Southside Scran

18th December 2018 6.30pm

southsidescran.com

Southside Scran is another venture between Tom Kitchin and Dominic Jack. Edinburgh Feasts loves both the Kitchin and Scran and Scallie but would this be as successful as these two? If we ignore the confusion of Southside Scran actually being located on the Tollcross/Bruntsfield border rather than the traditional Southside area, this looked like it was going to be closer to Scran and Scallie than the Kitchin, acting as a local neighbourhood bistro. The difference with this restaurant was that they were offering much of the food cooked on a rotisserie.

img_4412We were welcomed and taken to our table. Somewhat disappointingly we were sat in a corner where I was facing a curtain and my friend was facing a wall (which seemed to have something greasy splashed up it). We’d booked almost three weeks prior, perhaps this wasn’t early enough to avoid this table. We ordered our food – I chose the octopus followed by a special of rotisserie shoulder of lamb. My friend opted for the shellfish ravioli followed by monkfish.

img_4413We were brought some bread with butter, chicken liver parfait and cornichons. However, we had no side plates which was odd and difficult when given bread and spreads. We had to balance the bread and knives on our place mats, which resulted in crumbs all over the table, which they did not offer to clear for us. All a bit odd. The bread itself was nice apart from the end which was difficult to bite into. The parfait was delicious and the butter beautifully spreadable.

img_4415img_4414My octopus carpaccio was pretty on the plate, fanning out in a lovely circle. This was pleasant and I did enjoy the lemon dressing which was lots of little bursts of lemon but it was probably too much for the octopus, as little flavour was derived from the seafood itself. There were little crunchy elements with tiny croutons and a scattering of capers to add some sort of contrast to the lemon. My dining companion was enjoying her shellfish ravioli. A single large ravioli was packed full and sat in a lovely shellfish bisque.

img_4417img_4416img_4418The mains both came from the rotisserie. Mine was lamb shoulder with cinnamon and paprika. What I wasn’t expecting was a pile of Mediterranean flavours on top, with tomatoes, olives, onions and more capers. Whilst all the elements were well cooked/prepared and full of flavour, I didn’t particularly enjoy the flavours together. We’d also ordered sides of fondant potatoes and french bean salad. Only the beans really went with my meal as I had expected a different set of flavours in my dish. It does annoy me when descriptions on menus don’t accurately reflect the meal you are going to have. The potatoes were good though, with some garlic and spring onions alongside for good measure. The french bean salad was excellent. These were mixed with hazelnuts and shallots which added the perfect balance. My friend was enjoying her monkfish tail. This was cajun spiced and came with aubergine. The purée in particular was nice

img_4421We decided to take a punt on desserts and both ordered the chocolate tart. On arrival, mine had clearly moved across the plate as there was a chocolate patchy smear that was not on my friend’s plate (so not a fancy plate dressing). The tart itself was incredibly intense in flavour but surprisingly light in texture. It came with a delicious milk ice cream. However, the scoop needed to be larger to balance it out because light in texture didn’t mean it was a light dessert. My friend did struggle mid way through and had to abandon, but I managed to clean my plate.

To cap off this underwhelming evening, we were overcharged on the bill. We waited a very long time to be seen by someone to rectify and actually pay the bill, which was a shame considering the excellence service throughout the rest of the meal. The bill was adjusted without a problem (it was the special which had been incorrectly priced).

Overall, we were disappointed with Southside Scran. It definitely has potential but it is nowhere near Scran and Scallie in terms of both food and value for money. Maybe it’s still bedding in but it’s not what I’d expect from a Tom Kitchin venture.

Food – 7/10
Service – 8/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Value – 5/10

Overall – 27/40

Would I eat here again? Only if I heard it had improved.

