Avocado on toast with egg and hash browns - Smoke Stack

Smoke Stack

3rd January 2019 11.30am


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.

Grand Cafe

Grand Cafe

22nd July 2018 10.30am


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.



26th November 2017 11am


We’d been invited by the lovely peeps at Aurora to try out their place. Newly opened in Leith, Aurora had only been open a couple of weeks when we visited but are clearly aware that their small shop front might mean people don’t realise they are there. So here I am, waving a flag for them – because the food is lush. This is not so surprising though, as the chef comes from Salt in Morningside.

Coffee - Aurora

Coffee – Aurora

We decided to visit late on a Sunday morning for brunch (they are currently open 9am-5pm 7 days a week but are trialling some evening openings). The venue is small but perfectly formed. Decked out in stripped wood and interesting decorative features, Aurora is definitely not a greasy spoon. I couldn’t resist ordering the full breakfast – although I toyed with the idea of eggs Benedict and the shakshuka – whilst my friend chose eggs royale with a coffee.

Full Breakfast - Aurora

Full Breakfast – Aurora

We saw some fellow diners’ food come past us and it got us excited. It looked amazing and we weren’t disappointed when our plates arrived. The plates somehow still managed to look clean and sharp, even with breakfasts on them. My breakfast consisted of bacon, sausage, Stornaway black pudding, eggs, tomatoes, portobello mushrooms, sourdough and a smattering of rocket on top. I had asked for my eggs fried but they came poached but I was actually so glad they did as this worked better with the rest of the food and oozed golden yolk. It was clear the foodie cosmos was on my side. I couldn’t fault anything on the dish. I was most amazed by the portobello mushrooms. They had so much intensity that I could have eaten a plateful of those alone. The bacon was crispy without being overdone. The eggs, as I mentioned before, were cooked to perfection.

Eggs Royale - Aurora

Eggs Royale – Aurora

Across from me, my friend was delighted by her eggs royale. The Loch Fyne hot smoked salmon was generous in portion and tasted delicious. The poached eggs were just as good as mine has been. They were sat on top of sourdough and accompanied by wilted spinach. The hollandaise was very clever though. Laced with truffle, the sauce was sparse on the plate. My friend was a little worried there wasn’t enough but with the yolk of the egg, the dish was perfectly balanced. Licking the plate clean was discussed.

We were mightily impressed by Aurora’s offering and was reasonably priced for the quality of the food. It’s worth seeking out that small shop front for the big flavours hidden inside.

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

Overall – 34/40

Would I eat here again? Yes as I have already got my eye on other dishes on the menu.

Cost – this meal was complimentary but would have likely cost just under £20 for a full breakfast, eggs royale and a coffee.

Whilst this meal was complimentary, all views are my own. Thank you to Margherita for organising.

Permit Bar - Dishoom


4th December 2016 10.30am




We had originally tried to go here earlier in the week but with the 50% off ‘soft launch’ it meant queues of an hour and a half so I was grateful to have had a brunch invite so I could finally get to eat here, as I had been hearing fantastic things from friends and fellow foodies alike. Set on St Andrew Square, Dishoom is situated over three floors. The basement houses a bar called the Permit Room (based on the fact that prohibition still exists in India and a permit often must be sought in order to consume alcohol), the ground floor is the kitchen and the first floor is the main dining room. The place is chock-a-block with original artefacts and photos, including some lovely 1930’s theatre lights. A heck of a lot of effort has gone into this place. It shows in the staff too. Every single staff member I passed as we were led to our table said hello. They know their stuff too, with all staff taken to the London branch for a month to learn everything they need to know. Anyway, enough of that for now and down to the food and drink.

We all got a round of bloody marys to start. These were of a very generous size and really were spot on. I like a bit of spice in my bloody mary but a fellow diner wanted hers a bit milder and they were happy to oblige. We all ordered something from the cooked menu and then we got some of their naan rolls and fruit with yoghurt to share. A few of us also ordered some of the sides available too. I had chosen the keema per eedu, which is a Parsi breakfast of spicy chicken keema with chicken livers, topped with two fried eggs, Sali crisp chips and pau (a sweetish bread, traditionally made with the feet – but not this time!). As you can imagine, I was salivating at the thought!

As we were all food bloggers and photographers, when the food came there was lots of moving plates around to get the best angle (although I have to admit I am more of a point and click girl myself) but this was beautiful food to photograph. This is not fussy, over stylised food but it certainly is inviting. My keema was delivered on a wooden board in a little pot, with the pau on the side. Cutting into the egg released the beautiful golden yolk into the keema. We were advised that the best way to eat the pau was by using it like a roti or a naan to scoop up your food. This worked really well but was just as delicious on it’s own. Pau is also eaten dunked in chai, so I gave that a go too and it tasted surprisingly nice. The keema itself was beautifully spiced. The meat was full of flavour and the liver portions generous. The Sali chips added some fabulous crunch to proceedings. All in all a triumph. I also had a bit of the bacon and egg naan (something I think I would normally go for when time is short). This was so much better than your normal breakfast roll. I love a naan at the best of times but this was just something else. From the menu I could see that the bacon and sausages in the breakfasts are sourced from Ramsay of Carluke. There was also chilli jam to spice up the dish should you wish. I’ll be honest now, I didn’t have any of the fruit and yoghurt as I was stuffed but it looked nice and the yoghurt was spiced.

