Girl Versus Food

Reviews, recipes and thoughts from a Scottish food blogger

Tag: restaurant reviews

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.

Bistro Deluxe by Paul Tamburrini A

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.


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!


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.


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.


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!

Macdonald Holyrood Hotel - Paul Tamburrini B

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

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.

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.


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

Dublin: Irish Whiskey and Fine Dining

Can you believe I went to Dublin and found a bar with locals in it? Quite an achievement when the city gets more than seven million visitors a year! The Palace Bar is a wee gem just a five minute walk from the tourist throng at Temple Bar. The traditional Victorian pub, located on Fleet Street, has an excellent range of Irish whiskeys which reflect the recent resurgence in the industry which had all but died out. Walking into the pub, I got the feeling that the world had been put to rights here many a time. This was a talking pub. Where generations have met and tall tales have been told.

Palace Bar

We were served by Willie Ahern, whose father owns the bar. Willie’s grandfather bought the bar in 1946 and it has stayed in the family since then. One of the things that makes The Palace Bar stand out is that it boasts its very own whiskey. In years gone by, it was common place for bars to distil their own spirits.  My husband is a whisky fan, so between pints of Guinness, he tried out Palace Bar Whiskey. The 14 year old single malt (which contains malt of up to 21 years in age) got a big thumbs up and compared favourably to some of his favourite Scotch. In fact, it was so good he had to have a second nip to be sure he really liked it. There are only 1,000 bottles being produced in this run and you can pick it up online here.

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After checking out a few of the city’s bars, it was time to cross the river for dinner at Chapter One restaurant. The restaurant is one of five Michelin star eateries in Dublin and I chose it based on a recommendation from a friend. The restaurant is very popular, so booking is essential.


Upon ringing the bell, we received a warm Irish welcome from co-owner and maître d’, Martin Corbett. The basement level restaurant is still surprisingly bright with a minimalist feel and some beautiful pieces of art.

From the Wicklow lamb to the Kilkenny veal, it was clear from looking at the menu that the restaurant had put a great deal of thought in to using seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. The pre-theatre menu is fantastic value at £27 (€37.50) for three courses. At our request, the wine sommelier chose some excellent wines to accompany each dish for us.


To start, I opted for Parmesan ravioli with asparagus and a lemon emulsion. My husband went for the carpaccio of rose veal which was served with black beluga lentils. Both dishes were beautifully presented. I was pleased to see the chef had taken advantage of the relatively short asparagus season; my pasta dish tasted like summer on a plate.


For our mains, Mr GvF chose the loin of pork with cabbage and smoked buttermilk mash, while I went for the short rib of beef. The beef was slow-cooked to perfection and came with a side of the best cheesy gnocchi I’ve ever tasted. I literally could eat that gnocchi every day; the best comfort food ever!

Pork loin

Rib of beefGnocchi


To finish we went for the organic ice cream with honeycomb and the chocolate mousse. The desserts were indulgent but not overly heavy and there was a lovely variation in texture and flavour.



From start to finish, the Chapter One experience was a delight. The personal, knowledgeable service and the wonderful food mean that the restaurant is definitely in my 2015 dining highlights. It is also, without doubt, the best value Michelin star restaurant I’ve visited!

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With proprietor Martin Corbett


Restaurant Wish List 2015

After a fantastic 2014 of food, I am feeling enthusiastic about a new year of dining out! Read on to find out what’s top of my wish list for 2015….

Pompadour by Galvin is billed as the Grand Old Lady of Edinburgh restaurants. If that’s what old age does to you – bring on the wrinkles, I say! The sample al a carte menu sounds delish – in particular the starter of ‘Roast Hand Dived Scallops, Pig’s Trotter & Veal Sweetbreads, Parsnip Purée, Apple Fondants’ has my mouth watering.

Meanwhile, Glasgow is going all Heston on us with Porter & Rye, a newly opened restaurant on Argyle Street, which specialises in molecular dining and quality beef from Gaindykehead Farm. I’m intrigued, but let’s be honest; the truffle salt fries alone are enough to get me through the door!

I’m not going to lie, I did give a little squeal of excitement when I opened the Christmas gift from my lovely sister-in-law to find vouchers for The Kitchin, Leith. Someone knows me too well! A visit to a Michelin star restaurant is always an experience and this is one place I can’t wait to try! The a la carte menu sounds amazing with a massive emphasis on Scottish seasonal produce but I think I have my heart set on the ‘Celebration of the Season Surprise Tasting Menu’. Watch this space for my review!

During this year’s MasterChef: The Professionals, I genuinely wished taste-o-vision had been invented. From the signature dishes to the innovation tests, my stomach rumbled the whole way through. That’s why Moonfish Café in Aberdeen is one of my must visits for 2015. Brian McLeish, one of the three finalists on the show, is Head Chef at the restaurant which turns out phenomenal seafood and also has an impressive gin selection.


Restaurant Mark Greenaway is next on my 2015 hit list. The Edinburgh restaurant has 3 AA rossettes and the dining room looks gorgeous. As a self-confessed pudding fan I am particularly excited to try Mark’s famous desserts! Fingers (and toes) crossed that Mark’s ‘Great British Menu “Knot” Chocolate Tart’ is still on the menu when I visit.

Now for a second entry on my wish list from the creative genius that is Tom Kitchin. At The Scran & Scallie the ethos is still ‘From Nature to Plate’ but this time it’s not fine dining but a relaxed gastro pub. The rustic surroundings and tasty sounding ‘scran’ made this a no-brainer for my list. Plus there’s a good selection of ales and single malts to keep the husband happy.

The final wish on my 2015 list might be a little far fetched but bear with me. So here’s the dream, I fly in (by sea plane, of course) to the heart of Rob Roy country and arrive at the postcard pretty Monachyle Mhor Hotel and Restaurant. There I’m greeted with a glass of champagne and cooked a delicious meal by Head Chef Maria Paszkowska. Then I spend the night in one of the 14 individually styled bedrooms – I’ll go for one with a free-standing bathtub, please and thank you. Ok, as I said, maybe this is a dream that’s slightly out of budget! But I would definitely love to do lunch at Monachyle Mhor this year for a very reasonable £30 for 3 courses. Perhaps I’ll even squeeze in an overnight at little sister venue the Mhor 84 Motel.

Well I think that’s a good start for dining in 2015, but I’d love to hear any restaurant recommendations you have for this year! Leave a comment below or drop me a line on


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