood orange liqueur, raspberry, lemon and candy floss syrup. These were both fun drinks. As for desserts, I went for a banana split and my friend went for the New York cheesecake. The banana split was simple and filling but I felt a little underwhelmed. My friend’s cheesecake was served with chocolate sauce which didn’t seem to work. She thought it needed a sharp fruit sauce to cut through creaminess of cheesecake.

Overall Whistle Stop Barber Shop has a great cocktail range. The food isn’t spectacular but decent enough.

Food – 7/10
Service – 8/10
Atmosphere – 9/10
Value – 8/10 (9/10 with voucher)

Overall – 32/40

Cost with voucher £25. True cost £50

The Whistle Stop Barber Shop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Whigham’s Wine Cellar

27th October 2015 6.15pm

www.whighams.com

Cullen Skink - Whighams

Cullen Skink – Whighams

Yet another voucher deal (we seem to have had a few of these lately), this time for Whighams. A colleague at work had said the deal seemed good value. So, a friend and I decided to give it a go. The deal consisted of a starter and a main plus a glass of prosecco for two for £26. I had never been to Whighams before. The venue is well established, set just off Charlotte Square. Inside, it has two distinct areas. One is all nooks and crannies from what I assume were cellar areas and the other section is much more modern. We were taken to the modern part for our dinner. The waitress who served us was very pleasant and helpful. I believe from my friend that the prosecco was very good. As I couldn’t have that, I was able to swap my prosecco to a soft drink (which was offered as an option on the voucher) and we were left to peruse the menu. Much of the fish and seafood had supplements on them for the deal as, unsurprisingly, did the steak. If you didn’t want to pay the extra this did limit the options a bit. However, in the end I plumped for the chicken liver pate followed by fish cakes. My dining partner went for Cullen skink followed by breaded haddock (although she had the choice of battered or grilled too so it was nice to have choice). We got given some bread, albeit a little dry, to keep us going but it wasn’t needed considering how quickly the starters came out.

Chicken Liver Pate - Whighams

Chicken Liver Pate – Whighams

So, let’s talk about the starters. The chicken liver pate was accompanied by a shallot marmalade, oatcakes and a small salad. The pate was smooth but was a little overpowered by the added herby flavours. The shallot marmalade was nice but there was not nearly enough of it to go with the pate. The oatcakes seemed a little small and fiddley to put the pate on (or maybe that’s me and my fat fingers!). The salad was pleasant enough and the dressing was nice but perhaps applied too liberally. The Cullen skink on the other side of the table looked appetising and did the job but nothing more.

Fish cakes - Whighams

Fish cakes – Whighams

The mains came out not long after and I do have to say I was underwhelmed. This looked like poor standard chain pub food. Sadly, the taste really wasn’t much better. My fish cakes, whilst had plenty of fish in them, where incredibly dry and were only saved by the wetness of the side of tartare sauce. The salad that came with it was the same salad that had appeared with my starter. Whilst I was pleased it had no cucumber, it really didn’t feel like it was part of the dish and it was still overwhelmed by the dressing. This could almost been another starter dish had it not been for the size of the fish cakes. On the other side of the table, another underwhelming dish. The fish was ok but nothing special. The chips seemed to be deep fried oven chips rather than freshly prepared (and if they weren’t, they certainly tasted like it). The samphire looked limp on the plate.

Haddock - Whighams

Haddock – Whighams

My perception of a voucher deal is to wow the customer when you get them through the door so they will either buy extra or come back again and pay full price. Whighams sadly managed to do neither. We couldn’t face having a disappointing dessert too so left….and we won’t be going back.

Food – 5/10
Service – 7.5/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Value – 6/10

Overall – 25.5/40

Cost – £26 for the voucher deal for two.

Whigham's Wine Cellars Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

56 North

23rd October 2015 12.15pm

www.fiftysixnorth.co.uk

Bloody Mary - 56 North

Bloody Mary – 56 North

I nipped into 56 North for a quick bite to eat with a work colleague. 56 North is a regular stop off for work/lunch meetings. Obviously, being at work meant no booze but here is a picture of a Bloody Mary I had here in August. 56 North is a gin specialist and you’ll be able to find a gin to suit you with their choice running into the hundreds I believe. Their food offering has changed over the years. I do miss the flatbreads they used to do as you could kid yourself that you were eating something vaguely healthy and they were also good value for money. Now their main offering is burgers, with some other mains, starters and sharing platters available as well as breakfasts. We had a choice of most tables on arrival so we sat in one of the cosy booths. A quick lunch meant no starters. We both went for original burgers (which is actually a cheese burger) but I went for it with steak mince burger and my colleague went for a butterflied chicken breast burger. She asked for it with no added bits. The friendly staff were happy to accommodate her request.

