Restaurant Wish List

Steampunk Coffee in North Berwick - one of my favourite coffee spots!

Steampunk Coffee in North Berwick – one of my favourite coffee spots!

In 2017, I want to get back in touch with some of the hobbies and interests I used to enjoy, as part of my project to improve my overall wellbeing. Top of the list – food. I used to love cooking and eating out, and having recently unpacked all my cookbooks after moving house I’m starting to find a little more passion for food again.

I’ve put together an updated wish list of restaurants for both Glasgow and Edinburgh to try and knock off this year – any other suggestions are very welcome!

Glasgow
Crossing the Rubicon
A’Challtainn
Table 11
Chakoo Bombay Kitchen
Tompolabamba
Iberico
Don Constanzo
The Hug & Pint
Kimchi Cult
Cail Bruich
Crossbasket Castle 
Elena’s Spanish Bar & Restaurant
Guy’s
The Gannet
La Lanterna

Edinburgh
Home
Greywalls
21212
Timberyard
Contini Canonball
The Kitchin (not a cheap one, but we were very generously given vouchers from family for here)
The Scran and Scallie

Something…

IMAG0746We stopped by Something…, a new addition to the Clarkston cafe scene, one recent Sunday for a bite of brunch and we were delighted to see our hopes for a new decent local were more than met.

It’s so refreshing to see something a bit different in Glasgow (not a burger in sight…) never mind out in the wilds of the southside. I can hold my hands up to say I did a genuine squal of delight when I saw the menu – sumac! Black beans! N’duja! Roasted cauliflower!

We ordered the Tolteca (chipotle salsa, black beans, avocado puree, and coriander on a fried tortilla with fried eggs) and the Stornoway (black pudding, caramelised onions, sourdough and the ubiquitous eggs). Both dishes were really well cooked, flavoursome and very decent potion sizes. Doggy bags would have been useful; as it was, we stuffed ourselves silly and pretty much rolled out of the door.

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Staff were welcoming, friendly and service swift. If I was being really picky, a more comprehensive selection of some really good quality tea would be the cherry on the parfait, so to speak, but that is a minor quibble.

This will definitely become a frequent local haunt for us.

Glasgow Restaurants – a Wish List

In spite of being a fairly regular eater-outer (as it were), there are still quite a few restaurants in Glasgow I’m keen to try. As an aide-memoir, I’ve written myself a list:

Bibi’s Cantina
Black Dove
Black Sparrow
Bloc
Chop Chop (we have a voucher for here, so will be visiting soon)
Crabshakk
Dram
Hutchesons (also have a voucher for here, I’ll be taking my Mum to afternoon tea)
Lamora
Opium (a Chinese restaurant that doesn’t use MSG – huzzah!)
Porter and Rye
The Crafty Pig
The Finnieston
The Gannet
The Sisters (I was lucky enough to meet Jacqueline O’Donnell at a Miele dinner, and she was utterly lovely!)
Two Fat Ladies

Anywhere else unmissable, that I should add to the list?

All the Way to Winchester

At Christmas, our friends moved down to Winchester, in the south of England – and let’s face it, it would have been down right rude not to go down and visit them, wouldn’t it?

It turns out Winchester is not only super handy for the airport and very picturesque, but it’s also a foodies paradise.

We flew down early doors on Saturday morning, and post-run (for them, not me – I enjoyed a quiet house, a cup of tea and my friend’s latest edition of Ideal Home magazine…) we headed to Côte for brunch. I had a hard time deciding between the chive scrambled eggs, and the crepe complet, but plumped for the crepe. And my oh my, this was a good choice! The crepe itself was light as a feather, with lovely bacon and fried eggs – there was also a delicious creamy, cheesey layer which we couldn’t quite decide on – maybe crème fraiche, or a little bechamel? Either way, this was delicious, and I could quite happily have scoffed two.

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After brunch, we went for a wander around Winchester, which is just the perfect place for some post-brunch shopping – a great choice of shops in really characterful buildings (on a side note, I do love it when stores have to choose sympathetic store fronts and signage, rather than sticking up some neon monstrosity), and lovely cafes and pubs. We stopped off for a cheeky glass of Prosecco in Green’s Bar, had another mini wander and popped in to the Mucky Duck for some more brief refreshments. I do feel the need to point out we didn’t wobble home! We left the gents in the pub to ‘finish their pint’ (in reality the cheeky boys ordered another after we left!) and took a detour into the Coop for snacks on the way home. The next couple of hours we did some serious vegging to work up an appetite for dinner…

Our hosts had so many dinner options they were keen to try, we ended up booking one place for starters and then on somewhere else for main. Starters were tapas at El Sabio. Sadly, I didn’t get a photo of this, but it’s fare to say we probably over did it for starters…particularly when our friend added a panic tortilla to the mix! We had all the usual suspects – patatas bravas, manchego, prawn skewers. It was all very fresh and tasty, and would have quite happily tried more dishes if we weren’t off somewhere else for the main course.

