Siam Restaurant & Bar, Edinburgh

An early supper a couple weeks ago took Ruth and I to Siam Restaurant & Bar, a thai place right in the heart of Edinburgh’s New Town on Howe Street. The restaurant was recently taken over and re-opened in August this year following a full kitchen refurb and a few little touches to the inside and exterior. Continue reading “Siam Restaurant & Bar, Edinburgh”

Back with the Blondes

It had been far too long since my last lunch date with these blonde bombshells.

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Reunited for a rare Friday off work, our foodie destination of choice was Rollo in Stockbridge.

The menu at Rollo is a mix of bite sized dishes, ‘bowls’ and ‘plates’ – perfect for a long, lazy lunch. We were surprised to find the place absolutely rammed on a Friday lunchtime, make sure you book.

Despite being incredibly busy, the staff were so attentive and friendly, instantly making us feel very welcome.

To start we choose a selection of bites; haggis balls with an whisky marmalade, crispy tempura prawns and deep fried aubergine pakora style bites. Each delicious plate came with a selection of yummy spreads and dips.

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We all agreed that the haggis balls were a winner. The marmalade was a nice change to chilli or HP sauce that usually accompanies them, and at our table if you blinked you would have missed them!

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The prawns were juicy and crispy, served with a delightfully bright and tasty beetroot tapenade and Asian style cucumber slices which created a lovely, light, refreshing starter.

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Sticking with the summer theme, I chose a sticky lamb salad bowl with rocket, roasted red peppers, mint and feta. The lamb was slow cooked and lean and simply melted away. The lemon dressing was full of flavour and zing.

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The other blondes around the table enjoyed a spicy, thai green chicken curry bowl and a slow cooked fillet of beef with rocket and parmesan which was cooked to perfection. The sides did not disappoint either – chunky potato fries, garlic mash (extremely moorish!) and a bowl of steamed rice to go with the curry.

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As we finished off our fizz and ordered coffee, we sat in our window seat chatting for another hour or so and put the world to rights! There was no rush to move on – an important detail when choosing a lazy lunch venue!

On Friday we were experiencing a good old Scottish summer’s day with all four seasons making an appear so we weren’t brave enough to sit outside, however if the sun is shining when you visit I reccomend making the most of the suntrap out front.

All in we were £30 each which felt reasonable for the brilliant level of service and delicious variety of dishes we enjoyed. With a move to the North side of town imminent, I am looking forward to more trips to Rollo over the summer months.

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Brunch at Montys

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A decent breakfast cafe on your doorstep is essential for good weekend living, and where better to brunch than Montys in Bruntsfield.

First thing – make sure you book, Montpeliers is always packed at the weekend, but they are great at squeezing you in if they can.

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Recently refurbished, Montpeliers is now a very lovely, bright space with a French cafe feel – lots of light wood, huge windows, wrought iron features and exposed lightbulbs. The crockery is cute and cool at the same time, and the breakfast menu is delicious.

For a really serious brunch you can choose The Fully Monty – ‘the biggest brunch in Bruntsfield’. However this time we stuck to what we know best.

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Perfectly poached eggs benedict with really crispy bacon and a good hollandaise sauce….

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And an indulgent stack of banana pancakes with butterscotch sauce and creme fraiche.

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Looks tasty right? Next time we go I’ve got my eye on the Mexican tortilla or the french toast, but that’s all for now.

Enjoy brunchers. x

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Lost in my hot chocolate

I don’t often think of going to a hotel for a singular cup of tea, but in cities like Edinburgh, the hotels have really had to up their game and are now host to some really fantastic destination restaurants and tearooms. Of course the tearooms are often full of ladies who lunch or groups of afternoon tea goers, but don’t forget you can pop in just for a cuppa as well.

We did just that at the Waldorf Astoria Caledonian Hotel at the bottom of Lothian Road. If you have not been since the refurbishment, it is well worth a visit. We headed to the Peacock Alley and were lucky to snaffle the last two armchairs available.

