Girl Versus Food

Reviews, recipes and thoughts from a Scottish food blogger

Tag: Edinburgh restaurants

Review: Paul Tamburrini Edinburgh

I was recently lucky enough to be invited to enjoy a tasting menu at Paul Tamburrini’s restaurant in The Macdonald Holyrood Hotel. What a way to spend a Monday evening! The restaurant, located close to the Scottish Parliament, opened around 18 months ago.

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.

I tried out a six-course surprise tasting menu with paired wine. The amuse bouche was a crab and lemongrass chowder but the texture was surprisingly more like a foam than what I would expect as a chowder. The lemongrass managed not to overpower the delicate crab. A great start to the meal!

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Next up was the rich and buttery foie gras. It came with a white wine jelly and aubergine miso puree. The acidity of the paired Gewurztraminer wine cut through the richness of the dish. image2

The following dish was probably my favourite; Orkney sea scallop with caramelised cauliflower, cauliflower puree and curry oil. The scallop was sweet and cooked perfectly and the dish was paired with an Austrian white which complimented it well. image3

The duck was the main course, served with braised chicory, brambles and celeriac puree. I really enjoyed the flavours in this dish but it did strike me as more of an autumnal dish than one I would expect to be served in Spring. It was served with a lovely, fruity Pinot Noir.

Dessert was crispy choux bun, served with a caramel sauce and chocolate ice cream. The sweet decadence was just what I was looking for from the dessert.

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To finish the meal I was served Tete de Moine; a cheese from the Swiss mountains, which is served in thin shavings. Apparently this is to help the flavour and odour develop as more oxygen reaches the surface. The cheese was served with quince and some lovely walnut bread. It was paired with sherry; whilst I do like sherry, the amontillado didn’t quite worked for me and I swapped it for a port which was more to my taste. image2

The main hostess who served us was fantastic; great service and got the timings just right. The other staff were young and a little less experienced but definitely keen to please. The restaurant is stylish and modern and the experience overall was excellent.

Sicily at Six by Nico Edinburgh Review  

From Palermo in the north to Catania in the east, with active volcano Mount Etna towering over it, Sicily is a treat for the eyes and the belly. A couple of friends of mine travelled around Sicily this summer and I was glued to their Instagram! The sights and food looked equally breath-taking. So when Six by Nico announced their latest menu was going to be Sicily themed, I knew I couldn’t miss it.

Sicily has been inhabited by the Greeks, Arabs, Spanish and the Normans at various points over the centuries and these influences come across in both the culture and the food. The soil is fertile due to volcanic eruptions and the warm climate makes it perfect for growing lemons, oranges, tomatoes, olives and pistachios. Fishing is also important to the island and local catches include tuna, sardine and swordfish. With these ingredients to work with, I was excited to see what Nico and his team would come up with.

If you’ve not been to Six by Nico yet (where have you been?) the concept is a new themed six-course tasting menu, every six weeks. The menu is very reasonably priced – £28 for the six courses and you can add matched wines for an additional £25.

To begin, there were three different types of arancini to try. My favourite had to be the red pepper with smoked mozzarella. The risotto balls were a good start to the meal and left me wanting more.IMG_6102

Next up was slow cooked aubergine served with creamy ricotta and Trapenese pesto. So both of the first two courses were meat free but certainly not lacking in flavour or substance. It worth noting that there is also a vegetarian menu, or if desired individual courses can be swapped out for the vegetarian alternative.IMG_6121

The fish dish was beautiful, fresh seared tuna served with puttanesca, a caper and raisin purée and some crispy kale. The tuna was cooked perfectly and the accompaniments complimented the fish and allowed its flavour to shine through.IMG_6126

Then it was on to a pasta dish of saffron pappardelle and ox cheek ragu. The ragu had been slow cooked for a deep, rich flavour. The dish was topped with a cheese crisp which was a bit like when you make a cheese toastie and some cheese runs out and crisps up. Delicious!IMG_6136

There were more traditional Sicilian flavours coming through on the pork fillet and sausage dish which had an orange and pistachio dressing. This dish was tasty, but maybe a little too filling straight after the pasta.IMG_6145

Dessert was a Sicilian Lemon Tart with whipped creme Fraiche, granita and candied rosemary. I’m not going to lie, I had been hoping for some Cannoli for dessert! However the lemon tart was certainly not a disappointment. It was zingy and fresh and the perfect ending to the meal.IMG_6151

This was another brilliant and inventive menu at Six by Nico. It runs until the 28th of October at both the Edinburgh and Glasgow restaurants. The next menu has just been announced as a Middle Eastern theme and I must say, it sounds absolutely delicious.