Catch of the day at The Green Man, Winchester

Catch of the day at The Green Man, Winchester

Following starters we strolled – waddled – on to The Green Man for mains. We did need a bit of a reprieve so took our time and had a few drinks before ordering dinner. Our host’s sister had recently had her wedding reception here, and I can totally understand why – I loved it. The decor was gorgeous and it was so cosy I could equally see sitting by the fireplace reading the paper and having brunch, as us having drinks and dinner. The men shared a main course, and I shared with our friend Jo. We had the catch of the day, trout with sautéed potato and spring vegetables. This was so simple, perfectly executed and utterly delicious. In spite of being stuffed, I could quite happily have eaten the whole damn lot. The boys shared a good burger, which sadly I didn’t get a photo of.

It’s fair to say, we absolutely loved Green Man, and I’m fairly sure if we lived in Winchester, it would be our favourite local.

I’d wholeheartedly recommend Winchester if you’re looking for a relaxed weekend break, especially if you like long walks in nice scenery, great restaurants and nice bars to sup a drink or two. I’m always looking for UK break ideas, so please leave recommendations in the comment!

 

2014 Favourites – Part One: Tea

I simply cannot believe that is nearly 2014 over – looking back, I don’t feel I’ve achieved as many concrete goals this year but in spite of this, I do feel I’ve really moved forward and discovered plenty of beauty favourites, food favourites and general lifestyle favourites.

I started to draft up a post that was quickly becoming a book, so I’ve split it into a few separate posts – Part One is below. I hope you enjoy it, and do let me know your favourite finds of the year in the comments below!

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I am a major tea jenny, and have have two firm favourites for this year – one old fav, and one new discovery – they are Empress Grey from Marks and Spencer, and Jasmine Rose from Waitrose.

Empress Grey has long been a favourite of mine – well, let’s face it, it’s not just any tea… – I’ve long been a fan of the classic Earl Grey as my parents were big tea drinkers and tended to stray away from the usual English Breakfast, going for Earl Grey, Lady Grey, the intensely smoky Lapsang Souchong and so on, and Empress Grey is a new, vibrant, twist on this old classic.

It has a really refreshing, citrus flavour and is very clean tasting, featuring both orange and lemon oils. To my palate, it tastes far more expensive than it is (it’s around £2 for a box of 50 tea bags). For me, it would be heresy to add milk to this – I like to enjoy it pretty hot and neat, out of my favourite House of Rym cup and saucer. It makes me feel rather more sophisticated than I am for a few minutes.

The Rose and Jasmine tea is a new find of mine, but has quickly found second place in my favourites teas. This has a base of green tea, rather than black, which I am really enjoying at the moment and it has visible jasmine blossoms and rose buds. It has a gentle taste and isn’t too bitter, but is very flavoursome – one of my pet hates is tea that tastes of nothing more than hot water. This tea is lovely quality with very large leaves held in fine muslin bags, although at 19 per bag it is a bit more expensive than the Empress Grey but certainly not up there with the most high-end teas on the market.

No doubt my tea journey will continue in 2015, and I’ll be adding more favourites as we go – if there’s anything you think I should try, do let me know in the comments!

Dinner with Jacqueline O’Donnell and Miele

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At the start of December, we took a trip through to Edinburgh (on a side note, isn’t Edinburgh looking fabulous?) for a rather interesting concept dinner – have you ever had to engage in some light aerobics as a precursor to your starter? No? Me neither!

The chef for the evening was Jacqueline O’Donnell of The Sisters Restaurant, and the aim of the game was to showcase Miele’s new steam oven – all held in the lovely surroundings of Mark Greenway’s restaurant in Edinburgh.

The audience was a mix of bloggers and foodie business types – it was lovely to meet them all, including Leila from Leil’Apetit and Iain and Kate from Citylicious.

Asmentioned, the evening kicked off with some aerobics and pilates style moves – this was a great icebreaker although I don’t think quite burned the suggested 500 calories suggested, which was to balance out the calories from the meal – in theory making it ‘calorie-neutral’.

Jak was an engaging and knowledgeable host – she spoke of using the convection combi steam model at home in detail, showcasing how it can be used in a residential setting and also talked us through the prep of each course.

