5 new restaurants to try this autumn

Don’t think about hibernating for the autumn/winter months just yet! From swanky, 7 course tasting menus to places to grab a relaxed meal after a long day at work, these eateries are all worthy of a visit. Read on and discover 5 new restaurants to try this autumn. Continue reading “5 new restaurants to try this autumn”

The Devil’s Advocate, Edinburgh

When I heard the guys at Bon Vivant on Thistle Street in Edinburgh were opening a third restaurant in the old town I knew I had to check it out.

Looking up Advocates Close
Looking up Advocates Close

Unless you were lost, I’m not sure you would ever “stumble across” The Devil’s Advocate. The bar and restaurant is tucked away on Advocate’s Close, just off the Royal Mile, and this location gives it a selective vibe, like you had to be in the know to go there.

From the old town close, heavy and clean cut wooden doors with large glass panels give way to a very open downstairs bar space. Against the opposing wall and behind the bar there are rows upon rows of bottles, some I recognise, but most I do not – lots of bourbons and whiskys. To the left is a mezzanine level with tables.

On arrival we get a drink at the bar, I’m on a glass of prosecco and my other half enjoys a whisky old fashioned. The dining area upstairs is softly lit. Candles on tables and low ceiling beans make for a cosy space and the Friday post work hubbub from the bar downstairs creates a nice buzz as we turn our attention to the menu.

For starters I go for Haggis bon bons with coriander, cumin and chilli sauce and my other half tucks in to smoked haddock, leek and pear barley risotto. The haggis is full of flavour and the sauce adds a nice kick.

RissottoHaggis Bon BonsFor my main course I ordered the fish and chips – ceilidh battered pollock with shrimp tartar and chips. Is it just me or is shrimp becoming a popular side dish? I feel like I’m seeing it on a lot of menus, however, I’m not complaining as it was a great accompaniment. The pollock was nice and juicy and the batter was crispy and light. I must admit I was quite jealous of the lamb rump on haggis mash that my other half was tucking in to. The lamb was nicely pink in the middle. My other half thought there was a bit too much haggis in the mash, but he enjoyed the dish nonetheless. I loved the little roasted shallots and the accompanying jus was really rich and silky.

Fish and chipsRump of LambWe tried a bottle of red wine, one which we had not drank before, and knew nothing about! As it was a Beaujolais we thought it would be quite light (I’m not a huge lover of “gritty” red wines), but this was not the case. Note to self, ask the staff, I’m sure they would have told us that!

ice creamAs always, my other half enjoyed his trademark dessert, a single scoop of vanilla ice cream. The ice cream was deliciously creamy – you can imagine he greatly appreciates the quality of vanilla ice cream when there is nothing else on the plate to make a fuss about.

By the time we finished, all the tables upstairs and the bar downstairs were packed – the weekend in full swing.

I must admit my pictures on this post do not do the food justice, and make want to look into a proper camera for future blogging exploits…

Dinner for two, with a bottle of wine and a couple pre-dinner drinks came to about £70. Much like Bon Viviant, I can see The Devil’s Advocate will be a great go-to place for a relaxed meal out. It’s another example of why I love Edinburgh in comparison to huge cities like London – good quality food and drink are plentiful and can be found at reasonable prices. I should also add that for whisky lovers this is the place to go as the whisky list is extensive.

The Devils Advocate
9 Advocate’s Close
Edinburgh
EH1 1ND

0131 225 4465

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The Stockbridge Restaurant, Edinburgh

The Stockbridge Restaurant is one of the many eateries nestled away on St Stephens Street in Edinburgh. Not far from the new Scran & Scallie, across the street from Purslane, this family run restaurant certainly has competition. I should mention that St Stephens Street used to be home to one of my favourite restaurants in Edinburgh, The Saint. That space is now home to a great cocktail bar called The Last Word, but there remains a food shaped hole in my heart when it comes to eating out in Stockbridge. For this reason I was very intrigued to see what The Stockbridge Restaurant had to offer.