Original burger - 56 North

Original burger – 56 North

We didn’t have to wait very long for food, which is essential over the lunch period. It looked fairly appetising. The brioche bun held together cheese, steak mince burger, spicy tomato chutney and gherkins. The gherkins were massive, essentially about a four inch pickle sliced in half lengthways. Whilst sweet in tone, after a few mouthfuls that was all I could taste so had to take the rest out of the burger. After that, the burger was quite tasty, even if a bit messy to eat, with the chutney meaning everything was sliding around (but hey, that’s part of the fun). The chips were flavoursome. The ketchup on the table was a bit too vinegary (and I don’t mind a vinegar heavy ketchup usually) which was a bit of a shame. The chicken burger on the other side of the table was enjoyed. She thought it hit the spot, although a bit of rogue lettuce sneaked in still.

This bar was surprisingly quiet for a Friday lunchtime but can often be packed to the rafters. The food was decent enough, but not mind blowing. I was quite thirsty all afternoon so I wonder how much flavour had been contributed through salt but nevertheless, the meal did the job.

Food – 7/10
Service – 8.5/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Value – 7.5/10

Overall – 30/40

Cost £25 for two burgers and two soft drinks.

56 North Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Spit/Fire

NOW CLOSED

8th October 2015 – 6pm

http://spitfirebars.com/

My friend had bought us a voucher deal for Spit/Fire, which is brought to you by the same peeps as the Hanging Bat. She experienced quite a bit of difficulty getting the table booked and it took about four attempts, both online and on the phone. Not a good start. However, I’m not one to let these sorts of things get in the way of me and my food.

Spit/Fire

Spit/Fire

Situated on Dublin Street, we went down a few steps and entered a smallish venue. However, we only got to see the upstairs section as that was where we were dining but there is another dining experience on the lower floor of the restaurant. It seemed like a nice place, Although the white tiling did make it look a little cold, but was balanced up by some lovely red cushions. The voucher we had was for a bun with hand cut chips each. There was a choice of 4 meat options and one veggie. Drinks orders were taken. I asked for Diet Coke but they were sold out. So I quickly opted for the full fat version without thinking and bounced off the walls on the sugar. The drink was served in a can so surely they could have got a few in from a local shop, particularly for such a regularly chosen drink. My friend went for beer which was much more straightforward, again served in a can. We continued to gaze over the menu. The choices were all tasty looking. Also, off the voucher deal some of the ribs sounded amazing. In the end I went for the shredded duck bun and my dining companion went for pulled beef brisket.

Shredded duck bun

Shredded duck bun

We did not have to wait too long for our food. They were plated in enamel baking dishes. As the dish was cold, the chips went cold quickly. However, they were proper chips and tasted good. The bun was toasted slightly but was still soft and filled with tons of meat. So much so it was tumbling out of the roll. The meat was moist but perhaps didn’t offer as much flavour as I was expecting.. The slaw in the roll was crunchy and the plum sauce was quite sweet but not cloyingly so. A similar experience was had with the brisket. The gherkins cut finely so they weren’t too intrusive but complaints about cooling chips spoilt it a bit.

Whilst the ingredients at Spit/Fire were of good quality, I am not sure whether I’d pay full price for what was decent but not spectacular food. If I was in the area I’d pop in but I wasn’t wowed enough to make me purposefully visit.

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

Overall – 29/40
Deal £12 drinks £5. Full price closer to £30.

Spit/Fire - Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mother’s

NOW CLOSED

8th September 2015 6pm

www.mothersedinburgh.co.uk/

I was invited to try out Mothers by the new guy who has just taken over the kitchen and is trying to expand food side of the business. All credit to him that we were offered the option to go secretly to review. However as it is not my purpose to try to catch out restaurants, I was happy for them to know when I’d be there. As a bonus I was offered a gin flight, which was a nice touch.

Mother's

Mother’s

Mothers is situated on Howe St and has a cute frontage, including a fake lawn to welcome you. We entered in and found a relaxing setting inside. We went to bar and whilst waited to be shown to our table, spotted a small dog wearing a bow tie sat at the bar with his owner. Whilst gin bars can come across as pretentious, Mothers doesn’t fit into that category (apart, perhaps, from the dog at the bar). We were shown to our table by the front window which was a nice spot. However, there are booths throughout the venue. We settled down and had a look at the menu, which the waitress did apologise for being on such massive boards. The menu had a select variety of options. Starters ranges from bruschetta to kedgeree cake and mains from a toastie to a pan roasted breast of chicken. I’m not sure if Mothers is confident with its direction yet as the menu seemed a little confused but we certainly were struggling to nail down which of the tasty sounding options to try.

The gin flight then arrived. We were given four gins to try between us and two tonics. This was where the front of house staff really excelled. It was clear there was a passion and knowledge of gin. However, this was all carried out with a bit of cheeky banter (without being over the top ) and really engaged us. If you are wanting to try something new, you can feel confident they will pick something right for your palate, as we were correctly directed to the drinks that suited our differing taste buds (I like sweet and fruity where my friend prefers a more bitter drink). The garnishes and tonics were a perfect match.