Cost £93 for 2 starters, mains, sides and desserts

Cauliflower ‘buffalo wings’ - Vesta

Vesta

12th December 2018 8pm

https://vestaedinburgh.co.uk

Vesta is where Home used to be situated on Queensferry Street and is still affiliated with Social Bite, offering the opportunity to pay it forward as well as offering training and employment programmes for the Social Bite Academy. I was visiting with Emma from Vegan Edinburgh (veganedinburgh.com) and Ann from A Quirky Lifestyle (www.quirkylifestyle.com) and Celebrating Our World (www.instagram.com/celebratingourworld). We were offered a booth to sit in and we ordered some cocktails whilst deciding on the food. This place caters well for vegans and vegetarians as well as meat eaters. I went for the baked camembert followed by the pork belly and black pudding roulade. My friends went for the hot smoked salmon and cauliflower ‘buffalo wings’ for their starters and then the miso glazed seitan and cashew stir fry and the mushroom stuffed seitan for their mains.

Breaded Camembert - Vesta

Breaded Camembert – Vesta

Hot smoked salmon - Vesta

Hot smoked salmon – Vesta

Cauliflower ‘buffalo wings’ - Vesta

Cauliflower ‘buffalo wings’ – Vesta

The starters arrived with simple plating. My breaded camembert came in four big pieces along with some salad and spiced red onion chutney. The camembert was oozy and the crumb was crispy. The chutney went nicely with it. The hot smoked salmon was a little hidden on my friend’s plate due to a covering of toasted ciabatta. This dish came with braised leeks and a small swirl of garlic veloute. This was a sturdy dish, albeit a little pedestrian. The cauliflower ‘buffalo wings’ were going down a treat. The heat was brought through a Bloody Mary salsa which was tempered by a vegan sour cream. Again, there was a little salad on the dish as a garnish.

Pork belly and black pudding roulade - Vesta

Pork belly and black pudding roulade – Vesta

Mushroom stuffed seitan - Vesta

Mushroom stuffed seitan – Vesta

Miso glazed seitan and cashew stir fry - Vesta

Miso glazed seitan and cashew stir fry – Vesta

The mains came out with similar understated plating. My roulade was a generous portion and was really cooked well. The mash was nice and the red cabbage tasty. The apple sauce pulled it all together really well, but as the only vaguely wet thing on the dish, it really felt that there was a gravy or sauce missing. It wasn’t overly dry but needed just a little bit more. The same could be said for the mushroom stuffed seitan. This was also a great dish but could have done with some kind of additional sauce with it. The cranberry sauce was not enough for what was on the plate. However, the seitan was good and the vegetables worked well. The stir fry also had seitan in it. It was found to be a filling dish. From my point of view, I’d have liked to see a bit more colour in it, but that is a personal preference.

All the food we ate was good. It’s not overly exciting food but to have a good choice for non-meat eaters is great.

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

Overall – 31/40

Would I eat here again? Probably

£66 for three starters, mains and cocktails (we also put some money on top of this to pay it forward).

Sticky Toffee Pudding - LeftField

LeftField

11th December 2018 5.30pm

www.leftfieldedinburgh.co.uk

We had an early booking at LeftField. Overlooking Bruntsfield Links, LeftField is tucked away but worth hunting out. Whilst understandably quiet at the time of arrival, this place was bustling fairly quickly. We were left a little confused when provided with menus as we soon realised that we didn’t actually have the same menu. Once cleared up (one of us had been given the Christmas party menu), we both ordered identical meals of crispy fried squid and sirloin steak with garlic butter.

Crispy fried squid - LeftField

Crispy fried squid – LeftField

The crispy fried squid was plentiful and tasty. Lime on the side meant I could get my lime hit. This worked beautifully with the sriracha mayo and balanced the heat out. The squid wasn’t rubbery or tough. A very pleasing course.

Sirloin Steak - LeftField

Sirloin Steak – LeftField

Next up was the steak. Both were cooked to our preferences and served with a small pot our chosen sauce – garlic butter. The steak was juicy, made even more delicious by the butter. The steak came with chips and a side salad. The chips were fab but I would have liked the option of a sauce for these (does that make me uncouth?!). The salad was fairly standard but the addition of spring onions did lift it a bit.