 

Mono Edinburgh Review

Does Italian food automatically make you think of hearty, homely cooking; lasagne, Bolognese, pizza? The type of meal where you might need to undo the top button on your trousers afterwards? If you fancy trying a different side of Italian cuisine, I may just have found the perfect place!

Mono opened a few months ago and I’d heard really positive things so I was keen to try it out. It describes itself as ‘progressive Italian dining’ and walking in off the busy South Bridge, it felt like a serene sanctuary with tasteful, modern décor.

The three course lunch (£22) seemed like a good starting point and I added on matched wines at £15. Mono also do à la carte as well as a tasting menu. The lunch menu is concise, with three or four options for each course. The menu doesn’t give a lot of clues as to how the ingredients will be served, but that’s part of the excitement.

After a delicious beetroot and goats cheese amuse bouche and some hand made bread and olive oil, it was on to the first course. I opted for the baked ricotta whilst my friend chose the tuna tortellini. The ricotta dish had lots of colourful elements on the plate and was finished with a tomato consommé poured over the top. The baked ricotta and creamy ricotta mousse worked well with the other elements including the olives, tomatoes and what my friend described as the orange ‘pieces of coral reef’. The tuna tortellini was fresh, had a beautiful bergamot sauce and was topped with crispy onions.

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IMG_6009On to the mains and I had taken our waiter’s recommendation on the cod. A decision I did not regret! The fish was well seasoned and perfectly cooked. The accompanying mussels were a treat! My friend opted for the porcini risotto; probably one of the more traditional dishes on the menu but perfectly executed and the mushroom flavour came across well.

IMG_6016For the desserts we opted for the olive oil cake and the plum tart. This was my first olive oil cake and I was pleasantly surprised. It had a soft texture and wasn’t overly sweet but the honeycomb and ice-cream on the dish gave the right balance. The plum and chocolate tart was dramatically served with a puff of Laphroaig whisky from a perfume bottle.

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The staff in Mono were knowledgeable and attentive without being overbearing. They chose some really nice matched wines for us which I thought were excellent value at £15.

This was an all-round excellent experience and I confirm I there was no need to unbutton my jeans after lunch!

Keep an eye out for special events from Mono; the most recent one was an eight course Truffle Tasting Menu which sounded unbelievable!

I was invited along as a guest of Mono.

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

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

My Top 5 Restaurants of 2015

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:

  1. 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.Lamb course
  2. 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.image4
  3. 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…venison tartar
  4. 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!
  5. image7Chapter 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.image2

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?

Review of The Scran & Scallie, Edinburgh

The Scran & Scallie in Edinburgh’s Stockbridge was high on my wish list of restaurants to visit in 2015 and this month I finally made it! Tom Kitchin and Dominic Jack are chefs well-known for their fine dining menus but at The Scran & Scallie they’ve teamed up to provide a more casual eating out experience while still focussing on locally sourced, quality ingredients.

The restaurant only take reservations on half of their tables and when I called to book a few days in advance, there were none available. Bummer! So we decided to take a chance and arrive at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon, in the hope that choosing a time in between lunch and dinner would mean we’d get a table. Thankfully, the ploy worked and they were able to accommodate my husband and I with only a ten minute wait. This gave us time to get a drink at the bar. I was super impressed by the enthusiastic barman who suggested I try a Rock Rose gin with tonic and some toasted rosemary. This particular combination is easily in my top three gins! Mr GvF was delighted to see a great selection of ales available by the bottle and on tap.Delicious Rock Rose gin

We headed through to our table in the dining room and poured over the menu which had a range of poshed-up pub classics like sausage and mash, as well as more unusual dishes like roasted quail. My dining partner started with Beef Tartare and Bone Marrow Toast. The tartare was served with an egg yolk on top and I knew it must have been good due to the lack of conversation as he tucked in!

