Grand Cafe

Grand Cafe

22nd July 2018 10.30am

http://grandcafeedinburgh.co.uk/

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.

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

9th July 2018 8.30pm

https://thehawksmoor.com/locations/edinburgh/

Hawksmoor opened in the newly renovated Edinburgh Grand complex to much excitement across the city. We went along to Hawksmoor’s soft launch to see what they had to offer. Set in a grand former bank, the venue is certainly impressive. We had put in for the random draw for tables in the soft launch and ended up with a table at 8.30, which meant it was a little quieter but also that most specials had sold out and they also had no bone marrow related items left.

Langoustine scampi - Hawksmoor

Langoustine scampi – Hawksmoor

The menu looked good but I couldn’t decide on which starter to pick, so I asked the server which to pick between the langoustine scampi and the potted beef and bacon (which is unlike me to do). She said both were great but believed the langoustine scampi edged it. I took her advice and she kindly said she’d also order the other one for us to try, on the house. At the time I was impressed at this generosity but it appears they offered something free to other diners, a hook for a return visit no doubt. I also ordered a rib-eye steak with a side of dripping fries. My dining companion went for the old spot belly ribs followed by the rib-eye and triple cooked chips. We got a side of spinach with lemon and garlic to share too.

The starters looked a little uneven in size with the langoustines being relatively small and the potted beef and bacon, coming with two Yorkshire puddings, which were massive in size. Let’s start with the langoustine scampi. There were about six pieces served with a tartare sauce. These were light and tasty. The langoustines were cooked well and the tartare sauce was of good consistency. The potted beef and bacon came not only with the Yorkshire puddings but a big boat of gravy to pour over the top. This was all tasty but way too large for a starter for one. It would work better as a sharing starter. That being said, I would never want to share my Yorkshire puddings! The pork across the table was gorgeous and the accompanying salad was refreshing.

Rib-eye steak - Hawksmoor

Rib-eye steak – Hawksmoor

We both had the same cut of steak and I have to say they looked a bit lack lustre, appearing rather dry than succulent. I even got a comment on Instagram saying how poor it looked. However, whilst it wasn’t a stunner, the flavour was spot on. The steak was perhaps a touch more well done than the rare I had asked for but only a smidgen. It was still juicy and full of flavour. I picked a béarnaise sauce which was tasty and the fries finished it off nicely. The triple cooked chips on the other side of the table were also pretty decent. The spinach wasn’t too bad either. However, we couldn’t finish the steaks as we were scuppered by that additional starter.

There was no way we could fit in dessert but we were given a couple of the salted caramel rolos free to take home and try. I had mine the next day and they were pretty delicious. The oozy caramel was on the generous side, which in larger numbers would make for a fun dessert.

The service in Hawksmoor was excellent. The brand will hold the place up, as well as having an beautiful venue, but I’m not sure it offers the best steak in Edinburgh.

Food – 7.5/10
Service – 9/10
Atmosphere – 7.5/10
Value – 7/10

Overall – 31/40

Would I eat here again? Maybe if there was a deal on.

Cost £47 full price cost closer to £100.

Carnivore

Carnivore

3rd July 2018 6pm

https://carnivoreedinburgh.co.uk

We’d not been able to make the Carnivore launch but finally got round to visiting. The décor was as expected, blacks and browns, giving it a meaty feel! It was relatively quiet when we popped in but that didn’t seem to impact on the atmosphere too much. We got a couple of mule cocktails ordered, from their 555 menu, which has 5 cocktails on it, available 5 days a week (Sun-Thur), for £5. I ordered the duck confit nuggets followed by a philly. My friend chose the prawn rice balls followed by the Korean.

The ‘little plates’ were nice. My confit duck nuggets weren’t particularly anything to look at but they still plated them in the best way they could. The duck was good but I would have liked more mustard flavour in the apricot mustard sauce as it was not noticeable (unless I have misunderstood the phrase apricot mustard). Across from me, the prawn rice balls were also good. These came with a lovely shellfish mayo. They were surprisingly substantial considering their size, so good for snacking.

