Michael Neave

Michael Neave Kitchen and Whisky Bar

31st January 2018 6pm


Michael Neave Kitchen and Whisky Bar has been a firm Edinburgh Feasts favourite for some time. However, since our inception, we’ve just not had time to visit and this had to be rectified. Situated in one of the closes off the Royal Mile, this restaurant could easily be missed. The top, entry level is a bar and had some outdoor seating and the downstairs section is the main dining area. The table we were sat at was generous for two, but this was welcomed as too often a restaurant squashes in small tables that also have no real space between them, so this was a pleasant change. We got some drinks ordered (their cocktails are quick reasonably priced) and went over the menu. The starters and desserts are great value for the standard of food. The mains are where the expense lies, but still, the food is definitely worth it. I chose the scallops, black pudding and pea purée followed by garlic toast rump of lamb. My friend opted for celeriac soup to start and wild mushroom, spinach and truffle gnocchi for her main.

Whilst we were waiting for our starters, we were brought out a couple of tomato and parmesan bread rolls. They were warm, so the butter melted on them easily. The flavour was delicious and a nice little surprise at the start of our meal. The starters followed not long after and emitted a beautiful aroma. My scallops sat alongside black pudding, on a vivid green pea puree. The scallops were cooked to perfection, with the black pudding providing a suitable accompaniment. A very satisfying dish, all in all. On the other side of the table, the soup was full of depth and had roast granny smith apple pieces scattered across the top which added an interesting alternative to croutons.

My main of lamb was a very generous portion. It was quite pink, which was fine for me but might put off some (I didn’t get asked how I would like the meat cooked, so this must be the standard). The taste was beautiful though, with the roast garlic complementing the lamb beautifully. This sat on a massive lump of skirlie mashed potato and had savoy cabbage and pancetta on the side. The pancetta was a little hard for my preference but I am also someone who doesn’t insist on crispy bacon, so I am not sure you can take my advice on that one! The jus pulled all the elements of the dish together nicely. A successful dish, I think. Across the table from me, the gnocchi seemed like a slightly smaller plate of food. However, it was a lovely looking plate of food. The gnocchi itself was soft and the sauce not too overpowering but still something of substance. The plate was left clean by the end of it.

I had already spotted that there was a soufflé on the dessert menu. My dining companion decided she could only manage tea (which came with its own petite fours anyway) but I was definitely still committed to the soufflé. It arrived with a superb rise, so we were off to a good start. It was a sticky toffee soufflé with salted caramel sauce and lemon shortbread. The sauce came in a little jug so you could pour it into your soufflé if that’s your kind of thing. The soufflé itself had bags of flavour. Possibly a smidgen underdone but nothing to be concerned about. I chose to pour the salted caramel sauce in and it was utterly divine. I didn’t think the soufflé could be outdone but it was a close race with this sauce. On the side were three little rounds of lemon shortbread. These had wonderful flavour but I did struggle to eat them all with everything else on the plate. It was worth it though. I had a grin on my face with every mouthful. On ordering the bill I also received some petite fours, so ended up taking them home to snaffle at a later date.

Sticky Toffee Souffle - Michael Neave

Sticky Toffee Souffle – Michael Neave

I really enjoyed our dinner here and think it’s a bit of a hidden gem.

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

Overall – 34/40

Would I eat here again? Yup (mmmmm souffle)

£75 for two starters, two mains, a dessert, a tea, one glass of wine and one cocktail

Deep fried shredded beef in chilli - Golden Dragon

The Golden Dragon Restaurant

20th January 2018 7.45pm


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


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.



9th January 2018 6pm


From the front, Vapiano seems like a modest little restaurant. However, this tardis of a venue is actually spread over three floors, with the bottom floor being the largest with a spacious feel. There is an unusual approach to dining here. Ross, at the front desk, explained the set up to us. There are different stations for different foods: one for salad/antipasti, one for pizza, one for pasta and one for the bar and desserts. These are spread out over the floors but you go and order/collect your food yourself. You can either sit nearest the one you want or move about the restaurant to collect your food. There is also a lift for those who find stairs a bit over facing. We settled on the middle floor and sat at one of the high tables (there are a variety of types of seating). Order tracking is facilitated through a card, which can be swiped at each station, allowing you to see how much you are spending as you go, freedom from splitting bills and fun for kids.