Sticky Toffee Pudding - LeftField

Sticky Toffee Pudding – LeftField

We had room for dessert and, you guessed it, we ordered the same dish. Sticky toffee pudding was calling both of us. On its arrival, we were delighted to see it was topped with popcorn. A little unorthodox maybe but tasted good nevertheless. It was a shame that my friend has a bunch of unpopped corn in hers as I didn’t get any. That aside, the pudding was full of warming flavour, with a beautifully yummy sauce. This contrasted well with the cold ice cream. This was definitely a crowd pleasing dessert.

LeftField has a few wrinkles (including an odd Christmas playlist that they ended up changing) but is generally offering tasty food in a relaxed setting.

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

Overall – 32/40

Would I eat here again? Yes.

£77 for two three course meals, a glass of wine and a gin and tonic

Smoked Salmon - Number One

Number One at The Balmoral

8th December 2018 7pm

www.roccofortehotels.com/hotels-and-resorts/the-balmoral-hotel/restaurants-and-bars/number-one/

A group of us always go somewhere fancy for a Christmas get together. This year we booked Number One back in February on the basis that we’d have saved our pennies by Christmas (ha!). A little steeper than tasting menus at some other Michelin starred restaurants, we hoped for something special.

Number One at the Balmoral

Number One at the Balmoral

We were warmly greeted by staff who promptly took our coats and offered us the choice of a drink first or going straight to our table for dinner. We chose the latter. The dining room had a nice Christmassy feel and the lighting was low. We were led to a table in the middle of the room. To my surprise, the place wasn’t full and remained under capacity all evening. This really shouldn’t be the case for a Saturday in December at a starred restaurant. We had already decided to go for the winter tasting menu but my friends talked each other into matching it with wines.

Canapés - Number One

Canapés – Number One

We started off with some amuse bouche, presented on a lovely stand. This included three bites of food; one lobster, one beef and one cheese. Opinion was split on which one was best as we all had a different favourite. Mine was the lobster. They were all delicious though. Afterwards, the sommelier came to talk about the first wine, and introduced each wine with the relevant course as it came out. He spoke confidently and humorously throughout.

Crab - Number One

Crab – Number One

We then started on the first course of the menu, West Coast crab with mango and avocado. This was a light and delicate dish and almost palate cleansed in preparation for the next course.

Smoked Salmon - Number One

Smoked Salmon – Number One

Smoked Salmon - Number One

Smoked Salmon – Number One

Next followed the Balmoral’s signature dish, smoked salmon with lemon purée and quails egg. Our plates arrived under smoked closhes, which were lifted at the same time to allow the smoky aroma to waft across the dining room. The salmon was of high class and a generous portion. The small dots of lemon purée were a lovely addition along with slices of radish and apple. The quails egg oozed appropriately. A delightful course and the favourite for one of the group.

Fois Gras - Number One

Fois Gras – Number One

Fois gras followed. I always feel slightly uneasy with this as a dish and would never order it from an a la carte menu. My fellow diners felt the same. However, we weren’t going to waste a course put in front of us. There is no denying that it was delicious. The accompanying quince and pistachio were beautiful. This course also came with gingerbread. We found this a little too crumbly and sweet for this course (although we obviously ate it all anyway). They didn’t clear up the crumbs it left, as it was served in a napkin on the tablecloth, which I found surprising for a Michelin starred restaurant.

Halibut - Number One

Halibut – Number One

The fish course was halibut. The fish was possibly slightly over cooked but only a smidgen or so. It sat on a bed of cucumber. I am not a fan of this vegetable but it did seem that is made the cucumber a bit mulchy, which made it even less appealing. The seaweed was nice but the oyster felt a bit overkill, almost as if it was there to be opulent rather than for the benefit of the dish. There was a surprise addition of what we think was puffed rice on top of the fish. It certainly added another texture to the plate.

