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.

restaurant

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

soup close up

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

pot close up

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.

eton mess

eton mess close

espresso

espresso top

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…

engagement

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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Dumpling Heaven?

With the tagline “Edinburgh’s favourite Chinese restaurant” I was definitely excited to be asked to review Chop Chop.

First,  a bit about the history of the restaurant. Famous for jiao zi – to you and me that’s dumplings – Chop Chop was first and foremost a factory, set up around 14 years ago, to supply dumplings to Chinese supermarkets across the UK. As the name grew, so did the company’s success, with the first restaurant opening in Haymarket, Edinburgh, in 2006. I’m sure you’ll have heard Chop Chop then shot to fame on Gordon Ramsay’s The F Word and has since opened a second restaurant in Leith. That’s where we headed for our review.

Canal Leith

On a sunny day, Chop Chop’s location by the canal in Leith is great, and with being right next door to Tom Kitchin’s place, it is a buzzy part of Leith to eat out in on a Friday night. We arrived a little early so popped into Bond No. 9 for a drink before heading along to what I hoped was going to be dumpling heaven.

The restaurant itself is modest, with small, red formica tables, paper napkins and hanging Chinese lanterns, it was exactly what I expected a good chinese restaurant to look like. What I mean is that often the best Chinese restaurants are the most unassuming! At 7.30pm, tables were already filling up and we bagged a seat by the window.

Chop sticks

Instructions

For fun we ordered a Chinese wine (when in Rome and all that!) I was not expecting it to be great… and I have to admit I wouldn’t order it again, but hey ho, we were just getting properly into the theme of the evening!

Chinese wine

The front of the menu has a HUGE explanation of how the dishes work, and how much you should order depending on the price and size of plates. We were not quite sure what to choose, so we opted for the Unlimited Banquet Menu for Two. This included an incredible amount of food for £20.25 per person, with the option of re-ordering any of the selected dishes. Here’s what we got:

  • Boiled rice
  • 8 pork and coriander dumplings
  • 4 prawn dumplings
  • Cucumber salad
  • Seasoned Chicken Wings
  • Prawn crackers
  • Crispy Northern Beef
  • Crispy squid
  • Aubergines with garlic

We asked to swap the aubergines for the crispy shredded potato, but our waiter actually brought us both by accident, and I’m really glad he did. The dishes arrived as and when they were ready, so let me talk you through what was what…

First up, deliciously light and tasty prawn crackers, we tore through this bowl in no time!

Prawn crackers

The crispy shredded potato arrived along with the cucumber salad. I loved these two side dishes – lots of salt and flavour from the coriander on the crispy potatoes and the cucumber salad was really zingy and refreshing. I fancy attempting to recreate this at home!

Crispy shredded potato

Cucumber salad

And then we mixed them… even more delicious!

mixed salad

Potato and cucumber chop stick

Next up, the dumplings. Sadly these didn’t photograph too well, so you’ll just need to take my word with for when I tell you they were top notch. The steamed dumplings were stuffed full of seasoned pork and with the proper, almost sticky, soy sauce on the table they vanished from the plate quite quickly! The fried dumplings with also good, nice and big with decent amount of prawn mix inside.

Pork dumplings

Prawn dumplings

Chillies and garlic

I mentioned we were given the aubergines with garlic by mistake, and I couldn’t have been more delighted. Mr F&P doesn’t care for aubergines so I had the whole dish to myself, and they were amazing. They had a sweetness more like fried onions and were a yummy accompaniment to the dumplings.

Aubergines

Aubergine close up

Up next, the seasoned chicken wings – a lovely colour with lots of seasons. At one point I got a couple strong bites of aniseed, which was a bit too much like sambuca for me! Then the crispy squid arrived followed shortly by the sweet and sour beef dish. The squid was so crunchy it was almost like chip sticks and the batter had a kick from the chillies. At first I wasn’t sure but as my chop sticks kept reaching back over to the dish I decided I quite liked them.

Chicken wings

Crispy squid

The one and only dish I didn’t photograph was the sweet and sour beef – sorry folks! I’m not a sweet and sour fan, but Mr F&P tells me the dish was tasty, with nice lean bits of steak in a sufficiently sticky sauce.

Oh and before we finish up, call me tacky, but I love getting this sort of thing at the end of a meal…now guess what year I am…

Year of the rabbit

We simply didn’t have any room to order seconds, let alone finish some of what was on the plates in front of us so we popped our mints, wiped our little paws and asked for the bill. I must tell you at this point I was invited to review Chop Chop so the bill only included our drinks.

Whilst I loved the chance to try lots of different dishes from the Banquet menu, it was an over whelming amount of food, but I noticed most tables around us were also tucking into the Unlimited Banquet with gusto, so it’s obviously a firm favourite.

Next time I’ll order from the a la carte section and stick mainly to the dumplings and the side dishes. It would be wise to go with a larger group as well, as I’ve no doubt all of the dishes above could have been shared with a third person and that would give you the chance to sample some more options from the main menu. That said, whoever I go with had better not like aubergines because that’s one dish I don’t think I want to share.

Chop Chop Leith

76 Commercial St, Edinburgh,

EH6 6LX

0131 553 1818

 

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 🙂