Beef Tartar

I enjoyed some of the fresh complimentary bread and held out for my main of Monkfish with Pancetta and Puy Lentils. Mr GvF went for one of the specials for his main which was Squid Ink Pasta with Seafood. We were both chuffed with our mains, the monkfish was cooked to perfection and the impressive jet black pasta was packed with loads of tasty seafood.

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Squid ink pasta

Regular readers will know that I find it very difficult to pass up a dessert and this was no exception! I chose a rich chocolate brownie served in a skillet with popcorn and the creamiest of ice-cream!

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We had two courses each as well as a good few drinks and the bill came in at roughly £80. I loved the relaxed atmosphere in The Scran & Scallie and it was great to see young families out enjoying a meal together (there is even a small playroom for kids). The service was excellent, both in the restaurant and the bar and the ‘From Nature to Plate” ethos really came through in the quality of ingredients and the flavours. I would highly recommend checking out ‘The Scran & Scallie’ next time you’re in Stockbridge.


MP’s Bistro, Edinburgh

This week, I was invited along to sample the menu at the MP’s Bistro at Parliament House Hotel which is just a five minute walk away from Waverley Station at the foot of Calton Hill. The building has a fascinating history with the oldest part dating back to the 1760’s. It has had many uses over the years and was even home to the office of ‘Trainspotting‘ author, Irvine Welsh. During the latest refurbishment, when the property was changed into a hotel, the original range cooker was uncovered and forms part of the restaurant décor.

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I loved that the old lift had been transformed into a charming phone cubicle; as modelled by my friend and dinner guest, Kerry!

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The menu has a strong Scottish theme, with lots of locally sourced ingredients. It’s also fab value with the 3 course pre-theatre menu coming in at £20.50. To start, we both went for seafood – I chose crab cakes while my dining partner had a classic prawn cocktail; both were generously portioned.

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For the main, I opted for lamb steaks and Kerry chose the hake fillet with a caper, shrimp and leek butter.

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Desserts, I must say, were the highlight of the meal. I had a heather honey pannacotta while my friend had a baked lemon cheesecake. The desserts were rich, indulgent and beautifully presented. The perfect end to the meal.

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Fancy trying out the MP’s Bistro for yourself? They have a brilliant offer on just now where if have dinner in the restaurant before 30th April 2015, you can go back and enjoy a main course for free in May! You can book a table here.

 

 

*Please note, this meal was courtesy of MP’s Bistro

The Skerries Restaurant, Edinburgh

The Dunstane is a little gem of a boutique hotel that I hadn’t come across until I recently found out about the Skerries restaurant there. The restaurant is a wee piece of Orcadian heaven only a five minute walk from Haymarket station. The Mowat family who own the hotel come from Orkney and were keen to share the culinary delights of the Islands with the people of Edinburgh.

I was lucky enough to attend the re-launch night where I got to chat with their new head chef, Paul Hood, who has worked in some of the City’s finished kitchens including Prestonfield House. Paul is passionate about his Scottish menu and told me that it will be refreshed monthly so that every time you visit the restaurant there will be new dishes to sample. Here I am with Chef Paul and winner of Masterchef Professionals 2014, Chef Jamie Scott. I think you could call this a Chef Sandwich!image1b

It was great to see that the restaurant has a close working relationship with its suppliers; their butcher was on hand to talk about how the meat is sourced and prepared. I sampled some delicious canapés including mini venison burgers; why is that things in miniature always taste twice as good?  My mouth was watering at the special ‘Orkney Tasting Menu’ filled with scallops, lamb, beef and cheeses all from the Islands.

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I hope to return to The Skerries for a full Orkney dining experience soon so stay tuned for my full review!

 

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