I think it’s important to note that the whole menu was designed very much to demonstrate a concept – which to my mind it did very successfully – and would not necessarily be a meal one would replicate at home 100% faithfully – some courses may have benefited from a spot of butter or cream or a drizzle of olive oil.

For me, the high points were the first dish of steamed purple broccoli with cured salmon and almonds – I loved the flavour and texture combinations of this dish, and I think they really showcased the fantastic Scottish ingredients.

The venison served with wild berries was cooked to absolute perfection, just a little pink and unbelievably tender – the contrast of delicate meat and tart berries was wonderful.

I have to say, I think the menu Jak designed really showcased the ovens to their full potential and seeing them in action there were many facets of these ovens which I absolutely loved – their sleek modernism, the cleanlinesses, the health and flavour retention factors – sadly, owning one remains a touch of reach for me at the moment as they retail from £1190 for the basic built in model. One to keep in mind for when we move to the forever house, I think…

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Steamed purple broccoli with cured salmon and almonds – 90 calories.

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Steamed beetroot with broad beans rocket and puy lentils – 80 calories

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Prawn stuffed lemon sole with herb butter sauce – 135 calories 

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Wild Highland venison loin with Scotch brambles – 85 calories 

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Steamed rhubarb and pineapple with coconut ice cream – 95 calories

(N.B. Apologies for the photo quality here – major rookie blogging error, forgetting to charge the DSLR – we had to make do with camera phones with dying batteries. Will do better the next time!)

With thanks to Jacquline O’Donnell, Miele, Stonehouse Media and Mark Greenaway.

Bistro Moderne, Stockbridge Edinburgh

My boyfriend had a business meeting just outside Edinburgh the other weekend, and we thought we’d take the opportunity for a wee date day in the capital.

There are literally dozens of restaurants I’m dying to try in Edinburgh but, as fans of the original Mark Greenaway restaurant, we decided to try his new offering Bistro Moderne,which is in the Stockbridge area.

This was the first time we’d been to Mark’s new restaurant, and we nearly bypassed it entirely as the sign is rather discrete. Once inside, the décor is a gorgeous mix of the traditional – cornicing and wood paneling – and industrial – the pass on view to diners, and stainless steel lights. You can see the chefs at work in the kitchen, which is something I personally love. The service was, as you’d expect, slick, swift and professional.

I had originally seen their fantastic value £15 set menu, but when we arrived they didn’t offer this on a Sunday. Instead they had a roast beef/ chicken sharing board for two, for the princely sum of £25. Plumping for this was no great hardship, although I will admit that sharing boards make me slightly nervous – well, you just don’t know if you’ll get a decent feed, do you? – but the idea of a Sunday roast was just too appealing.

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We skipped starters and went straight for the main, and when the board was placed on the table I was more than happy with what I saw – a pile of pink, juicy roast beef, scrumptiously crisp potatoes and a mini-gravy boat with the tasty meat juices. This was accompanied by some strips of incredibly tasty beef fat (I’ll admit to dribbling slightly thinking back on this…) plus two small ramekins of roasted root veg and spring greens.

The beef was absolutely delicious, and the gravy flavoursome. I could quite easily have eaten the pile of potatoes all to myself, as they were crispy on the outside and very fluffy within.

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For dessert, we shared the Chocolate Tasting Plate from the a la carte menu – a mix of milk, dark and white chocolate elements. There was something similar to honeycomb – both pieces and a mousse – but this might’ve been caramelised white chocolate. Either way, it was delicious, but not too heavy after the roast.

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I’d say Bistro Moderne is a strong addition to the Edinburgh food scene and another successful offering from the expanding Greenaway empire, and I look forward to visiting again and trying the a la carte menu.  

Beef Rendang

unnamedOver the Christmas holidays I wanted to take the chance to do some cooking, but the two weeks seemed to fly past without anything special, other than some Christmas Pudding vodka my other half made, appearing out of the kitchen.

I did take the chance recently to make this slow cooked beef rendang by Merilees Parker, with a couple of tweaks (tweaks only because I forgot to buy lemongrass and fresh limes really) and some added veggies – I went with baby corn and mange tout.

This was a tasty dish, perfect for a cold windy evening but next time I think it would benefit from the zesty freshness of the lemongrass and lime zest to brighten up the flavours, but it’s definitely one I’ll make again.

Jacker de Viande

Well, after a longer than planned hiatus, my wee blog is back with a bang in the form of a review of the delightful and utterly delicious Jacker de Viande.