Onto our mains. The fillings were fresh and juicy. The meat in my philly was cooked well and wasn’t difficult to eat, as steak can often be when placed in a sandwich. However, I did feel a little uninspired by the dish as a whole and I’m not really sure why. Perhaps I was just expecting more meaty oomph. My dining companion was a little disappointed as she thought she was getting a rack of ribs rather than a sandwich. It isn’t overly clear on the menu, even though it is under the heading proper meat and bread. The kimchi inside was also not very spicy. The side of chips went down well though and the meat inside the sandwich was good and plentiful.

The food at Carnivore is nice. However, we just felt a little underwhelmed on the meat experience. We were expecting it to be a celebration of meat but it was more of a whimper.

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

Overall – 31/40

Would we eat here again? Maybe

£48 for two little plates, two mains, a side and two cocktails

Dry aged beef - Mono

Mono

24th June 2018 7pm

https://monorestaurant.co.uk/

Opening up recently as a progressive Italian restaurant from the people that brought you the much loved Atelier, Mono is situated on South Bridge. The restaurant is laid out over 2 floors. They keep the ground floor for lunches, afternoon tea and arrival drinks and the lower level for evening dining with a view into the open kitchen. Unfortunately this meant that we had to wait until someone realised we had arrived. I do worry this will not work well for walk ins but believe me, it will be worth it if you hang around.

After having a drink upstairs, we were led down to our table. We started our gastronomic journey with three amuse bouche. These provided a wealth of textures and flavours and were a good introduction to the rest of our meal. Whilst we waited for our first course to arrive, we were brought an assortment of bread, which was made on side. This came with a dish of glossy golden olive oil. This all had wonderful flavour, with the focaccia being my favourite.

Our first course was octopus alla piastra. This had a tentacle, laid on a bed of chickpeas and sultanas, with nduja and sea herbs and a couple of crispy elements which then had a delicious sauce added to it. This had a really interesting combination of flavours which were really tasty.

Octopus all piastra - Mono

Octopus all piastra – Mono

Wood pigeon was the next course, which I love. This has to have been the best wood pigeon dish I’ve ever had (and I’ve eaten it at Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner). The pigeon sat on top of offal, lentils, lardons and capers. Unusually, it was topped with smoked honeycomb, which weirdly worked. This whole dish was sublime.

Wood Pigeon - Mono

Wood Pigeon – Mono

Next up was aged Parmesan pasta. The pasta popped in the mouth with gorgeous Parmesan sauce. Nestled in with the pasta were little egg yolk balls which had a breadcrumb coating which were wonderfully rich and was topped off with white asparagus. A corker of a dish.

Aged parmesan pasta - Mono

Aged parmesan pasta – Mono

Could the next dish keep up the impressive level of cooking? Yes! This time it was salted cod. The delicately tender fish sat with polenta and vivid green strips of asparagus. Broad beans and peas scatted the plate along with some artichoke and was topped off with a luscious mugnaia sauce. A light, fresh dish. Gorgeous.

Salted cod - Mono

Salted cod – Mono

Dry aged beef followed. This beautiful cut of beef was perfectly pink and came with ox cheek. Kohlrabi, cauliflower and hazelnuts were placed across the plate, with rings of shallot and a smattering of sea truffle. The puree was incredible smooth and the sauce beautifully velvety (and bonus for leaving a small jug of it on the table just in case). All I can say is wow.

Dry aged beef - Mono

Dry aged beef – Mono

The next course was a cheese course but technically a dessert. I think this may be a dish that may be difficult to get for some people but we surprisingly enjoyed it. It was a combination of Gorgonzola and chocolate. A mouse was made combining milk chocolate with the cheese. This gave it a tangy flavour. A white chocolate dome filled with more cheesiness sat alongside a Gorgonzola sorbet, which was actually my favourite bit. This was all accompanied by a dark chocolate and hazelnut soil and cherries. This dish was confusing but clever at the same time.

'Cheese' - Mono

‘Cheese’ – Mono

Onto a slightly more straightforward dessert – Perthshire strawberries. The strawberries were soaked in vodka and were nestled alongside and strawberry and pine sorbet. Ricotta balanced out the sweetness to make this a very pleasant dish.