Back in the day this spot used to be Caledonian train station, and the Peacock Alley is actually the courtyard of the original station building. You can read a little more about the history of this glorious building here.Waldorf Astoria

Peacock alley interior 2

Mirrors

You can see some great now and then images from Lost Edinburgh, like this one:

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And the drinks were just as enjoyable as the setting.

Hot Chocolate

It might be £1 more for a hot chocolate, but enjoying the stunning interior of the Peacock Alley whilst a harpist twinkles away in the background, is worth it. Plus, it’s table service and the staff could not be more accommodating.

I know I’ll be back and not just for those lovely, complimentary buttery rounds of shortbread.

Date Night

date nightThursday nights are the best date nights. After a hectic week that’s very nearly over, there’s nothing better than sharing a bottle of chilled wine, or sipping that first G&T, and enjoying some good food and even better company.

But here’s a question for you – where would you go for date night in Edinburgh? Where would you book, or like to be taken, depending on who is reading this, for that first, all impressive date night? When match.com posed that question to Mr F&P and myself, we both knew exactly where to head…

On a warm Thursday summers evening, Stockbridge is buzzing with city dwellers enjoying the menagerie of eateries in this upmarket part of town. For us, that particular sunny Thursday night, Tom Kitchin’s new-ish gastro pub, The Scran and Scallie, was to play host to our “first date”.

Scran and Scallie outside

outside of restaurant

We decided to meet straight after work. Content with my day to night work outfit (a dress, blazer and wedges) I touched up my make-up before leaving the office and headed down the hill from town to Stockbridge.  Despite this “first date” really being four and a half brilliant years into our relationship, I can honestly say I was excited to meet Mr F&P that evening, and I soaked up all the details of the evening with a first date in mind.

The Scran and Scallie is an impressive, yet relaxed choice of restaurant for a first date. The staff are incredibly friendly and attentive, and there is warm gastro-pub look and feel to the place. At 6.30pm, with near full height windows, the restaurant is bright and inviting. Pleased to find my date already at the table, I headed on in.

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As well as bright open plan spaces there are cute little corners of the restaurant where I could quite happily relax with a glass of red wine in the winter time.

corner of restaurant

Drinks ordered and conversation flowing, we turned out attention to the menu. Tom Kitchin is known for cooking with plenty of fresh, Scottish ingredients, and also for transforming old-fashioned, and often obscure, cuts of meat. There were lots of classic, homely dishes on the menu, and “scran” really did feel like an appropriate way to describe what this menu had in store for us.

G&T

Menu

table setting

I didn’t know it at the time, but my starter dish was the star of the evening on the food front – pea soup with poached egg. Simple, stunning and scrumptious. The flavour was just as intense as the colour, and the poached egg in the middle was cooked to perfection.

Soup side view

Soup birds eye view

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Meantime Mr F&P enjoyed Pig’s Heid Pate with gribiche – a mayonnaise style cold egg sauce. He claims it was as good as my soup but I’m not convinced 😉

pigs head starter

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pate with sauce

By the time we finished our starters almost all the other tables were now full with earlier dinners, and there was a real buzz to the place. The fact I don’t recall any music playing is a good sign in my mind, the buzz was atmosphere enough. And despite having booked an early table, at no point did we feel rushed, and there was a comfortable amount of time in between our starter and main course.

On hearing the specials, there was only one choice; a whole plaice with lemon and spinach, on the bone or off. I certainly didn’t need a side to go with the plaice, and on reflection, my eyes were probably slightly bigger than my stomach, but every bite I did manage to eat was amazing.whole plaice

whole plaice with lemon wedge

plaice close up

Oh go on then, one more…

plaice on fork

Mr F&P choose equally well with the Highland BBQ brisket and chips…talk about food envy, probably not the most attractive trait to disclose on your first date. Fortunately Mr F&P knows me well enough and quickly offered me a taste… the meat quite literally melted in my mouth and the BBQ sauce was deliciously sweet and sticky.Highland BBQ brisket

BBQ brisket

chips

BBQ Brisket close up

One espresso and strawberry Eton Mess later (guess who had dessert 😮 ), our “first date” was drawing to a close. With full tummies and happy hearts we enjoyed a leisurely stroll home.

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espresso

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Had we wanted to carry on for more drinks, we would probably have stopped off at Hamiltons, just along the road. A watering hole where good drinks and a friendly crowd are guaranteed.

If you’re not yet convinced that Scran and Scallie is the perfect first date, maybe this next part will seal the deal. The following evening this happened…

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Ok, ok, you know it wasn’t really our first date, but I say who’s to argue when love is in the air!

With lots of love, from me to you…. xx

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Shaking Things Up

The Bon Vivant, Thistle Street, Edinburgh, cocktails and food 1 (2)

This week was all about cocktails in my world. Whilst one of my favourite Edinburgh haunts earned an incredible title – the best bar in the world, I spent some time honing my French Martini making skills. More on that later, first up, let me tell you about this gem of place…

The Bon Vivant on Thistle Street picked up the glittering title of Best International Restaurant Bar, at the Tales of the Cocktail 2014 Spirited Awards. I already knew, from lots of sampling of cocktails, that I was lucky to have this kooky, little bar on my doorstep, but what I did not realise is that this is the first time a Scottish bar/restaurant has scooped this impressive award.

You’ll find this stylish bar on Thistle Street, a beautiful cobbled street in itself oozing cool restaurants, bars and upmarket boutiques, bang in the middle of Edinburgh’s main shopping distinct.

On entering, to the left you have the bar, manned by some of Edinburgh’s finest bar staff, often sporting impressive beards and bow ties – these guys look like they know how to mix you a good cocktail. At the back is the dining area where the walls are covered in french inspired prints and posters, and wax candles in bottles on the tables create a cosy atmosphere. Finally in front of the bar is a collection of mismatched tables, chairs and stools – my favourite being the giant champagne cork stool.

The food offering is almost tapas style, with lots of little “bites”, “middles” and “sides” on the menu – my kind of dining. We usually go for a selection of bites to start, giving you a chance to try everything from hand dived scallops, to haggis bon bons to grilled halloumi – these are just some of the delights on the menu last time I was there.

And of course, they mix a reeealllly good cocktail! You just need to take one look at their instagram feed to see what treats they have in store for you.

It’s well worth a visit, even if it’s just so you can say you’ve been to the best bar in the world. If you can’t make it to Thistle Street, you can visit them in Stockbridge as well, and they have an excellent sister bar and restaurant in the Old Town – read my review of The Devil’s Advocate here.

Now, let me tell you all about these French Martinis! An easy peasy summer cocktail you can make at home with friends. Whilst I love a good cocktail, I’ve never actually been taught how to make one, and I was dubious my efforts would pay off. I have decided to start with a French Martini, mainly because I already had the ingredients to hand.

French Martini ingredients

Chambord and Vodka

All you need is a cocktail shaker, measuring device, Chambord, Vodka and pineapple juice. At first I followed this recipe, but it didn’t give me the bright pink colour I was after. So I adapted to this:

Serves  2 and bit for tasting…or if like me, you’re not great at cocktails yet, spilling:

30ml/2fl oz vodka
30ml/½fl oz raspberry liqueur
50ml/ pineapple juice

Now the fun part – pour all the ingredients in your cocktail shaker with ice and go for it. Just shake, shake shake, pour, and sip immediately! The result will be delicious…

Cocktail shaker

French Martinis

Cocktails

And a close up of that froth…

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A fresh raspberry or two would have finished these ice cool cocktails off perfectly. Now that I’ve mastered this one, I have a valid excuse to have some fun hunting down some proper cocktail glasses – roll on a fun summer of cocktail making.

The Magnum, Edinburgh

Magnum foodYou don’t need to search for long to come across good quality pub food in Edinburgh, and The Magnum on Albany Street has just been added to my list. Other than enjoying a summer drink a few years ago, I’ll be honest and say it has not, to date, been somewhere that’s featured on my food and drink radar. Partly because I am not local to that area of town, but also because I was not really aware of food offering. My dining partner Fordie was in the same boat.

The Magnum is split into three sections, the bar occupying two of those spaces and a third, smaller restaurant section off to the right. We were surprised to find the dining area kitted out with heavy silver cutlery and white table cloths. Despite sitting in the somewhat fancier dining area, we chose to eat from the bar menu because the burgers just looked too good to say no to! I can’t comment on the a la carte menu, but I can say the plates on offer, such as the wild guinea fowl , sounded impressive.

When Fordie and I first met we discovered a mutual love for cheese boards, and over the years we have sat and enjoyed plenty cheese and wine whilst putting the world to rights. Seeing no reason to break a delightful habit, we ordered a bottle of pinot grigio and we tucked into a baked camembert with bread and a little pot of what tasted like cranberry jam to start. It is not a dish that can be done badly, as there’s really nothing to it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not extremely tasty and quite indulgent.Baked Camembert Cheesecamembert

We both chose burgers for our main course. I went for a beef and rosemary burger, topped with cheese, crispy, streaky bacon and a lovely bbq sauce. The chips were chunky and crunchy, and the homemade slaw had a nice tang to it. Fordie’s chicken and bacon burger came in a toasted foccacia bun with a sweet chilli sauce. I think the pictures speak for themselves…

Beef and Rosemary Burger
beef and rosemary burger

close up

chicken and bacon burger
chicken and bacon burger

chicken burger close up

After such a feast we couldn’t manage any dessert, so I’ll just need to go back for that 🙂

The staff were so friendly and welcoming, and the clientèle was a real mix of post work drinkers, couples and friends enjoying the bar menu and families dining out in the restaurant area. Thanks to the location on the corner of Dublin St and Albany Street, the seats outside The Magnum will be a lovely sun-trap in the summer months.

Although this time we opted for the relaxed bar menu, I am now keen to try the more sophisticated a la carte menu. In my eyes, if you can do a good burger… I’m all yours!

The Magnum
1 Albany Street
Edinburgh
EH1 3PY,
0131 557 4366

Le Di Vin, Edinburgh

Le Di VinFor those of you have read more than a couple of my posts, you will know by now that I love the Mediterranean style of eating and drinking. In my eyes food should be social, and there’s nothing nicer than sharing dishes and taking your time over a meal.

My passion for this style of eating comes from a short time spent au-pairing in the North of Spain during my summers at university. Most Sundays the family I worked for would sit down at home with cousins and grandparents to enjoy an afternoon of grazing. From about 2pm until 5 or 6 in the evening there was a gentle flow of sharing platters brought to the table – everything from fresh clams and enormous langoustines, duck pate and melba toast, to melt in your mouth Iberico ham and creamy manchengo cheese. This style of eating in the North of Spain in called “pica”.

Le Di Vin, in the West End of Edinburgh, is somewhere that recreates this somewhat luxurious and lazy style of eating. The French wine bar on Randolph Place belongs to Virginie and Ghislain Brouard, the owners of La P’titeFolie which sits next door.

The bar occupies an impressive building, once known as the Oratory of St. Anne. Inside, the bar runs along the side of the room, showcasing what must be hundreds of bottles of wine. Above the entrance way is a quirky mural of famous Scottish and French faces, sitting in a “last supper” arrangement at either ends of the table.wall art

At 6.30pm on a Tuesday night I was pleasantly surprised to find the bar busy. The main wine list is extensive, and for those know very little about wine, like me, I’d advise asking the bar staff for a recommendation. If it’s just a glass you are after, there are also plenty options. We decided to share a bottle of Chablis, no. 25 from the wine list, which is described as a dry wine, light in colour with a touch of hazelnut.

The food offering is simple – shared platters of meats, cheeses and fish. We chose a mixed platter of charcuterie and cheeses and a platter of the garlic prawns.meat and cheese platter

Garlic PrawnsOur feast at Le Di VinOur platters, served with a mix of bread and oatcakes, were loaded with the following:

Cheese:

  • Tome de Savoie ( French alps- cow’s milk)
  • Comte
  • Brie de Maux
  • St Agur
  • Pie d’Anglois ( Creamy-soft)
  • Reblochon
  • Morbier

Meat

  • Italian Ham with Herbs
  • French Rosette (from Lyon)
  • Coppa ( Corsica)
  • Jambon de bayonne
  • Petit Saucisson des Pyrenees

And to top it off, some rillettes of Pork.

All of the above was delicious, and we took a good two hours picking our way through the platter, guessing what was what and enjoying our wine. The garlic prawns should not go without a mention, for they were perfect. Huge, juicy prawns still in their shells, with plenty garlic, salt and herbs – what’s not to like!

We left knowing it won’t be long until we are back. With summer in sight (well, almost, if you crane your neck quite far around the corner), Le Di Vin will be a great place to spend a lazy summer afternoon with a group of friends, or even just enjoy a single glass of wine, a nibble and gossip after work with girlfriends.

Le Di Vin
9 Randolph Place
Edinburgh
EH3 7TE

0131 538 1815

 

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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Afternoon Tea at The Balmoral, Edinburgh

Ladies who lunch! The Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh
Ladies who lunch! The Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh

Using vouchers she got for Christmas, my Gran recently treated my Mum and me to afternoon tea at The Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh. The Balmoral is instantly recognisable with its dramatic stonework and talk clock tower. It sits on the corner of Princes Street and North Bridge with a fantastic 360 view on Edinburgh, talking in everything from Calton Hill to Princes Street gardens, up to the castle and over the bridges to the old town. It’s a haven for tourists visiting Edinburgh. The grandeur of the hotel gives a fantastic first impression of the history of our capital city.

Palm CourtSoup starter

Afternoon tea is served in the impressive Palm Court. Once our drinks (Bollinger champagne, we were after all ladies who lunch) and tea (earl grey all round) orders had been taken, we were offered a taste of pear and apple soup to start. The soup was delicious and not something I have been offered with afternoon tea before.

The first tier arrived and we tucked in. A cheese twist on top, crusty bread with coronation chicken and a ham wrap on the second plate and cucumber, smoked salmon and egg mayonnaise fingers on the bottom. All were delicious, and I particularly enjoyed the coronation chicken – a favourite with the tourists I imagine!

The sweet tiers did not disappoint either. A plum and ginger compote on the top plate got my vote, and we also enjoyed little lemon tarts with the Palm Court emblem printed on them – a nice touch. A walnut and chocolate brownie along with Scottish jams and freshly baked scones completed the sweet tiers. On leaving we were given Palm Court tea leaves and I look forward to trying these at home.

Savoury tiersweet tier

Champagne afternoon tea at the Balmoral comes in at £42 per person, or £27 without fizz. It’s more expensive than other afternoon teas in Edinburgh, of which there are many, and I reckon you are paying for the location and ambience more than anything else. The palm court is a stunning setting and throughout the afternoon it felt like a special occasion.

Other places I can vouch for if you are looking for afternoon tea in Edinburgh include The George Hotel and Eteaket, both very central, or Missoni Hotel over in the old town. On my list to visit for afternoon tea in Edinburgh is Mimis Bakehouse and The Sheraton, both of which I have heard are lovely.

lemon tartBalmoral Brew20140309_172945