Beef fillet - Number One

Beef fillet – Number One

Then for the meat course, which was Tweed Valley beef fillet. This meat was of excellent quality and melted in the mouth. The accompanying beef short rib was packed full of flavour. The salsify was great and the little risotto underneath was tasty. One of my friends felt the dish could have taken a little more of the horseradish, but that was the only criticism. This was definitely my favourite course.

Brown Butter Financier - Number One

Brown Butter Financier – Number One

We then entered the dessert zone. First came the brown butter financier. Balanced on top was a muscovado chantilly cream and small cubes of apple were scattered around the plate. This was a pleasing dessert. The apple balanced out the sweetness well with its sharpness. It felt naughty without being over-rich.

Vanilla Soufflé and Ice Cream Sandwich - Number One

Vanilla Soufflé and Ice Cream Sandwich – Number One

Second dessert was the impressive vanilla soufflé and ice cream sandwich. As hoped, the soufflé had risen nicely. Sadly, I think it was a touch under done as it still tasted a bit eggy. The ice cream sandwich was a delight though. The ice cream itself was beautifully smooth and the biscuits tasted like Oreos, so what’s not to love?

Petit Fours - Number One

Petit Fours – Number One

We were lastly offered a petit four from a trolly full of them. There were four to choose from but one seemed a bit stingy compared to other places. Nevertheless, they were of a great quality and rounded off the meal well.

Sadly we had to wait ages to get the bill. I don’t mind restaurants not hurrying you out but as we were all sat there with no drinks, not being offered even a drink felt a bit foolish on their part. I might have considered a cocktail but by this time we decided that it was time to call an end to the evening.

Number One at the Balmoral definitely had elements of deliciousness but it didn’t offer anything wow. We felt a little underwhelmed by our experience but still enjoyed the meal overall.

Food – 8/10
Service – 8/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Value – 6/10

Overall – 29/40

Would I eat here again? Unlikely as there are better offerings in the capital.

£423 for three tasting menus, two with matched wines.

Halloumi Fries - 83 Hanover Street

83 Hanover Street

5th December 2018 8pm

www.83hanoverstreet.com

After some festive dancing on George Street at the Silent Light, a couple of us decided to reward burning those calories by stuffing our faces. We decided to chance it at 83 Hanover Street and we’re lucky that they still had a couple of tables free. 83 Hanover Street aims to blend Scottish and Chilean cuisines. As seems to be the theme with my recent reviews, 83 Hanover Street offer small bites and plates to be shared. We chose braised pork collar croquettes and calamari from the bites section and hangar steak and halloumi fries from the plates section.

Pork Croquettes - 83 Hanover Street

Pork Croquettes – 83 Hanover Street

The croquettes came out first. Three crispy balls were sitting in an apple and chilli jam. The croquettes were stuffed full of pork which tasted wonderful alongside the jam. A great combination.

Halloumi Fries - 83 Hanover Street

Halloumi Fries – 83 Hanover Street

Next came the halloumi fries which were the biggest triumph of this meal. Tons of fried halloumi, covered in drizzles of red pepper ketchup and lime and coriander aioli. Some sliced chillis were also scattered across the top. The cheese was delicious and cooked to perfection. I could have eaten more than one plate of this.

Calamari - 83 Hanover Street

Calamari – 83 Hanover Street

Then the calamari appeared. This came with a merken (smoked chilli pepper) aioli, sliced chillies and a wedge of lime. Whilst cooked ok, it was a little uninspiring and possibly a touch under seasoned. The aioli was nice but couldn’t entice us to finish this plate.

Hangar Steak - 83 Hanover Street

Hangar Steak – 83 Hanover Street

Lastly, the hangar steak. The steak was spice rubbed and was served with a fried egg, onions and sautéed potatoes. The egg oozed nicely and pulled the dish together nicely. The steak was of good quality and cooked well.

We enjoyed our visit to 83 Hanover Street. It won’t set the world alight but it will be a decent meal.