We would have got 2 for 1 cocktails (between 4-7 Mon-Fri) if my friend had chosen one of the eligible cocktails but as it was, we chose the raspberry collins and the mai tai. These both were excellent and good value, even without the deal. Owen, who was our contact for the evening, had arranged for us to automatically receive the piatto anti-pasti platter. When this arrived, it was a veritable feast. With plentiful supply of three different meats, bruschetta, bread, mozzarella, parmesan and roasted vegetables, we were in for a treat. Most of the tables also have additional supplies of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, should you want to avail yourself of these extras. All the ingredients were incredibly fresh and flavour was good and not overseasoned. This would be perfect for a light lunch for two if you weren’t interested in a more hearty pasta or pizza dish.

We decided that we would try a pasta and a pizza dish for our mains. I went upstairs to the entry level service area and ordered a diavolo pizza. With pizzas, as they take a little longer to cook, I was given a buzzer so I could come back when it was ready. My friend went to the pasta area on the lowest floor. All the pasta is made on site and bundled into portions ready to cook in the various dishes. My friend had originally wanted the pollo piccante but, disappointingly, this was unavailable that day. She opted for carbonara instead. She waited a few minutes and was presented with her dish to take back up to our table. My pizza had a surprisingly crispy base and wasn’t too doughy. The topping was decent enough and the spicy sausage was actually spicy which was pleasing. On the other side of the table the carbonara vanished almost in an instant. Not because it was a small portion, as it was definitely not small, but because it was tasty.

We were cajoled into desserts, sold on the idea because these were also made from scratch on the premises. They do offer a small number of them in a mini size if you have already eaten loads but can’t resist something sweet to round off your meal. I chose the mini panna cotta and my dining companion went for the mini tiramisu. Sadly, again they didn’t have the mini tiramisu (I think my friend is cursed) so she went for the full sized version. My panna cotta had a lovely strawberry coulis on top. The panna cotta was firm but full of fresh vanilla which was lovely. The tiramisu was well received although she was unable to finish it after everything else we had eaten.

Vapiano is a solid option with some decent food. If you are enamoured with their USP, then it’s worth giving it a whirl.

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

Overall – 31.5/40

Would I eat here again? Yes, particularly for the anti-pasti.

Complimentary but would have cost around £58 for two cocktails, sharing anti pasti platter, pizza, pasta and two desserts.

Whilst this meal was complimentary, all views are my own. Thank you to Rebecca for organising and to Owen for facilitating the visit.



7th December 2017 6pm


I was invited to a blogger/press event at Piccolino. I made a rookie error in not asking if it was a plus one event, expecting it to be one of those mingling and tasting evenings but it wasn’t, so I ended up having dinner on my own. There are worse things in the world! Anyway, Piccolino is a cosy, intimate environment situated in Tollcross serving Italian food. I had a chat with the owner, Luigi. He advised me that they use fresh ingredients, which means it might take a few minutes longer from order to eating but tastes like ‘your mother in Italy used to make’. With that introduction, I was keen to ensure I had some pasta during the evening. In the end I chose calamari for my starter, followed by gnocchetti broccoli salsiccia e grana.

Calamari - Piccolino

Calamari – Piccolino

The calamari came out with no discernible difference in time to any other restaurant, which was great. Served on some brown paper (on a plate I hasten to add), this dish aimed to have a rustic feel. The calamari was not rubbery and was seasoned well. The coating could have been a little crispier but a minor detail in what was a decent dish. The accompanying mayo was lovely and finished off the dish nicely.

Gnocchetti - Piccolino

Gnocchetti – Piccolino

Onwards to the main course. This was a gnocchi dish with broccoli and Italian sausage. This is what I would call a simple, rustic Italian dish. There’s no flash, just a plate full of wholesome food. The gnocchi was soft and the broccoli still had a bit of firmness to it. The sausage was crumbled through the dish rather than sliced up, which was a nice surprise. There was a fantastic addition of a couple of Parmesan crisps on the side. These had the most incredibly intense cheese flavour.

I was too full for dessert, which was a shame. I think Piccolino offers a reliable Italian experience in a intimate setting. Worth a visit.

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

Overall – 31.5/40

Would I eat here again? Yes.

Cost – this meal was complimentary but would have cost around £18 for the starter and main course

Whilst this meal was complimentary, all views are my own. Thanks to Simone for organising.

Dips - BABA


4th December 2017 6pm


I attended the launch of BABA back at the beginning of November and was immediately excited about the place. The food was great but I wanted to put them through their paces during a normal service. Sister restaurant to the wonderful Ox and Finch in Glasgow, BABA‘s food is different in that it is inspired by the flavours of the Levant. BABA’s interiors also reflect this approach. There are lots of communal dining tables as well as smaller tables for a more intimate dinner. That coupled with a cocktail bar area, this is a place that works well for socialising in any level.