Perthshire Strawberries - Mono

Perthshire Strawberries – Mono

Lastly we had coconut semifreddo. The semifreddo was encased in bramble. Alongside was a coconut crumb, brambles and the most interesting element – Thai green curry sorbet. It’s main flavours were ginger and lemongrass but it did just taste exactly like a Thai green curry. Even stranger, it worked as part of the dessert.

Coconut semifreddo - Mono

Coconut semifreddo – Mono

A couple of the dishes might challenge some palates but we loved the lot. There was some really exemplary cooking here. The table service was also top notch. We thought Atelier couldn’t be topped. We were wrong. Go here and go here soon.

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

Overall – 38/40

Would I eat here again? You betcha

Cost – we had a special deal as former Atelier customers of £60pp for the tasting menu but the standard price would be £75 plus £15 for the glass of wine.

 

Radhuni

The Radhuni

21st June 2018 6.30pm

www.theradhuni.co.uk

There is a little, unassuming frontage to this restaurant but it’s massive inside and even has an outdoor seating area out the back. We had a relatively early sitting but there were already diners inside and plenty more came in during our meal, indicating that this is a popular place. It’s not surprising considering one of their chefs recently won chef of the year at the Scottish Curry Awards.

RadhuniWe started our meal, as we often do with curry, with poppadoms and chutney. The poppadoms were of high quality and whilst devouring the mango chutney, I was also really impressed with the mint and yoghurt sauce, which was refreshing.

We decided to share a starter between us and opted for the assorted kebab selection. This consisted of two chicken pieces, one lamb and a pakora. Both the chicken and the lamb were succulent and all of the kebabs had some nice spicing.

I’d ordered a chicken tikka balti and my friend chose the garlic chilli chicken. We both got a garlic naan and shared some rice. The waiter place some of the rice on our plates and then we got stuck in. I think this balti is the closest I have found to those in the Midlands in the Edinburgh area. The flavour was great, the sauce was rich and there was plenty of meat. The naan was huge and scooped up the curry well. The rice was also great. Across from me, the garlic chilli chicken was juicy and full of heat. We both really enjoyed every mouthful we ate.

Garlic naan - Radhuni

Garlic naan – Radhuni

We were so full we couldn’t manage dessert but there are plenty of options on offer, should you wish to partake in one. The staff were lovely and friendly throughout the meal and were clearly liked by other regular patrons who were in that evening.

The Radhuni is on the 37 bus route so if you are not local to Loanhead, it’s really easy to get to and from the city centre. It’s worth it as the food is yummy.

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

Overall – 34/40

Would I eat here again? Yes!

Cost complimentary but likely to be around £45 for 4 poppadoms, chutneys, 1 starter, 2 mains, 2 garlic naans, 1 rice and two beers

Whilst this meal was complimentary, all views are my own. Thank you to Scott from Hotel PR for organising the visit.

Brunch and Supper

Brunch and Supper

19th June 2018 6pm

https://brunchandsupper.co.uk

The idea of Brunch and Supper is pretty much explained in their name. Brunch is offered through the day and then supper is offered in the evenings. We arrived just as their evening session was opening. We had an Itison voucher which meant that between the two of us we had three options from the ‘lights’ section of the menu, one bowl, one plate and one bite plus two glasses of wine, all for £19 in total.

We received a lovely welcome on arrival and a little explanation about the sharing ethos of the supper. We both wanted pretty much everything on the menu but ended up opting for the haggis and black pudding croquette, pork belly and the sticky salmon as our three lights, a bowl of mussels for the bowl, the Korean smoked aubergine, sweet potato, and sticky rice for our plate and harissa fries for our side. They seemed to have options that cover vegetarians and vegans too, so everyone should be able to find something they like on the menu.

Flabread - Brunch and Supper

Flabread – Brunch and Supper

We were given some flatbreads with dips whilst we waited for our food. The homemade ketchup type dip was delicious. As explained to us, the food came out when it was ready, although I am not sure the table was really big enough for this deal as we had to rest some of the plates on the table next to us.