Walking though the door of Jacker De Viande means descending down the stairs to a basement unit on West Regent Street and into a dark cavern, which looks rather like the bloodstained interior of an abattoir. Appropriate certainly, but not especially conducive to a relaxed meal.

However, I’d choose good food over sophisticated decor any day, so on to the main event…

We went for the pulled pork in a bun with black pudding and apple puree, and the pulled pork burger. We should maybe have branched out from pork, but as soon as we got a sniff of the food we knew we’d made good choices.

Sides were chilli cheese fries and macaroni. The noises emanating from my dining partner, which could only be described as being a moment from When Harry Met Sally, started as soon as the silver platter bearing our food arrived and only ramped up when he took his first bite.

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Everything was very well cooked, from the soft, spicy chilli to the burger with just a hint of pinkness in the middle – every dish was absolutely packed with flavour. For the pulled pork roll, the combination of super-soft pork with a crispy onion ring and bacon was really well balanced texturally as well as being as tasty as it could be. The chilli cheese fries were also very moreish, with the chilli being moist without making the fries too soggy.

Prices hover around the £7/8 mark, which I’d say is pretty reasonable, with other similar options like Meat Bar higher up around £12 per main.  

Service was also very good, though I should mention we were the only people there as it had literally just opened at 5.30pm for the night time seating (keen? Us…?), which just added to our overall experience.

This place got a rave review by Ron McKenna in The Herald, and rightfully so – there has definitely been a profusion of burger bar type restaurants in Glasgow over the last year, but I don’t think Jacker de Viande will have to fight too hard to make it’s mark on the food scene. I for one can’t wait to get back and try out some more of the menu (along with a sneaky helping of those awesome chilli fries…).

Falko Konditormeister, Gullane

IMAG0723My boyfriend and I had a a weekend through on the East Coast recently, and we may have made a pilgrimage to bakery Falko Konditormeister on both the Saturday and Sunday mornings…whoops. Falko Konditormesiter is owned an run by German master pastry chef Falko Burkert (konditormesiter means the highest state qualification for a pastry chef in Germany). The Falko story began in 2005 with a mega-successful stall at Edinburgh’s Farmer’s Market, followed by a cafe in Bruntsfield, then finally the Gullane branch.

First of all – the surroundings. The café is in a lovely sandstone corner shop, and, with its dark wood paneling and log fire, is the perfect place to wile away a winter hour or two.

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A slice of the the Schwarzwälderkirschtorte (black forest gateau), and the Schokoladentrüffeltorte, with a hot chocolate!

We started off with the Schwarzwälderkirschtorte (black forest gateau), and the Schokoladentrüffeltorte  (chocolate trufflecream gâteau). I also ordered one of their specialty teas, opting for a pot of refreshing lemon, while Ian upped the treat ante with a hot chocolate.

Both cakes were delicious, and far lighter than looking at them would suggest. The only slight criticism I had was that I would’ve liked a more pronounced cherry flavour in the schwarzwälderkirschtorte, but that’s a personal taste thing. 

We also bought two further cakes to take away – the Opera Torte, and the Schoko-Orangen-Kuchen (chocolate orange tart). The Opera Cake has similar flavours to a tiramisu, but with a much firmer texture. The boyfriend fell in love with the chocolate orange tart, with its strong rich flavours and rich thick ganache. I have to say, although our earlier cakes were good, these really knocked our socks off – rich, though not cloying – the opera cake was beautiful to look at with perfectly balanced layers while the tart had a deep, bitter ganache and fantastic, light pastry.

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Orangen-Kuchen and the Opera Cake for afters!

In terms of cost, you are talking around £4 per item – not cheap in itself, but compared to the dried up husks you so often find in cafes, the quality is incomparable. I have seen some comments around about the quality of service (surly staff, orders having to be repeated…) but I didn’t experience that myself – our waiters were friendly, if not overly so, and everything arrived as swiftly as it was ordered. 

The next day we decided we couldn’t resist and had to have one last visit while still through in the east, and ordered the pancakes with honey roast banana and bacon. The bananas had a slight hint of curry flavours, which sounds unusual to a British palette, but I think fruit and curry are a fairly common pairing on the continent, and they do work together well.

For me, both branches of Falko, but particularly the Gullane branch, are really special places to visit – the quality of the cakes and tarts can’t be faulted, and curling up next to the log fire with a pot of tea and a treat feel so luxurious.

ETA: Since I initially started drafting this post, we’ve been back yet again, this time taking friends and their toddler. Due to being with friends, I didn’t take any photos, but I can heartily recommend the black pudding and goats’ cheese open sandwiches we had!