I’ll lay it out now – BABA’s dips are amazing. You should easily find something your palate will be delighted by. However, if you can’t chose, they offer a selection instead, which is exactly what we went for. We then also ordered two mains and a side, I went for the lamb shawarma and my friend chose the squid, merguez sausage and salmorejo and we ordered ptitim on the side.

The dips came out in abundance. There were eight in all, including hummus, baba ganoush, beetroot and feta, squash, butter bean, labneh with tomatoes and harissa, muhammara with chilli and walnut and goats cheese with pistachio. Along with the dips we got some grilled pitta bread to scoop up the deliciousness. They were all excellent. I think my favourites were the labneh and the muhammara but all of them were really flavoursome. I could easily see a leisurely afternoon with a few cocktails, working my way through the dips. Definitely worth experiencing.

The mains came out and smelt gorgeous. My lamb shawarma came deconstructed so you could build it how you liked. There was plenty of lamb which was nestled on harissa tomatoes, hummus and garlic tahini. The pitta pockets were warm and ready to be loaded with food. This all tasted gorgeous and there was a sense of gratification eating this dish. On the other side of the table the squid looked fabulous and the taste matched the visuals. The seafood was complemented with the spices coming from the merguez sausage. The ptitim was a little bit more lemony that I’d had last time which was the only thing that didn’t quite hit the mark but was still passable.

BABA’s staff were friendly and happy to give recommendations. It’s clear that they have tried the food and understand the flavours. BABA was a great experience and should be visited – frequently!

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

Overall – 36/40

Would I eat here again? With those dips? Try to stop me!

Cost – £58 for a sharing set of dips, two mains, a side and two cocktails

Trenchtown Caribbean Social Club

29th November 2017 6pm


Trenchtown caused a bit of a stir on social media upon opening – being something a little bit different. They offer Carribbean food – what’s not to love? A group of us headed there before a film at the Cameo (a Chocolate Tree taste-along to Willy Wonka!). As you may expect, the place was brightly coloured, with murals on the wall, including one of Bob Marley. We ordered cocktails and salivated over the menu (figuratively, of course). The menu had something to offer most palates. They also offer three levels of jerk heat – classic (spicy), coconut (milder) and pineapple (fruity). I opted for the whitebait to start followed by island jerk salmon with the classic jerk. My friends chose the squid and the kind prawns to start followed by the babi bak ribs, the mashup jerk chicken burger and the trenchtown goat curry.

We had a little wait and then the starters arrived. Presentation isn’t at the top of the agenda here but don’t let that put you off. My whitebait was crispy and the saltiness really came through. I would have perhaps liked a little more of the lime mayo but then I am a condiment fiend. Across the way from me the squid was piled high and was lovely in flavour. Those who chose the prawns were raving about them. The prawns were massive and the sauce they were in was delicious. Not for those of you who dislike having to peel prawns though.

We had to wait a little while for our plates to be cleared and we were asked if we were ready for our mains. However, when they came out, there was the most beautiful, heady aroma of jerk spices. Again, difficult to make beautiful on the plate but tasted great. My salmon was cooked well and the spices tingled my mouth without making it explode. It was accompanied by rice and peas (rice and kidney beans). This took me back to my first year at Uni where I had a Jamaican landlady who used to cook this every Sunday for us, amongst other things. The ‘greens’ declared on the menu turned out to be rocket and a slice of cucmber, plus some strips of carrot. The goat curry next to me spelt wonderful and its consumer had nothing but high praise for it. Served in a big pot with a side of Jamaican dumpling, this was a comforting dish for a dreich day. The babi bak ribs were a colossus of meat and bone. This was a really good value dish as the ribs had plenty of meat on them but my friend was unable to finish the dish. The burger was also satisfying and came with a side of spicy fries (you can go for greens if you prefer, if you’re that kind of person). The burger wasn’t quite what she expected but she enjoyed it anyway.

We were absolutely stuffed so couldn’t manage dessert and as it transpires, we wouldn’t have had time anyway. Two hours is a long time for two courses. I know we were probably being served in the Caribbean relaxed style and I would have been less bothered if we didn’t have somewhere to go to after. Just be mindful that if you visit, make sure you have no plans afterwards, then you can enjoy the experience to the max.

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

Overall – 32/40

Would I eat here again? Yes, when I am not in a hurry

Cost around £110 for four starters and mains, four cocktails and three beers