Interior

Fairy lights guide you down the stone stairs and into a cute and cosy restaurant. The welcome from the waiting staff is very friendly and on a Thursday evening my dining partner Cakes (a nickname I will explain sometime) and I are told we can choose any table we fancy. The room is intimate, with perhaps 12 or so white covered table tops, substantial covered chairs and chunky, heavy silverware. Immediately I think we are in for a fine dining experience.

Before we get started on our menu choices we enjoy an assortment of warm breads, walnut bread being the one that stuck out for me. The breads are served with a lovely herby dip – I am keen to find out what’s in that. Then appetisers arrived – little dishes with fresh tomato & Serrano ham, nothing complicated and very delicious

Breads

Tomato and serrano ham

To start I enjoyed pigeon with pork belly, black pudding, celeriac puree and port wine sauce. The pigeon was tender and the cubes of black pudding were moist and there was just enough. The little rectangle of crispy, perfectly pressed pork belly was a joy! Cakes tucked into the crab cakes which were packed full of crab meat and flavour. They came with a fresh, zingy tomato salsa and avocado puree.

Spiced pigeon breast, black pudding, pork belly, celeriac mash
Pigeon with pork belly, black pudding, celeriac puree and port wine sauce

close up of main

crab cakes
Crab cakes with tomato salsa, avocado puree and aioli

At this point we paused; topped up our wine glasses (we were drinking a Sauvignon Blanc from Chile) and both admitted to really looking forward to the main course.

Coley was our unanimous choice. On the menu said it “served with pancetta, a fried quail egg, sautéed potatoes and a mustard sauce”. I was pleasantly surprised to find a whole crispy strip of bacon with the dish! The fish was light and full of moisture, the fried egg had yummy, runny yolk and the mustard sauce went well with the saltiness of the dish.

Coley
Coley

close up 2

Following the main, a passionate fruit sorbet was served as a palette cleanser, and for me chocolate heaven followed. Chocolate crème brulee served with milk chocolate ice cream, a chocolate and walnut brownie and white chocolate mousse. I could take or leave the milk chocolate ice cream, the crème brulee was good. Put simply, it tasted like melted terry’s chocolate orange, I could have had 5 shot glasses of the stuff. However we both decided that Cakes’ dessert was the star of the show – banana tarte tartin with a butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream. Not a dish I had tried before, and one I am desperate to have again. The pastry was so light and fluffy it melted in the mouth and the caramelised bananas were sweet and tangy. Oh and the sauce, the sauce was to die for!

Chocolate
Crème brulee served with milk chocolate ice cream, a chocolate and walnut brownie and white chocolate mousse
banana
Banana tarte tartin with a butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream

Banana tarte tartin

Needless to say we rolled home happy and full. The food alone was fantastic, and the attention to detail along with the little extra touches made the evening very special, but in no way pretentious. What’s more, the prices for such a delightful dining experience are incredible. The set menu, which includes all of the above minus the banana dessert, runs Sunday – Thursday and is only 2 courses for £19.95 or 3 courses for £23.95. You can read the A La Carte menu here – I think it’s worth every penny.

It makes me slightly sad to think I have lived in Edinburgh for almost five years and I am only just finding out about this hidden gem… but I am delighted to say the food shaped hole in my heart has officially been filled. Roll on another dinner out in Stockibridge!

STEAK Edinburgh

Steak Edinburgh at No.12 Picardy Place
Steak Edinburgh at No.12 Picardy Place

I am a big fan of Sunday lunch, and on a windy, rainy, Edinburgh day I can think of few things better than sitting down to a tasty, three course feast. As luck would have it, it was a east coast day just like that when I ventured to Steak, the restaurant belonging to No. 12 Picardy Place at the top of Leith Walk.

The restaurant is headed up by Chef Jason Wight and does exactly what it says on the tin. Their tagline, “where beauty meets the beast” is quite true. On entering you are given a glimpse of the quirky, boutique style hotel at Picardy Place, and at the end of a dark, luxurious entrance hall you find Steak. The restaurant space is dramatic to say the least – a large, completely open hall, finished with beautiful traditional cornicing. Stylish cast iron rods are suspended mid air by chunky ropes and these fill the vast space above the tables to the high ceiling.

