Girl Versus Food

Reviews, recipes and thoughts from a Scottish food blogger

Iberica Glasgow – Spanish Restaurant

What do you think of when you imagine Spanish restaurants in the UK? Unimaginative? Lacking authenticity? That has often been my experience in the past… the food has never been quite as delicious as you remember from that holiday in Spain. That was, at least, until I visited Iberica in Glasgow.

What. A. Treat.

The restaurant was busy with a great atmosphere; on a week night evening this is surely a good sign! It has a chic interior, dominated by dramatic light shades.

The menu is updated seasonally and the current offering is bursting full of fresh ideas and ingredients. The menu has a mix of classic and modern tapas.

We started with some olives, toasted bread with tomato and a platter of Juan Pedro Domecq Iberico ham. The ham comes from the black Iberian pig and is cured for a minimum of 42 months. It is easily the best quality ham that I’ve tried.

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Our charming and helpful waiter recommended a bottle of Tempranillo; a red wine from Ribera del Guadiana in the west of Spain. It was a great recommendation and the wine paired well with our food.

One of the seasonal dishes that the restaurant is serving is the beef tomato and salmorejo. Salmorejo is a puree similar to gazpacho and orginates from Cordoba in Andalucia. I recently visited the region and tried a few different takes on salmorejo; the Iberica version was different from what I tried but equally delicious. In fact, it was one of our favourite tapa of the meal. It was so fresh and the beetroot granita topping and contrasting textures made every bite interesting.

IMG_1409The cod brandada had the most eye-catching presentation and I’m pleased to say it tasted as good as it looked! The brandada is a kind of pureed cod with olive oil to which the vegetable crisps provided the perfect texture contrast.

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Another favourite was the crispy chicken; confit chicken thigh with romesco sauce and hazelnuts. The chicken thighs were tender and the sauce had a rich flavour.

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Finally, a special mention for the twice cooked lamb which picked up some of the Moorish influences in Spanish cooking. It was melt in the mouth delicious and served with tomatoes and red peppers. This is a must-have when you come to Iberica! It went perfectly with the Tempranillo wine.

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We finished with desserts (including churros!) and some accompanying sherries. A great reminder of my visit to the home of sherry; Jerez! Iberica is definitely my new go-to place when I want that authentic taste of Spain in the (slightly less) sunny Glasgow.

Review – Six by Nico Edinburgh

I’ve been a huge fan of Six by Nico since the Glasgow restaurant opened last year and I’ve made it along to check out nine of their menus! So when I heard that Chef Nico had decided to open an Edinburgh restaurant, needless to say I was a tad excited!

The new Hanover Street restaurant is very stylish with dark wood and grey walls with citrus highlights and marble table tops. The chefs are part of the dining experience; you can watch them in the finishing kitchen as well as get a birds-eye view of their progress on the wall mounted screen.image4

The concept is simple but genius; a new themed six-course tasting menu, every six weeks. The menus have taken inspiration from many corners of the world but have all been inventive and delicious. The menu is also very reasonably priced – £28 for the six courses and you can add matched wines for an additional £25.

The first themed menu that the Edinburgh restaurant ran with was inspired by the pinnacle of Scottish cuisine: The Chippie! But it was definitely not a greasy fish supper served in yesterday’s newspaper. This was a carefully executed meal, designed to bring the inspiration of the chip shop to your plate in unexpected ways.

I started my experience with an aperitif of Edinburgh Seaside Gin & Tonic garnished with samphire, while I looked over the exciting menu that would soon be arriving:

Chips & Cheese – parmesan espuma, crisp potato, curry oil

Scampi – Scrabster monkfish cheek, pea ketchup, herb pesto, bergamont

Steak Pie – Speyside beef shin, caramelised and charred onion, red wine

Special Fish – Shetland cod, beer emulsion, pickled mussels, confit fennel, samphire

Smoked Sausage – Ayrshire pork, salt baked celeriac, caramelised apple

Deep Fried Mars Bar – chocolate sorbets, orange, caramilla nougat

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The restaurant also had a vegetarian version of the menu, which I must say, sounded pretty delicious. It’s difficult for me to pick out highlights as I enjoyed the full meal but the beginning and end of the experience had elements of comfort food for me that gave those dishes an extra something.

The amuse bouche definitely did not have the appearance of chips and cheese! The parmesan mousse was creamy and delicious and the crispy topping inside added just enough texture to the dish. Finishing with a rich, chocolately dessert might seem a bit much for a six course tasting menu but I just loved Nico’s take on the Deep Fried Mars Bar. The caramilla nougat was heaven on a plate!

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So what does Six By Nico have in store for us next? I am beyond excited to say it’s a Willy Wonka themed menu which will run from the 15th May until 24th June. The new menu is set to begin with a reverse cheese board and end with a Wonka Bar – I’m intrigued!! There are also going to be six golden tickets which diners can exchange for an extra special prize. You can book now via https://www.sixbynico.co.uk/edinburgh/

Review: Paul Tamburrini’s new Edinburgh restaurant

The Macdonald Holyrood Hotel, close to The Scottish Parliament, is home to an exciting new restaurant called Bistro Deluxe by Paul Tamburrini.

There has been a trend in recent years, for big name chefs to put their names to hotel restaurants. Heston Blumenthal, Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White have been just some of the famous faces associated with hotel dining experiences. I was intrigued when I heard that Paul Tamburrini was collaborating with Macdonald Hotels in their new Bistro Deluxe at the Holyrood Hotel.

Paul Tamburrini trained with Marco Pierre White at the renowned L’Escargot in London and has since had stints at some of the Scotland’s best restaurants such as Martin Wishart, Rogano and Hotel du Vin. With a C.V. like that, I couldn’t wait to try his food!

The restaurant and kitchen at The Holyrood Hotel have had a quarter million pound make-over and the result looks high-end with décor in shades of muted greys and browns. The bistro also has a toasty fire; the perfect area for a post dinner nightcap.

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I was lucky enough to try out the five-course tasting menu*, allowing me to sample some of Chef’s favourite dishes paired with the sommelier’s wine choices.

After a tasty chicken broth amuse bouche paired with English pink fizz, I was ready for the first course; foie gras. It was rich and buttery and topped with a beautiful slice of caramelised apple.

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It was really interesting to have the oysters in the middle of the menu. The Lindisfarne oysters were topped with a gin and tonic granita and the effect was like a palate cleanser and delicious fresh seafood in one. The garnish you can see in the picture is an oyster leaf and it really does taste strongly of oysters, I was amazed!

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The Iberico pork was an absolute treat; melt in the mouth tender and served with delicious heritage carrots. I would highly recommend trying out a side of the creamy mash; I’m sure there are ridiculous amounts of butter in it, but it is SO worth it! The Pinot Noir was the first wine I’d tried from Uruguay and was probably my favourite wine of the evening; fruity but subtle enough not to overpower the pork.

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Crème Catalans I have tasted elsewhere have been quite heavy and topped with caramelised sugar; similar to a crème brulee. This one was light, creamy and paired with an exotic sorbet; exactly what I needed to finish off a fantastic meal.

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Bistro Deluxe by Paul Tamburrini is not like any hotel restaurant I’ve been to before. Each dish was thoughtful, flavoursome and well-executed. A great addition to the Edinburgh restaurant scene!

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*I was invited as a guest to the Bistro Deluxe press dinner and did not pay for my meal

7 Unmissable Food & Drink finds in Angus

Angus is a wonderful region full of treats for the food and drink lover. Here are a few of my top recommendations.

1.One of the most famous foods from Angus has to be the Arbroath Smokie. The Smokie has Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status. In a similar way to Champagne or Parma Ham, this means that the smokie has to be processed within five miles of Arbroath. The haddock is washed, salted and then wood-smoked in a traditional process that dates back to the 1800’s. My personal favourite is having smokies served simply with butter for breakfast but have a look over on http://www.asapsmokies.com/recipes/ for some brilliant recipe ideas.

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2. Who knew that Kirriemuir would be home to an artisan chocolate maker? Johanna Woodhead and her husband have run the gorgeous 88 Degrees café for more than 13 years and I hear that the communal bench seating has led to more than one marriage proposal! As well as being a bit of a Cilla Black, Johanna creates THE most amazing handmade chocolates. She was kind enough to let me sample the Adult Snickers (yep, as good as it sounds!) and even let me have a go at making my own truffles. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll be able to give up my day job quite yet!

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3. Angus loves a food and drink event. I attended Taste Angus at Glamis Castle and it was a brilliant day out with artisan food suppliers, celebrity chef demos and live music. Look out for its return next year. Later in 2017 there’s also Brechin Beer & Gin Festival  in September and Angus Brewfest in October to look forward to. Also the Farmers Market Montrose is held on the first Saturday of every month and the Farmers Market Forfar is held on the second Saturday of the month. Lots of great opportunities to try and buy local produce!

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4. I couldn’t talk about Angus food and drink without mentioning the famous Forfar Bridie! Whilst there are conflicting stories about the origin of the bridie, there’s no denying just how tasty they are! The delicious shortcrust pastry, the hot beef filing…. nothing quite compares! The first time I visited Forfar for work, when 12 o’clock came, I was asked the most serious question of the day “Are you going to McLaren’s or Saddler’s for your bridie?“.  One not to miss out on when you visit the town!

5. For whisky lovers, this 360 degree bar in Edzell has to be a little piece of heaven. Situated in the Glenesk Hotel, the bar is home to over 1,000 varieties with the most expensive dram setting you back a cool £195. For those less partial to Scotch, the bar also has a great vodka corner and an excellent gin selection. The lounge is the perfect place to unwind with a drink after dinner in the stunning Fairways Restaurant.

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6. Angus is home to not one, but two of my favourite gin producers! Both Arbikie and The Gin Bothy are based in the county. Arbikie has two gin varieties – Kirsty’s Gin and AK’s Gin. Both distinctly different but equally delicious.

The Gin Bothy currently have four full strength gins as well as a number of fruit infused gins which are liqueur strength. The Gin Bothy is the brainchild of Kim who gave me a sneaky peak of the brand new tasting rooms where you can enjoy a guided group sampling session. She also let me try out the full range; tough job I know! What stood out for me was how ‘real’ the fruit gins tasted. There’s no synthetic flavours added so the Raspberry Gin, my favourite, tastes like real Scottish raspberries. I also fell in love with Gunshot Gin which has won a triple star in the Great Taste Awards

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7. If, like me, you are a fan of fine dining, then Angus and the surrounding areas have a number of restaurants sure to tickle your fancy! The Tayberry in Broughty Ferry was created by award winning chef Adam Newth in 2015. Adam, from Abroath, is also Head Chef at the stunning Kinnetles Castle near Forfar and has recently opened a second Tayberry in St Andrews. My experience at The Tayberry was outstanding – you can read the full review here.

Or how about a visit to one of Chef Graham Campbell’s restaurants? The youngest person in Scotland to have received a Michelin star; he is Head Chef at both Castlehill restaurant in Dundee and the Glenesk Hotel in Edzell. I watched Graham demonstrate some of his favourite dishes recently and I loved his passion for using locally sourced produce and letting the ingredients do the talking.

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Scallops with Corn

Scallops with Corn

Review: Kinnettles Hotel, The Tayberry Restaurant and Eden Spa

St Andrews is known for being the home of golf and the famous university. It’s also home to a stunning new boutique hotel, restaurant and spa which I have been lucky enough to be invited to check out.

Kinnettles Hotel on North Street opened this summer and has nine beautiful suites. I stayed in Kingsbarns which is a Deluxe Suite on the first floor and it definitely has the ‘wow factor’. Entering the room, the first thing that caught my eye was the separate lounge area which had two huge comfortable chairs, a table and a flat screen TV. The colour pallet of classy greys and neutrals continued through to the spacious bedroom area. There was so much attention to detail throughout the room; from the coffee machine to the fluffy robes to the ESPA toiletries, every little detail had been considered.IMG_6980IMG_6974

So after getting ready in our gorgeous room, it was time for dinner. The Tayberry is sister restaurant to the original of the same name located in Broughty Ferry. Award winning chef Adam Newth is the man behind both restaurants and I was super excited to sample the food here.

My friend is coeliac and I had forgotten to mention to the restaurant in advance that she would need a gluten free menu. So I was a bit nervous when the waitress asked about dietary requirements or allergies but they honestly couldn’t have been more accommodating! She was delighted at how easy they made her dining out experience.

There were lots of delicious sounding options on the menu but we decided to put ourselves in the hands of the kitchen and try the five-course surprise tasting menu with matched wines. My friend was able to have a gluten free version which only had slight changes to accommodate her needs.

Amuse Bouche – Pressed Ham Hock, fois gras butter, pickled walnut, apple pureeIMG_7029

First Course – Scallops, pigs head fritter, soused radishes, herb emulsionIMG_7031

Second Course – Confit Duck Leg Terrine, pickled mushrooms, orange curd, ginger, fois gras briocheIMG_7045

Fish Course – Pan Roast Monkfish, chorizo & borlotti cassoulet, garlic butterIMG_7048

Main Course – Braised Ox Cheek, creamed potato, burnt leek, pearl onionsIMG_7057

Dessert – Pittormie Strawberries, white chocolate, elderflower sorbet, baby basilIMG_7061

As you can see, the presentation throughout was perfection! The quality of the ingredients and the flavours really came through. From the juicy scallops to the melt in the mouth ox cheek, each dish was a taste sensation. If I really had to pick, then I’d say the monkfish and chorizo dish was my favourite; the fish was cooked perfectly and worked really well with the cassoulet. The matched wines were very good; we enjoyed a selection of red, white and fizz selected to compliment each dish.

After dinner we moved through to the beautiful bar area and checked out the cocktail menu which I’m pleased to say has a good number of gin cocktails! A nightcap in the bar was the perfect end to the evening before retiring to the suite to find there had been a turn-down service with slippers placed by the bed and bottles of water on the bedside tables. Nice touch!IMG_7079

Breakfast in the restaurant was another treat to look forward to and staff didn’t need to be reminded of my friend’s coeliac; they already had the gluten free bread on hand. From the cooked selection, I opted for eggs benedict which was just the way I like with runny yokes and thick, good quality ham.IMG_7086

Eden Spa within the hotel is definitely worth checking out. The spa is not huge but is perfectly formed with a sauna, steam-room and Jacuzzi which have been finished to a really high standard. There are a great range of ESPA treatments available so my friend and I decided to treat ourselves. Our lovely therapists, Carly and Ruby, first gave us a Jessica Geleration manicure (the most difficult part was choosing from all the pretty colours) and then an ESPA back, neck and shoulder massage. As the treatment rooms are spacious, we were able to have our treatments together. This is ideal for friends/couples etc. The massages were soooo relaxing, we almost felt like we could float out of the spa – what a great end to our visit!IMG_7093

Apart from the sheer luxury of it all, what really stood out for me was how lovely the staff were at Kinnettles. From Grant, the General Manager, to the restaurant staff, to the therapists in the spa; everyone was so welcoming and enthusiastic about the new venue. It really made for the perfect getaway and one night here felt like a proper holiday!

*I was a guest of Kinnettles and The Tayberry and received a complimentary stay.

Edinburgh Festival Food and Drink Experiences 2017

August is one of the most exciting months in Edinburgh’s social calendar. With The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the Edinburgh International Book Festival and Edinburgh Festival Fringe all going on, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to comedy, music and theatre options. 2017 is an extra special year as it marks the 70th year of the Fringe Festival.

If you’d like to include some food and drink themed fun in your plans, here are my top tips for the 2017 Edinburgh festival.

 

1. Ice Cream from Mary’s Milk Bar

Sometimes the sun shines in Edinburgh. Mostly it doesn’t. Either way, make sure you sample the delights of Mary’s Milk Bar! The soft gelato is freshly made each day and comes in exciting flavours like Fried Bananas in Butter or Fig & Goats Cheese. Check out Mary’s Instagram page to see the mouth-watering treats https://www.instagram.com/marysmilkbar/?hl=en

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2. Fine Dining and Enchantment

If you only do one thing at the festival this year, make it this. The Illusionist’s Table was my highlight of the 2016 Fringe.  The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is a brilliant venue and you can look forward to an evening of food, whisky and enchantment. Always a sell out so make sure you get your tickets well in advance. https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/at-the-illusionist-s-table

3. Fresh Seafood

Stop by Odine for Oyster Happy Hour! Oysters are only £1 a shuck (5.30 – 6.30pm Mon – Thur, 5.00- 6.00pm Fri – Sat).

https://www.ondinerestaurant.co.uk/oyster-hour/

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4. Have a dram

Scotch whisky is famous across the world and with good reason! We have over 100 distilleries in Scotland so why not take the opportunity to try out the national drink during the festival this year? Here are some of the planned tasting sessions available:

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5. Foodies Festival

I’ve been along to Foodies Festival a few times and it’s always a great day out with loads to see and samples to taste. This year is set to include appearances from top chef Mark Greenaway, a Vintage Tea Tent and even a Chilli Eating Competition! The festival takes place at Inverleith Park between 4th and 6th August. http://www.foodiesfestival.com/edinburgh-food-festival/

Foodies Festival fun

Foodies Festival fun

6. Dram & Smoke Pop Up Dining

Meet new people and try some Scottish seasonal delights at this pop-up dining event in a former biscuit factory. You can expect a welcome cocktail and a four course dining experience followed by live music. The coolest way to have dinner during the festival! https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/dram-smoke-the-campfire-feasts-pop-up

7.  Picnic in Princes Street Gardens

Princes St Gardens were created in two phases in the 1770’s and 1820’s following the draining of Nor Loch (where they used to drown Edinburgh’s witches…. go on a ghost tour to hear more about this).  The Gardens are a lovely place to sit and people watch while you have a great view of Edinburgh Castle. Why not stop off Valvona & Crolla for some gourmet picnic ingredients? Remember to tweet me with your picnic pics @girlversusfood

8. Dining and Cabaret Show

A four course meal and evening of traditional Scots fiddle and bagpipes will make for a great night out at Prestonfield House. I’ve visited Prestonfield before and I was really impressed by the grand 17th-century building and the delicious food. https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/famous-taste-of-scotland

Prestonfield House

Prestonfield House

9. Visit a Farmer’s Market

There are weekend Farmers Market in Stockbridge, Leith and the Grassmarket which stock a wonderful variety of local produce. Check out the website for details. http://www.stockbridgemarket.com/

10. The Gin Whore Tour

Historical tales of hooch and harlots, paired with the very best gins….sounds like my kind of thing! The one-woman show is back for a second year and will be running from 21st to 27th of August (four gins are included in the ticket price). Here I am with the fabulous Gin Whore herself: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/gin-whore-tour

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11. Thai Cookery Class

Get hands on with this Thai cookery workshop from executive chef Rujira Herd where you will make an autherntic three-course lunch. Rujira has been running the Thai cook school from an Edinburgh town house for nearly 20 years and has a wealth of knowledge about the traditional cuisine of her homeland. https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/thai-cookery-workshop-with-lunch

12. Sample Some Sweet Treats

  • Check out The Marshmallow Lady for the fluffiest of marshmallows made from Scottish butter, cream and Fair Trade Sugar. Most are gluten free. Prosecco and Rose Petal Flavour? Yes, please! http://www.burghbakes.com/
  • Shortbread has a long tradition in Scotland. Try this biscuit at its best at the fabulous Pinnies and Poppy Seeds bakery; will you go traditional or try the butter pecan? http://pinniesandpoppyseeds.com/
  • Mimi’s Bakery on the Royal Mile is a great place to go for cakes, traybakes, brownies, cupcakes, muffins and scones. Mid-afternoon sugar fix sorted! http://mimisbakehouse.com/pages/mimislittlebakehouse-oldtown

13. Bring Your ‘A’ Game

Highland estate distiller Arbikie will be back with their ‘A Club’ this year bringing the most delicious artisan cocktails and best live music to Merchants Hall. Hop over to Arbikie Club for the full low-down. https://www.arbikieclub.com/

14. Spend time at Summerhall

It’s not just the Fringe that turns seventy this year. Pickerings Gin are celebrating 70 years since their 1947 recipe was created. That makes it a great time to head to their distillery at Summerhall. You can hang out in the gin garden, take a tour of the distillery or even play the gin-themed escape room.

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/pickering-s-gin-jolly

https://www.pickeringsgin.com/tours-tastings/lockedin-the-distillery/

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Chaophraya Edinburgh – £35 Graduation Menu

I’ve visited Chaophraya (pronounced chow-pry-a, in case you were wondering!) before and always had delicious food so I was really excited to be asked to go along and sample their special Graduation Menu. The menu is running between the 19th of June and 30th of July and offers three courses plus a glass of Prosecco for £35.

The Thai restaurant is located on the corner of Castle Street and George Street and is up on the third floor which means you get the most amazing views of the city. You can see all the way from the coast, right round to the castle. Just look at this sunset:878FFF8E-CD23-43C4-B893-33CE3A7CB784 (1)

When making your reservation, I would request a table with a castle view, but the restaurant interior is beautiful too. You can always enjoy a pre or post-dinner cocktail on the roof top terrace.

There are three or four options to choose from for each course. My friend and I opted for the Chicken Satay and the Soft Shell Crab with Prawn Tempura. Both starters, particularly the seafood, were generous in size and well presented. The batter on the prawns and crab was light and crispy and it was also served with tempura asparagus and onion rings.IMG_6583

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For our mains we opted for the Thai Green Chicken Curry and the Chaophraya classic – Weeping Tiger. There is a choice of rice or noodles as a side dishes to go with the main courses. The Green Curry was perfectly balanced, not too spicy and contained plenty of chicken as well as aubergine and courgette. Jasmine rice was the right choice of an accompaniment as it soaked up all the lovely curry sauce.

The Weeping Tiger (£5 supplement) is a sirloin steak which is served on a sizzling platter with an accompaniment of different Thai sauces. It really is quite impressive as it arrives at the table in all its sizzling glory. It came medium to well done (I would normally have my steaks medium/rare) but it was still tender and the different sauces were so tasty.IMG_6589

On to dessert, and we ordered a Sticky Toffee Pudding and the Trio of Sorbet. The sorbets were light and refreshing, I preferred the Peach & Prosecco and Mango flavours to the Lemongrass one. The Sticky Toffee Pudding looked very pretty, topped with ice cream and an edible flower. It was an indulgent and delicious finish to the meal.

The graduation menu at Chaophraya is good value and you can look forward to great service and dinner in a beautiful setting.

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The Spanish Butcher Review

I’ve been keen to try The Spanish Butcher since it opened on Miller Street, Glasgow in December 2016 so I was delighted to be invited along this month to sample the pre-theatre menu. The people behind The Spanish Butcher own two of my favourite Glasgow restaurants; Hutchesons and The Butchershop so I definitely had high expectations!

My first impressions of the restaurant were good; I received a warm welcome and I really liked the stylish décor; dark green walls, lots of wood and plenty of candlelight. Even the toilets are swish looking!

While we looked at the menu we enjoyed some warm sourdough bread and THE most delicious olives I’ve ever tasted. The green gorda olives were juicy and perfectly marinated. There’s a big focus on produce and provenance at the restaurant; from the beef sourced from 12-14 year old Galician cattle from northern Spain to the 30 month matured authentic Jamon Iberico de Bellota. I found staff to be very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the menu.

There’s an extensive wine list with bottles ranging from £19 up to £425. There’s also a good selection available by the glass. We took a recommendation from our waitress and went with a nice smooth bottle of Rioja which was very enjoyable.image1

So on to the meal. To start, I had the confit pork belly stew with chorizo, morcilla, butterbeans and charred bread. My friend went for the Shetland mussels which were sautéed with chorizo, lobster stock, fennel and also served with charred bread. Both starter portions were generous. The pork belly was melt in the mouth and really tasty, if just a touch salty. The mussels were fresh and flavoursome and it was nice to have the bread to dip in the juices at the bottom of the dish.IMG_4816

Pork Belly Stew

Pork Belly Stew

For the main course, my friend chose the Galician hogget stew served with charred bread. In texture and flavour this had similarities to my starter and again was a little bit salty, but very tasty.IMG_4817

I opted for the Secreto Iberico de Bellota which comes with truffle manchego fries and Mojo verde. Secreto means “the secret cut” and comes from the acorn-fed Iberico pig. The meat was super tender and I would describe it as tasting like somewhere between bacon and steak.

The side of fries were something else; crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and the truffle flavour was complimented by the grated Manchego cheese.image3image2

So did The Spanish Butcher live up to my high expectations? Absolutely! Delicious food, a great selection of wine and enthusiastic staff. The lunch and pre-theatre menu is also excellent value at two courses for £15.

Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Edinburgh Review

The Marco Pierre White Steakhouse in Edinburgh is the new kid on the block amongst some well-established steak places in the city. As a steak-lover, I was delighted to be invited along to check out the menu in the new Edinburgh restaurant last week.

The restaurant is located within the Carlton Hotel, located on North Bridge. Marco Pierre White has a number of steakhouses across the UK but the only other one in Scotland is in Glasgow. Now operated by Hilton, The Carlton recently underwent a £17m facelift and I must say it is looking very swish! Check out this grand staircase leading up to the restaurant which is situated on the first floor.IMG_4281

There were some rather imposing signs inside and outside the hotel advertising the restaurant with larger than life photographs of the celebrity chef. However, the décor in the restaurant itself was modern and classy with a grey and neutral colour palate. I really liked the spacious booths as they gave a sense of privacy without feeling too enclosed.IMG_4235

The MPW staff were friendly and made me feel welcome. Our waiter was confident in answering questions about the menu and attentive throughout the meal.

So onto the menu itself. There were eight starters to choose from including three vegetarian options. As a major cheese fan, I couldn’t resist going for the warm baked Camembert with toasted sourdough and roasted vine tomatoes with vintage balsamic. My friend opted for the crispy devilled whitebait served with tartare sauce. It was a generous portion of whitebait and the batter was nice and light. The baked Camembert came served in its box with two big slices of sour dough. This was a simple dish but well-presented and very tasty; what’s not to love about bread and melted cheese?IMG_4242IMG_4245

Given we were checking out a steakhouse, we were always going to order steaks for our main course! However, there were a lot of tempting alternatives; the lamb sounded delicious, as did the burgers.

I opted for the 10oz Ribeye steak and my dining buddy opted for the 16oz T-bone steak.  The beef is 28 day aged steak and comes from Campbell Brothers Butchers. The 100-year-old butchers based in Bonnyrigg have a Royal Warrant so you can be assured you’re receiving excellent quality produce. The steaks are served with skinny chips and a green salad and there are also a selection of sauces to choose from. I picked the escargot in garlic and parsley butter. The meat was cooked perfectly and had a lovely char on the outside.

One of the ‘Chosen by Marco Pierre White’ wines on the menu is Syrah but our waiter said that the Argentinian Malbec was also very good. I sampled both and my preference was for the fruitier Malbec.IMG_4254IMG_4259

The selection of desserts was traditional with options including Eton Mess, Sticky Toffee Pudding and Knickerbocker Glory. I picked the Cambridge Burnt Cream and my friend chose the Warm Chocolate Brownie. The desserts were generously portioned and indulgent. It would have been great if there had been dessert wines available to match this final course.

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A good steak dinner is a thing of beauty and you’re sure to find this at the MPW Steakhouse in Edinburgh. If you want to check out the restaurant for yourself, the Pre-theatre Menu is really good value at three courses for £19.95 including a glass of Processo. Check out the website for details http://www.mpwrestaurants.co.uk/restaurants/steakhouse-edinburgh/offers/pre-theatre-menu

11 Fun and Romantic Dates in Edinburgh

With its spectacular skyline and historic buildings, Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful cities in the world; making it the perfect location for a date! Who needs Paris when we have Auld Reekie? But what are the most fun and romantic dates you can undertake in the city?

  1. Catch an Edinburgh sunset. Get up high to a vantage point to see the best views of sunset over the city. My favourite spots are the top of Arthurs Seat or Calton Hill. Dress for the weather and perhaps take a picnic and a bottle of bubbles. You can check the sunset times for each month here https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/uk/edinburgh. If you don’t fancy an uphill trek, you can still see a good sunset from some bars and restaurants.
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    View from Arthurs Seat

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    View from Chaophraya Restaurant

  2. Toast your date with a romantic cocktail in one of Edinburgh’s many bars. Heads and Tales bar have created this special love themed cocktail using Edinburgh Gin’s limited edition Valentines Gin, Orange Columbo, Pamplemousse Rose and Campari.

    Heads & Tales Valentines Cocktail

    Heads & Tales Valentines Cocktail

  3. Take in some culture together. Both the National Museum of Scotland and the National Gallery have free entry and are brilliant for a wander around. See if you can find any faces that look like your date amongst the portraits hanging on the gallery walls!IMG_4155
  4. What could be more romantic than star-gazing? Experts at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh will talk you through the wonders of the night sky and (weather permitting) you will get the chance to look through the powerful telescopes. http://www.roe.ac.uk/vc/public-events/astronomy-evenings.
  5. From lemurs to lions, Edinburgh Zoo has an amazing collection of wildlife. Don’t forget to check out the Penguin Parade. Bonus points of you spot any of the animals involved in their own ‘romantic liaisons’!image1
  6. There are hundreds of options for a romantic meal in Edinburgh. If you are feeling extravagant, push the boat out and visit one of the city’s four Michelin star restaurants; Restaurant Martin Wishart, The Kitchin, 21212 or Number One at The Balmoral.

    Scallops with escargot butter at The Kitchin

    Scallops with escargot butter at The Kitchin

  7. Share a sweet treat with your sweetheart. If ice cream is your thing then check out Mary’s Milk Bar. Mary’s soft gelato is freshly made each day and comes in wonderful flavours like Goats Cheese & Honey and Whisky & Pecan.
  8. Edinburgh has a spooky and at times gruesome history! A ghost walk will get the heart racing and give you the opportunity to cosy-up to your other half. There are a number of guided ghost walks that allow you to experience Edinburgh’s closes, graveyards and underground vaults.
  9. If you or your other half are cat lovers then Maison de Moggy is the must visit cat café in Edinburgh. Have some tea, cake and share your date with the prettiest kitties in town.
  10. Camera Obscura is a fun date with six floors of illusions and interactive exhibits. The rooftop chamber contains the camera obscura itself where you will see live images of Edinburgh projected onto the viewing table.
  11. Share some laughs together at The Stand comedy club. The Stand has seen some famous faces perform over the years including Kevin Bridges and Frankie Boyle but regardless of who is on the bill, you’re in for a great night.

Which other favourite spots would you include on the list? I’d love to hear your ideas!

 

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