Mussels - Brunch and Supper

Mussels – Brunch and Supper

We first tucked into the mussels. These were sat in a vodka, coconut and lime sauce with chillis, coriander and basil. The mussels were big and juicy and the sauce was broth like and light. We were given an extra bit of lime to squeeze over the top and that really made my palate zing in a lovely way. The chillis weren’t too overpowering and you could taste the elements. Great start.

Korean Aubergine and Sweet Potato - Brunch and Supper

Korean Aubergine and Sweet Potato – Brunch and Supper

We moved onto the Korean aubergine dish. This was an extraordinary dish and if you usually keep away from vegetarian food, I implore you to give this a try. The depth of flavours were stunning. There was no mistaking there was a fair bit of chilli in there but these was balanced out with the gloriously sticky rice. We were both blown away by the balance of simple and complex.

Haggis and black pudding croquette - Brunch and Supper

Haggis and black pudding croquette – Brunch and Supper

We then went into the haggis and black pudding croquette, which was large and sliced in two. This came with a scrummy red onion marmalade and a beautiful whisky sauce. The marmalade cut through the richness of the croquette and it all worked perfectly together. This felt like a plate full of happiness.

Pork belly - Brunch and Supper

Pork belly – Brunch and Supper

Next was the pork belly. This was probably our least favourite for both of us but given the standard of the food, that doesn’t mean it was bad. The pork was a little dry but did benefit from the strips of pickled apple sitting on top. This was sat on a bed of chilli pineapple. The pineapple was nice enough but I would have preferred more of the apple instead.

Salmon - Brunch and Supper

Salmon – Brunch and Supper

The sticky salmon was a joy. Looking at the elements on the dish, most you would say would work but you would be a little unsure of the pancakes. However, do not fret. This was a gem of a dish. The salmon was cooked to perfection, flaking beautifully with a crispy skin. The ginger pancakes absorbed a bit of the soy dressing which made them succulent. The spring onions just finished the plate off nicely. Yum!

We munched on the harissa fries all the way through didn’t carry much harissa flavour. Maybe a harissa duo would have worked better than a powder. That said, they were still fab fries.

We were really surprised at the level of cooking at Brunch and Supper. Classy, wonderful flavours delivered in a understated manner.

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

Overall – 34/40

Would I eat here again? Very much so

£19 for the voucher, true cost around £42.

Bangkok Dirty Fries - Miss Woo's

Miss Woo’s

14th June 2018 6.20pm

www.misswoosbars.co.uk

We decided to visit Miss Woo’s in Leith without booking, but even early Thursday evening meant we couldn’t get a standard table and had to perch to eat along a bar ledge. I’m not sure if it’s just because they have an itison voucher at the moment (which we didn’t have) or its just popular anyway. Either way, book in advance just in case.

The menu is relatively simple, breaking down into fries, gyoza, bao buns, wings, ramen, pad thai and sides. Even though we didn’t have the voucher deal, Miss Woo’s has a very reasonable deal of one cocktail plus 3 items from a highlighted selection on the menu for £18, which we decided to try. I chose a Miss Woo Woo cocktail and then pork gyoza, Asian bbq chicken wings and spicy Korean pulled pork bao buns. My friend chose the same wings and buns but opted for the Bangkok dirty fries instead of gyoza.

The food came out pretty much at the same time. The Bangkok dirty fries had pulled pork and chillis slathered over the top of the fries. These were really substantial and enjoyable. The bao buns were beautifully soft, although it was a little annoying that they stuck to the cardboard container there were served in. The hot and sour flavours were great.

The pork dumplings were served in a bamboo steamer basket and were cooked well, with a decent amount of filling. Dipping them into soy was lovely. However, my favourite was the Asian bbq wings. The portion was generous, with each wing having a good amount of meat on it. The glaze was sweet and smoky in equal measure. I could eaten three servings of that!

We did originally get charged with the full price rather than the deal price but this was quickly fixed. We enjoyed our trip to Miss Woo’s and will definitely head back to try more of the menu.

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

Overall – 33/40

Would I eat here again? Oh yes!

£36 for two of the special offer cocktail and three eligible dishes