From here on in it was just cocktails. I sampled a further three but some were still going when I left. First we all had a Dhoble (named after the Assistant Commissioner Chief of Bombay Police who kept stopping people drinking) which contained orange juice, gin, maraschino liqueur and a squeeze of lemon. This was excellent and quite refreshing. We also had a gimlet and a pila house sling. For those of us who had not already been, we got a tour of the permit room, which is open til 3am every night. A very sophisticated way to drink into the wee hours.

I have to say the hype is truly justified for Dishoom. The food was exquisite and the staff friendly. Dishoom is a restaurant without stuffiness. It just wants you to have a good time. Bookings will start from January as will take away, but you can always pop in without booking for now. I am already planning my next trip.

Food – 10/10
Service – 10/10
Atmosphere – 9/10
Value – 9.5/10

Overall – 38.5/40

Would I eat here again? In a heartbeat

Cost – the meal was complimentary but breakfast naan rolls vary from £4.20 to £5.90 and cooked breakfasts £5.50 to £10.90. Cocktails around the £8 mark.

Please note that whilst this meal was complimentary, views expressed are my own. Thanks to Sara and Ally from Dishoom for being so hospitable and to Jen from Lux for organising.

Sriracha Benny - Thomas J Walls

Thomas J Walls

14th November 2016 12.30pm

Set, somewhat unusually, in a former opticians, Thomas J Walls has managed to keep some of that old world charm its previous occupier had left behind. A little coffee shop that serves a small line of brunches, sandwiches and soups works perfectly for those wanting a quick coffee or bite to eat. I was meeting a work colleague for a good catch up. We had a look at the menu and then ordered at the till. I went for the Sriracha Benny – a delightful eggs benedict but with a sriracha hollandaise. My friend chose one of the two soups on offer that day – broccoli, courgette and kale (if my memory serves me right).

We didn’t have to wait long before our drinks were brought over. I had ordered an apple juice and was pleasantly surprised to see it was a freshly juiced drink, done on the premises. A big tick there. My dining partner had a pot of tea. The food followed shortly after. My sriracha benny looked like a beautiful plate of food, with the Thai sauce creating a vivid hollandaise. The taste was amazing. The eggs were poached beautifully and sat upon some bacon, spinach and toast. The toast crusts were a little hard to cut through but that is a minor quibble. It all worked really well and was a nice alternative to the standard brunch options. My friend enjoyed her soup a great deal. She said she doesn’t usually go for the more adventurous type soups (the alternative on this trip was chilli and carrot) but she still got plenty of flavour from the soup she chose. She also was impressed at the butter portion for the bread, which wasn’t stingy in the slightest.

Apple Juice - Thomas J Walls

Apple Juice – Thomas J Walls

I have to say I was impressed with this little café and it’s worth popping into.

Food – 8.5/10
Service – 8/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Value – 7/10

Overall – 30.5/40

Would I eat here again? Yes, particularly for brunch

Cost – around £17 for two lunches, a soft drink and a pot of tea

Chop House

Chop House

13th August 2016 11.30am


Newly opened Chop House’s East Market Street branch had only been going a few days when we came to visit for brunch. This, and the fact we were there for brunch rather than lunch or dinner, means that I will be taking this into account in my review .

Bloody Mary - Chop House

Bloody Mary – Chop House

Settled into the recently renovated Arches, I met my friends and climbed (yes climbed) into the booth we were allocated. Two of us already knew we’d be trying the bloody mary on offer but we also accompanied this with eggs benedict with bacon (salmon and spinach are other options). My other friend stuck to an orange juice with a full cooked breakfast. I was pleased that we were asked how spicy we liked our bloody marys on a scale on 1-10. We both went for an 8. When they arrived, we were suitably impressed. Not too big but with attention to detail, spiced just as we’d asked and garnished with some small pickled onions. We enjoyed them a lot. So much so my friend ordered another.

Eggs Benedict - Chop House

Eggs Benedict – Chop House

The food arrived, although one of the eggs benedict was a little slower to arrive but they were still ironing out kitchen glitches. I really wasn’t waiting more than a minute or two. The eggs benedict was great. The eggs were cooked well, the bacon full of flavour and just the right amount of hollandaise. The edge of the toast was a little difficult to cut but I think this was to do with the crust of the sourdough. I just got stuck in with my fingers for those bits instead. The full breakfast was asked for without the tomato but the tomato was there. We also realised several hours later that the tea also did not arrive but it clearly wasn’t missed by my friend! The quality of the ingredients was clear. I think a little tweaking and settling in and this place will do well. It certainly was getting good trade, whilst we were there. Upon getting the bill, we noticed they’d missed one of the cocktails and we were honest and pointed it out. What appeared to be the manager said not to worry as it would be on him as they work through their opening gremlins. This was good PR which means that I am likely to be back to try something from the main menu.

Full breakfast - Chop House

Full breakfast – Chop House

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

Overall – 31/40

Would I eat here again? Yes, if only to try to roast they do

Cost £45 for one full breakfast, two eggs benedict, two (of the three) bloody marys and an orange juice