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

Overall – 32.5/40

Would I eat here again? Possibly.

£35 for two bites, two plates and a small glass of wine

Merienda

Merienda

28th November 2018 6pm

https://eat-merienda.com

We had been wowed by the photos we had seen of Merienda’s food, so hurried ourselves down to Stockbridge to give it a try. It’s a small restaurant that offers Mediterranean style small plates with local produce. We were run through the menu by the friendly staff. The recommendation is around four plates per person. We decided we would get four savoury dishes and one dessert each. I opted for the charcuterie plate, mull cheddar panna cotta, parfait egg and the sea bass. My friend picked the tuna crostini, gnocchi, the parfait egg (again) and the mackerel escabeche. As usual with small plates, they came out when they were ready. My friend ordered some wine, which she said was excellent.

Charcuterie - Merienda

Charcuterie – Merienda

Tuna Crostini - Merienda

Tuna Crostini – Merienda

We first had the charcuterie and the tuna crostini. The meats come from reputable East Coast Cured and there were five different cuts to sample. These were excellent and full of flavour. They also were accompanied by some pickles and olives, which was a nice surprise. The crostini were also tasty. The tuna was balanced on a tapenade and topped with a touch of shallot.

Mull Cheddar Panna Cotta - Merienda

Mull Cheddar Panna Cotta – Merienda

Gnocchi - Merienda

Gnocchi – Merienda

Next up was the mull cheddar panna cotta and the gnocchi. In a snake-like squiggle on the plate, the panna cotta reminded me of posh Dairylea. I’m not sure whether that was a good or bad thing! It was sat in a leek oil and leek shards. A couple of thin grissini were placed on top of the dish too. The gnocchi was probably considered the best dish of the evening. This came with Lanark blue, pesto and pumpkin seeds. It was creamy and comforting.

Parfait Egg - Merienda

Parfait Egg – Merienda

Then came the egg. This was where we really became disappointed. Whilst we ordered two of this dish, it came out in one dish, with two spoons. That in itself would not have been a problem but it looked enough to really only be one portion. We even wondered whether another one would come out. You can see by the photo how small the dish was (they are teaspoons) and we paid £14 for the privilege. The egg was cooked at 64 degrees and had both a savoury crumb (which was a bit soggy) and four small strips of merguez sausage on top. The egg white was not nice to eat when cooked at this temperature, as it was jelly-like, but accept that this could be down to preference. The yolk and the sausage saved it from being a complete disaster but it did leave us feeling a bit miffed.

Sea Bass - Merienda

Sea Bass – Merienda

Mackerel Escabeche - Merienda

Mackerel Escabeche – Merienda

Then we moved onto the fish dishes, with the sea bass and mackerel. The sea bass sat in a bisque foam on top of some braised veg. This was a pleasant dish. The mackerel escabeche could have done with a little more mackerel. This sat with peppers in it’s dressing. Generally a decent dish.

Apple Compote - Merienda

Apple Compote – Merienda

Plum Fool - Merienda

Plum Fool – Merienda

We were still hungry, so continued to plough on with desserts. I chose the apple compote and my dining companion went for the plum fool. My apple compote had a hazelnut and oat crumble scattered on top and a raspberry garnish. It sat in an anglaise sauce which was lovely. The apple had good flavour and was a nice end to the meal. Across from me, the plum fool was sitting on top of some kind of purée or compote. It was infused with port and cinnamon and had a crumb on the top. My friend thought it might have been nice to have the fruit mixed it a little more with the fool, but enjoyed the dish enough nevertheless.

My friend commented to me that she was still hungry, but at this point we had already spent £75 so decided to call it quits. Merienda showed much promise, and I know is being well reviewed elsewhere. Some of these dishes were good. However, I’m not sure this presents good value for money when you are still hungry at the end, and still annoyed about the egg.

Food – 7/10
Service – 9/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Value – 6/10

Overall – 30/40

Would I eat here again? Unsure. Maybe for a quick bite to eat but I would stay away from the egg.

Cost £75 for 8 plates plus two glasses of wine

Sprouting broccoli, beef rump and horseradish - Borough

Borough

21st November 2018 6.30pm

https://boroughrestaurant.com

A birthday meal arranged by friends, I was keen to see what Borough had to offer, having visited its previous incarnation, Norn. Situated in The Shore, Borough describes itself as ‘a relaxed neighbourhood restaurant’. Midweek was quiet but not empty, with several diners in. The food is offered in a series of plates. Diners are recommended around 3 per person to make up the equivalent of a starter and main. Between us we chose most of the menu! We picked venison tartare, watercress soup, beef rump, smoked mackerel, pheasant, cheddar dumplings, and sprouts.

Sprouts, lardo and bearnaise sauce - Borough

Sprouts, lardo and bearnaise sauce – Borough

Smoked apple, mackerel and soda bread - Borough

Smoked apple, mackerel and soda bread – Borough

I started on the sprouts, and almost everyone on the table ordered this too. Sitting on a bed of béarnaise sauce and covered in fine strips of lardo, this was an incredible dish (and the one we are still talking about several weeks later). If you are not a fan of sprouts, this might be the dish to change your mind. The watercress soups was a vivid green colour and my friend enjoyed it immensely. It came with potato and a confit egg, which made it feel more than your average soup. The smoked mackerel was interspersed with apple and soda bread and somehow managed to look like quite a delicate dish. The venison tartare came with pumpkin and pepper dulse. This dish was full of flavour.

Watercress Soup - Borough

Watercress Soup – Borough

Venison tartare, pumpkin and pepper dulse - Borough

Venison tartare, pumpkin and pepper dulse – Borough

Sprouting broccoli, beef rump and horseradish - Borough

Sprouting broccoli, beef rump and horseradish – Borough

Pheasant, Savoy Cabbage and Chestnut - Borough

Pheasant, Savoy Cabbage and Chestnut – Borough

Cheese dumplings, onion and mushroom broth - Borough

Cheese dumplings, onion and mushroom broth – Borough

My pheasant was a really generous sized portion. It came with perfectly cooked Savoy cabbage and a lovely risotto underneath. The meat was succulent which I was relieved to discover (as so often this can be dry). The beef rump had my friends drooling. This was accompanied by sprouting broccoli and horseradish. It was juicy meat and had nice texture. One friend felt it could have done with a bit more horseradish but that in itself did not not take away from the dish. The cheddar dumplings were also another triumph. The dumplings sat in an onion and mushroom broth. Both the onions and the mushrooms were delicious and the broth had a beautifully intense flavour.

Apple, oats and clotted cream ice cream - Borough

Apple, oats and clotted cream ice cream – Borough

Parsnip, hay ice cream and chocolate - Borough

Parsnip, hay ice cream and chocolate – Borough

Sea buckthorn, mandarin and yoghurt - Borough

Sea buckthorn, mandarin and yoghurt – Borough

Whilst getting full we all went for desserts. Two of us chose the apple, oats and clotted cream whilst one went for the parsnip, hay and chocolate and the other picked the sea buckthorn and mandarin. The apple dish was tasty and surprised me as the apple was warm. The clotted cream was actually a clotted cream ice cream, which was lovely but did disappoint by friend a little as she had been looking forward to cream. The parsnip, hay and chocolate dish was going down a treat. The hay was in the form of a hay ice cream. Parsnip crisps lay on top, as did a zig zag of chocolate sauce. My friend felt that the parsnip element was not necessary but did provide a different texture. The sea buckthorn went down well with the traditionally non-dessert eater. However, it did look a little underwhelming on arrival compared to the other dishes.

We really enjoyed our visit to Borough and some of these dishes will ensure that we come back time and again.

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

Overall – 35/40

Would I eat here again? Oh yes!

Cost – £150 for 16 plates and a bottle of wine