Dram and Smoke

Dram and Smoke – mini review

7th August 2016 7pm

http://dramandsmoke.com/

Known for pop up projects, Dram and Smoke have taken up residence for the festival at the Biscuit Factory. As such, this is a mini review as it is a temporary offering.

Cocktail - Dram and Smoke

Cocktail – Dram and Smoke

We were given precise instructions to arrive at 7pm and were would be eating our first course by 7.45. We arrived at 6.55 and couldn’t be let in until 7, which was a shame as it was chucking it down with rain and windy. However, we soon piled in and followed a stream of stencilled bird feet though the building to our first stop to get a cocktail with a whisky base. This was surprisingly refreshing and went down well. Dram and Smoke is based on communal dining. So we found a board which told us what table we would be sat at on the floor above. This might not be your bag if you are not the sociable type. Luckily, our table had good chat which led to a very pleasant evening. The venue  itself is of the warehouse type but somehow it really worked, even if we had the odd drip from the ceiling. The dining area had a bar so you could get more drinks and also an open kitchen so you could have a nosey at the food being prepared.

Dram and Smoke

Dram and Smoke

The first course  was smoked ham hock and haggis terrine, with capers and pickles and a tattie scone on the side. The slices of terrine were presented on a large board, which looked impressive. We all helped ourselves to slices. The terrine was not too cold and had carrot and spring onion through it. I am not sure the haggis was very identifiable apart from a peppery taste but it was nice enough nevertheless. The pickles and capers were optional and could be left on the board if you preferred.

Smoked Ham Hock and Haggis Terrine - Dram and Smoke

Smoked Ham Hock and Haggis Terrine – Dram and Smoke

The second course was a pearl barley risotto with spoots (razor clams), chorizo and mushrooms. I love risotto and this was lovely. However, the spoots were hidden somewhat. There was much discussion round the table about whether the spoots should have been presented in their shells but I enjoyed the dish regardless. The mushrooms were surprisingly lemony but some of the other flavours were a little lost.

Pearl Barley Risotto with Spoots - Dram and Smoke

Pearl Barley Risotto with Spoots – Dram and Smoke

Third course  was the braised beef brisket. This was brought to the table on a board with a large piece of horseradish for grating (way more than was needed for the table) and a parley sauce. This did require someone to dish up but luckily we had willing volunteers. The brisket was fatty in places but it provided very tasty meat. The sauce was surprisingly fresh and made a nice alternative to gravy. Alongside the meat were hasselback potatoes, leeks and a green bean and celeriac salad. The salad in particular was excellent as it was fresh, vibrant and had a lovely wholegrain mustard running through it.

We were running late at this point. The final course – dessert – was rhubarb and custard with heather honeycomb. We were given little pots of rhubarb and custard whilst the honeycomb was brought out on a board with a little hammer. Again, a volunteer smashed it up into bits for the rest of the table. This dessert seemed to split the table. Some loved the honeycomb whereas others thought it bitter. Some loved the rhubarb and custard and others found the rhubarb sharp and the custard not vanilla-y enough. I thought it was a solid offering.

As it was a school night and it was running a bit behind, we left at this point but music and dancing is also offered for those who like to party, once the food is consumed.

The experience was fun and worth checking out. Dram and Smoke is running through the festival at a cost of £40 for a four course meal and a cocktail.

Please note that whilst this was complimentary, views expressed are my own. Thanks to Paul from Dram and Smoke for arranging.

Singh’s Road Trip – Mini Review

17th August 2015 7.30pm

www.apexhotels.co.uk/en/offers/tony-singhs-road-trip/

For August only (hence the mini review), Tony Singh has opened a street food pop up in the Apex on Grassmarket. Although it’s street food, it’s almost tapas in style in that several dishes can be shared between people. We’d seen a recommendation that 5-6 dishes between two would be sufficient but we found that way too much based on what we ordered. This is probably ok if you order more fish and vegetarian dishes but the meat dishes are plentiful so order conservatively there. However, if you do over-order, I did spot some people getting their leftovers in a take-out bag, so nothing needs to go to waste!

Singh's Road Trip

Singh’s Road Trip

The menu itself was split into meat, fish, vegetarian and desserts. The waiter seemed to over-explain this to us and kept focussing on what was not so spicy on the menu, even though we had not indicated that we were looking for plain food. Anyway, we ummed and ahhed over the menu as it all sounded great but we settled on steamed buns with pickles, a thai prawn omelette, pork ribs in a Jura BBQ sauce, lamb vuhra and flat iron steak. Being street food, we didn’t have to wait long before food started to come out.

Singh's Road Trip

Singh’s Road Trip

The steamed buns with pickles arrived first. I loved these buns. They were soft but still had good flavour. The pickles were a nice variety and still had good crunch. The Thai prawn omelette was spicy with chillies but this didn’t overpower the dish too much and the omelette was yummy and light. Moving onto the ribs, they came in an excellent Jura BBQ sauce and the whiskey was subtle. No bones were on the plate and there was plenty of meat. A small side salad included fennel and apple. The lam vuhra was a parcel of minced lamb and shredded salad. At first there was overpowering mint in salad but the tamarind started to take over and balance it out. Finally the flat iron steak topped with chimmichurri. The steak was nicely cooked and again a very generous portion.

Milkshake - Singh's Road Trip

Milkshake – Singh’s Road Trip

Whilst we didn’t really have space for desserts we decided that we couldn’t go without having something. I went for the milkshake with ice cream and jelly and my friend went for the churros. I had an option of rose or cardamom for my milkshake, so I went for rose. I knew this could be risky and be too perfume-y but it was delicious. The jelly was broken down into little bits so you could still suck it up through the straw and get little bursts of rose. One the other side of the table, the churros were going down a storm.

Churros - Singh's Road Trip

Churros – Singh’s Road Trip

So overall we had a good time. Whilst venue lends itself to the style of food, it still had too much of a canteen feel, which is surprising for a hotel. Also, the plastic cutlery not strong enough and not everything on the menu works well eating with your hands. The staff came across a bit awkwardly at some points but can’t expect much from a pop up where there isn’t a long term training scheme. The food was decent and that’s why this pop up will do well.
Food – 8/10
Service – 7/10
Atmosphere – 6/10
Value – 8/10

Overall – 29/40

Cost £50 for 5 dishes and 2 desserts

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