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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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

wpid-20140208_195914.jpg

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