Ham hock terrine and chicken bites - Mother's

Ham hock terrine and chicken bites – Mother’s

We then got down to the business of ordering the food. I went for Brazilian chicken bites to start followed by a Thai inspired salmon dish. My friend went for a ham hock terrine followed by fish and chips. Once the starters were brought to the table, we were ready to tuck in and the presentation encouraged us to do just so. My Brazilian style chicken bites were not quite what I expected but that was a good thing. The chicken was pulled and held together in lightly coated ball shapes. The spicing was just right, with enough flavour to make your mouth dance but not require a fire extinguisher. The accompanying coriander and lime dip worked well to balance and was a generous portion for plentiful dipping. My only issue was that it was quite thin so I dripped it down myself (I am such a messy eater). On the other side of the table, the terrine was going down a treat. The toast was good and I have to say I was a little envious. The terrine was full of flavour and my friend, who is often dubious of chutney, really enjoyed the pear chutney and felt it was a perfect accompaniment.

Fish and chips and salmon - Mother's

Fish and chips and salmon – Mother’s

Onto the mains and the salmon looked appetising. Cutting into it was effortless as the fish flaked beautifully. The salmon was on top of a sweet potato and coriander potato cake and some aubergine slices. There were a couple of crisp courgette slices on top. All this was surrounded by a coconut sauce, with Thai spices. The sauce was the right amount and didn’t drown the fish. Maybe the skin could have been a little crisper but that might be personal taste. The fish and chips were a generous portion. The chips weren’t the most appetising to look at by my friend said they were cooked well and had great flavour. She would have liked them a bit more crispy but I like my chips softer. You cannot please everybody! Notoriously, my dining companion doesn’t like peas but enjoyed these. She thought perhaps there was lemon and butter on them to perk them up.

Cheesecake - Mother's

Cheesecake – Mother’s

We couldn’t manage a full dessert each. So, upon recommendation, we went for the peanut and caramel cheesecake to share. What a good recommendation that was. The cheesecake was not too heavy and the caramel sauce was not sickly sweet as it was broken up with flakes of chocolate and bits of peanut. We managed to devour this easily and quickly.

Staff showed passion and enthusiasm and really made us feel welcome . We could also see it wasn’t just to impress us. Diners across the venue were all being treated with the same enthusiasm.

The food was solid and the service first class. Whilst I think the menu needs a little tweaking to move to the next level, we are already planning to go back to try one of the sharing platters and some more gin.

Food – 7.5/10
Service – 10/10
Atmosphere – 9/10
Value – 8/10

Overall – 34.5/40

Cost – complimentary but I guess it would have been around the £55 mark depending on the gin prices

Please note that whilst this meal was complimentary, views expressed are my own. Thanks to Jimmy for arranging.

Mother's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Treacle

30th August 2015 10am

www.treacleedinburgh.co.uk

Scottish Breakfast - Treacle

Scottish Breakfast – Treacle

We decided to go to Treacle for breakfast to get us set up for another day of festival-ing. We had been here before and thought the breakfasts were decent and have also had some good cocktails here (not at the same time as the breakfasts though!). The funky décor means that this place is often popular with the trendy set of an evening. Upon arrival, we were disappointed to find that the revamped menu did not include a full Scottish veggie breakfast, which they used to offer. This, therefore, slightly disappointed my veggie friend. However, we decided to persevere. There was an alternative of sweet potato and quinoa hash browns, poached eggs and avocado, which my friend opted for. No toast or drink came with this though. I went for a full Scottish breakfast. Whilst I ordered a diet Coke on arrival, I was not offered a tea or coffee with my full Scottish breakfast. Whilst I didn’t want one, the coke price was added into the bill and the coffee my friend had ordered wasn’t discounted either which could have been done as part of my meal. We thought this was a bit cheeky but not enough for us to complain.

Vegetarian option (with added toast and tomato) - Treacle

Vegetarian option (with added toast and tomato) – Treacle

We waited a little while to order food but other than that, the service was relatively quick. Once the breakfasts arrived, they looked good. I handed over the toast and one of the two halves of tomato to my friend so his breakfast seemed more substantial. My plate consisted of a slice of toast with butter (now on my friend’s plate), two tomato halves, bacon, a sausage, hash brown, potato scone, mushroom, beans, egg, haggis and black pudding. Most of my breakfast was nice. The mushroom in particular was excellent and had a surprisingly large amount of flavour. However, the sausage was a bit non-descript. The potato scone was a little soggy but still tasted good. The haggis had excellent spicing, which almost made up for the sausage. On the other side of the table, my friend enjoyed his boosted up breakfast but still could help feeling a bit robbed over his meal, claiming “it needed to have breakfast with it”. He also said he wished he’d ordered the full Scottish breakfast and asked them to leave off all the meat.

This did the job but didn’t impress me as much as previous visits.

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

Overall – 28/40

Cost £23 for two breakfasts, a coffee and a diet coke

Treacle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato