As we kick off 2016, I wanted to reflect back on my favourite dining experiences of last year! So in no particular order, here’s my Top 5 of 2015:
- Moonfish Café, Aberdeen. Moonfish specialises in seafood and gin – two of my most favourite things! Head Chef of the restaurant is former ‘MasterChef The Professionals’ finalist Brian Mcleish who has a distinctive creative flair and a passion for fresh, local ingredients. A three course dinner at the restaurant is great value at £36.95 and as the menu is changed regularly there’s always something new and exciting to try. I was blown away by the flavour combinations and the stunning presentation. I particularly enjoyed the halibut with swede puree, fava beans and truffle. Oh and the Chocolate Pave with malted nuts and white chocolate fudge….. if it’s on the menu you MUST order it! Yum! As well as Moonfish, Head Chef Brian has an exciting new venture this year; check out his Pop Up Restaurant here.
- Porter & Rye, Glasgow. If you love a good steak, Porter & Rye, in the Finnieston area of Glasgow, is for you. The restaurant specialises in fine aged meats which are sourced from Gaindykehead Farm in Airdrie before being dry-aged on the premises for up to 28 days. During my visit, I shared a huge Porterhouse steak which was cooked to perfection and was literally melt in the mouth. The sides; I tried the bone marrow mac ‘n’ cheese and truffle salt fries, were equally delicious. The place had a buzzing atmosphere and staff were friendly and attentive. There’s a lot of competition in the Glasgow steak market but having tried many of the rest, I’d still recommend this as the best.
- The Kitchin, Edinburgh. A visit to a Michelin star restaurant is always an experience and this was exceptional. Tom Kitchin’s ‘From Nature to Plate’ ethos comes through loud and clear with a massive emphasis on Scottish seasonal produce. I had the ‘Celebration of the Season Surprise Tasting Menu’ paired with matched wines. I loved finding a scroll of a map of Scotland at my place setting showing where the ingredients for my forthcoming meal had been sourced. Highlights included the scallops in escargot butter with squid. The game platter, which included a venison tartar, was delicious. Our waitress was excellent and the sommelier made some fantastic choices for us. This is not only one of my best meals of 2015 but probably the best dining experience I’ve ever had! Time to get saving for a return visit…
- Monachyle Mhor, Balquhidder. Monachyle Mhor is a 14 bedroom boutique hotel set in a 2,000 acre estate on the shores of Loch Voil. It’s restaurant headed up by chef Maria Paszkowska and offers dinner at a set price of £55 per person for three courses. It was at Monachyle Mhor that I tried my first ever oyster, which was in a shallot and 10 year old Glengoyne whisky dressing; delicious! I chose West Coast crab with black pudding for my starter and lamb for my main. The food was full of flavour and the breath-taking views really added to the ambience of the meal. What a great experience!
- Chapter One, Dublin. During a summertime visit to Dublin, I took the opportunity to visit Chapter One, one of several Michelin star restaurants in the city. It was truly a warm Irish welcome from co-owner and maître d’, Martin Corbett who made us feel instantly at home. To start, I enjoyed Parmesan ravioli with asparagus and a lemon emulsion which tasted like summer on a plate. Next I went for the short rib of beef which was slow-cooked to perfection and came with a side of the best cheesy gnocchi I’ve ever tasted. The pre-theatre menu was brilliant value at £27 (€37.50) for three courses. Chapter One is a must visit in Dublin.
So that’s a roundup of some of my best experiences of 2015. Have you visited any of the above? Which other restaurants would have made your list of favourites for last year?