Interior at Steak

On the wall as you go in there is a chalk board with a detailed drawing of “the beast”, explaining exactly where all the different cuts of meat come from on the animal. Some people will love this, others will hate it, but I thought it was quirky and if I’m honest, helpful!

Steak Board

The lunch menu is, quite frankly, amazing value for money. Two courses for £9.95, an additional £3.50 for a glass of house white or red, and a desert for £3.50 on top of that. And just wait till you hear what was on the menu…

After ordering we were offered warm rye, soda or cheese and bacon bread – the third one there was moorishly tasty. To start I enjoyed an apple and walnut salad with blue cheese whilst my other half (that’s other, not better :D) had the chicken and leek terrine. The salad was delicious, little shavings of apple and these lovely pieces of caramelised walnuts, both of which worked really well with the blue cheese. I am told the terrine was “a solid choice”.

Apple and walnut salad with blue cheese
Apple and walnut salad with blue cheese
Chicken and Leek Terrine
Chicken and Leek Terrine

On to the main course, and the star of the show – rump steak frites with béarnaise sauce. I like mine cooked medium, and my other half medium rare. Both were cooked to perfection. The steaks had a lovely charred finish and mine was perfectly pink in the middle, the juices from the meat spilled out onto the plate as I cut into it. The béarnaise sauce was not as garlicky as I expected, but tasty all the same. Alongside the crispy chips I tried a side of the parsnip macaroni cheese. In my mind steak and macaroni cheese is a brilliant combination and I never pass up the opportunity to have it. My other half added a surf and turf element to his main by trying the side of cauliflower and shrimp. This was not a combination I’ve thought of before, but I can assure you it went down a treat and will be replicated soon as home I’m sure!

Steak frite with a bearnaise sauce
Steak frites with a bearnaise sauce
Shirmp and cauliflower & parsnip macaroni cheese
Shirmp and cauliflower & parsnip macaroni cheese

We probably didn’t need anything else but decided to go for it anyway. I tucked into a peanut butter smore with hot chocolate sauce (*admission* I chose this one from the a la carte menu, the lunch menu included peach cobbler). You’ve got to have a sweet tooth to enjoy this dessert, and for chocolate lovers like me it was fantastic. The marshmallow in the middle honestly tasted like it had been toasted over an open fire, and the hot chocolate sauce was delicious with the cold peanut butter filling.

Peanut butter smore with hot chocolate sauce
Peanut butter smore with hot chocolate sauce

All in all, quite a delicious experience. Once you add on a couple sides, desert and a glass of wine, the bill comes in at about £20 a head.

**AMENDED POST**

I had originally thought this fab lunch deal was only available from 12.-12.30pm, and that was my only niggle, but I must need my eyes tested as you can enjoy this offer right up until 2.30pm! Apologies Steak for misreading the menu, but JOY to all other steak goers – two more hours of foodie delight 🙂

The latest place to steal my hart

The Lockhart on Seymour Street, Marylebone
The Lockhart on Seymour Street, Marylebone

I am *so* excited to tell you about this next place. Apologies in advance for a rather gushy blog post, but I hope after reading you will understand why The Lockhart in London is the latest place to win my tastebuds over!

The Lockhart is tucked away behind the hustle and bustle of London’s Oxford Street, and can be found precisely on Seymour Place, Marylebone. The Head Chef, Brad McDonald, was born in Mississippi so The Lockhart rightfully describes itself as a “Southern US restaurant” – I was expecting plenty of comfort food. From the outside, on a dark and windy night, the pale green and white exterior with simplistic lettering looks cool yet inviting. Myself and four friends bundled in, and at 7.30pm on a Saturday evening we were some of the first diners to take up residence for the night. We were greeted with the warm Scottish welcome we are accustomed to, and also one that we have missed a lot, since our friend Charlie, now helping to run a tight ship at The Lockhart, used to belong to our city, Edinburgh!

Charlie

Coats off and we were led downstairs to the bar area where Charlie mixes us up our cocktails of choice. The boys tucked into an Old Fashioned and one of our party enjoyed her first authentic mocktail. Having persevered with overly sweet and sub-standard mocktails throughout her pregnancy, my friend was relieved to be drinking a virgin Cosmo that really tasted like one. I stuck to prosecco and enjoyed a crisp and bubbly glass from the state of New York.

Back upstairs, the restaurant floor was filling up so we took our seats. As there were five of us it was recommended that we try a little bit of everything. The first pleasant surprise was the tapas style menu – not what sprung to mind when thinking about Southern American cooking. It worked perfectly and I really recommend going with a crowd to make the most of this style of eating.

I won’t talk you through every item on the menu (you can just look at my pics for that!) but I will tell you a little more about some of my

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favourite dishes. A must have is the cornbread – it was my first time eating it and hopefully not my last. The loaf is baked in a cast iron tray and coated in some sort of buttery, honey glaze. For me, it’s the stuff dreams are made of, and hits the nail on the head for typical southern american comfort food. You just need one bite to know it’s not going to be good for you, but it would be the worst thing you could do that day not to finish it.

Buttermilk wedge salad with bacon and chopped egg
Buttermilk wedge salad with bacon and chopped egg

The simplicity of this next dish won me over – a big wedge of iceberg lettuce, some chopped bacon and boiled egg. Doesn’t sound very interesting but the chefs home-made buttermilk ranch style dressing truly made this dish. Creamy, sharp and silky. Next up, we sampled some of the fried chicken – another dish The Lockhart nails. The batter is light and crispy and a fantastic golden colour. The word is this dish flies off the menu so I’d advise, if you’re not too late a diner, getting your order in sharpish!

Crunchy and golden deep fried chicken
Crunchy and golden deep fried chicken

Believe it or not these dishes are only the beginning. The mains, or entrees as they are called on the menu are, again, outstanding. I didn’t think I would enjoy the shirmp and grits, however not only was it fun to try but the grits were lovely and creamy and made for a gorgeous base to the prawns surrounded by wild mushrooms and, of course, bacon.

Smoked ribs cooked to perfection
Smoked ribs cooked to perfection

The ribs, Charlie tells us, are smoked each day at 5pm, to the extent that the whole place is enveloped by smoke and all the windows and doors need opened – now that’s exactly how I imagine a real southern american smoked rack of ribs to be cooked. The boys at our table were not disappointed, pink and cooked to perfect the meat fell off the bone.

From an aesthetic point of view, the stuffed quail takes the biscuit.We are presented with a whole, roasted quail, on a bed of iceberg lettuce. Cutting into the quail and allowing the under layer of “dirty” rice (cooked in chicken liver for colour) to explode onto the plate was quite amazing.

Stuffed Quail
Stuffed Quail

For dessert I delved into hot sugar doughnuts with a delicious dark chocolate sauce, perhaps with brandy, or something similar to give it a kick. Light, fluffy, dreamy! My photos do not do this dish justice. My friends tried the de-constructed lemon meringue pie and I gathered from the “mmm”s going around the table it was also a hit. Coffees and after dinner drinks followed, during which we continued to dissect each dish and rave about our favourite plates. At closing time we tumbled home in a cosy food coma.

There is no faffing around at The Lockhart. For many dishes, like the fried chicken and the ribs, there is nothing to hide behind. No fancy salads, foaming sauces or distracting sides, just bloody good food. Plus, I’m not the only one who raves about this gem of a restaurant. During the past two weeks food reviews have been flooding in from The Independent and The Gaurdian to name but a few, so if you don’t take my word for it, take theirs.

Shirmp & grits
Shirmp & grits
Lemon Meringue Pie
Lemon Meringue Pie
Tokyo turnips and country  ham salad
Tokyo turnips and country ham salad
Southern US tapas style dining at The Lockhart
Southern US tapas style dining at The Lockhart
Sugar doughnuts with a dark chocolate sauce
Sugar doughnuts with a dark chocolate sauce

The Honours, Edinburgh

GalleryOn Friday evening I was treated to dinner at The Honours, one of Martin Wishart’s restaurants in Edinburgh. Located on North Castle Street, there are plenty of nearby options for pre dinner drinks, and we decided to go to Tonic, a cocktail bar a few doors along from The Honours.

Some of the cocktails on the menu
Some of the cocktails on the menu

Take a peek online at their cocktail menu, I think you’ll like it as there are lots of fun combinations to try. On this occassion I opted for a Rasberry Kiss. Made up of tanquery gin, grapefruit, homemade rasberry syrup topped with prosecco, it was yummy! The Haribo lips sweetie on top, is a good reflection on the sweetness of the drink!

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Raspberry Kiss – tanquery gin, grapefruit, homemade raspberry syrup and prosecco

After a couple drinks I only had to totter a few steps down the hill in my heels to arrive at The Honours. Unfortunately I don’t have any of my own pictures of the meal, so hopefully we descriptions will do the dishes justice! You can take a look at the menu online here, and I’ll try and talk you through the yumminess!

To start I opted for the crab cappuccino, and I’ll admit I was not quite sure what the expect. I was greeted with frothy and intense crab soup. It came in a large shallow bowl and had lovely pieces of soft crab and garlic through it. I’m a huge garlic fan, the more the better, so this was right up my street. The size of the dish was deceiving and due to the richness of the cream based soup I wasn’t able to finish it which is extremely unlike me!

For my main course I enjoyed the fillet steak, which the waitress informed me was cooked on the bone. A technique,  she told us, used to hold in the flavour and juices from the meat when cooking. I had never tried fillet on the bone before, so that was quite exciting. The steaks are are served with vine tomatoes and choice of sauces, I went for a bearnaise sauce and ordered a side of potato dauphinoise (see, garlic again!) and shared some green beans. The steak was cooked to perfection – I like it medium and it melted in my mouth. Absolutely delicious and totally worth the special occasion price tag (£32).

Dinner was washed down with a bottle of Fleurie. This wine, in my opinion, (and I have to say I’m no wine expert, at all) is a really light red wine – perfect for those who are eating red meat but aren’t wild about red wine!

The dessert menu was extensive, and after two very filling courses all I could manage was a scoop of passion fruit sorbet. All the ice creams and sorbets on the menu are offers as a whole dish or simply a single scoop. A really nice touch for those who aren’t quite finished but can’t manage a whole dessert.

After coffees and a desert wine we decided to call it a night. I mentioned that our trip to The Honours was a treat, and I’d love to say I’ll be back in a flash, but the prices simply don’t allow for that. However at the end of the day we were looking for a special evening we would remember, and that was exactly what The Honours gave us. So, thank you!

Bonsai Bar Bistro

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Bonsai is one of my favourite places for sushi in Edinburgh. I’ll be honest and say I haven’t been to Japan so I’ve no idea how authentic the sushi is… so my only tool with which to judge is a comparison to other sushi restaurants in the UK! Anyways, after a trip to the Broughton Street Bonsai this past week, here are a few dishes I recommend.

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Rainbow Gaijin-zushi, large inside out sushi rolls. We went for rainbow rolls which have salmon, tuna and cucumber. Dragon rolls with prawn tempura and avocado are also yummy. The smaller rolls are maki-zushi, traditional sushi rolls filled with spicy tuna. These had a real kick so only try these if you like a bit of spice.
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These are called teppanyaki gyoza – little dumplings cooked on a traditional Japanese griddle. These are filled with pork and come with a soy and chilli dip. You and go for vegetarian options but I think pork dumplings win every time.
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I can’t enjoy sushi without some tempura and edamame.  The prawn tempura at Bonsai is always really light and crispy, and really juicy, large prawns to boot.
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Finally a little side of fried noodles completes the meal. Plenty ginger, spice and soy in those, and good practice for the chop sticks 🙂

Sushi can seem an expensive option for eating out. These five dishes and a bottle of wine between two came in at £25pp and I’d happily say the volume of food was equivalent to a starter and a main course. My sushi appetite is probably quite safe, but its all yummy nonetheless!

I am always keen to investigate new sushi haunts and of course keen to learn of the more authentic places in town from those in the know. If you can recommend anywhere please do leave a comment or tweet me your thoughts.