Blondes have more fun!

I love planning. I love organising my diary, I like to know exactly what’s happening and where I’m going when. If I say “see you later” I’ve probably already got a good idea in my head of when that’s likely to be. So this past weekend was one I had been looking forward to for weeks, marked in the diary, the whole Saturday and Sunday blocked out, with absolutely no chance of anything getting in my way. The catch up with my fellow blondes, my journo girls, had arrived.

Location this time around was Glasgow, so two of us set off from Edinburgh to join the 3rd amiga. A minor exploding tyre incident on the M8 west involving two policemen and new 4 car tyres delayed our arrival somewhat, but once we got there we set about doing what we’ve always done when we are together – chatting, eating and drinking!

Our hostess with the mostess had the kettle on and we found these little treats in our room! I was already keen to come back!

Rooms

Having lived in Glasgow’s West End for four years, I am no stranger to the awesome menagerie of foodie options the city has to offer, but on this visit time I ended up trying out not one, but two new restaurants. After welcome cups of tea, we turned to some fizz and nibbles and got ready to head out.

journo fizz

I love this idea of using cute china tea cups as dishes for nibbles.

Nibbles in teacups

For dinner we headed to the new Ox and Finch in Finnieston, at the west end of Argyle Street. When I lived in Glasgow a few years ago, this part of town was had started to get going, and The Crabshakk was the first of the new up-and-coming restaurants that I can remember to take up residence in this surprising part of town. Now Finnieston is FULL of great places to eat and drink.

Ox and Finch interior

Ox and Finch interior 2

The Ox and Finch describes itself as relaxed contemporary dinning, and the menu doesn’t distinguish between starter and mains. It is a smorgasbord of sharing plates, and for three foodies like us, this style of dining is perfect. We order a bottle of wine and start to rank the menu from must -have-my-mouth-is-watering dishes to if-we-have-room close seconds.

Menu

On ordering we are told that the dishes simply arrive when they are ready, unless we specify otherwise. We kick off with some light and crispy fried squid – a freebie due to a mistake in the kitchen, not a mistake that bothered us!

Fried squid

From then the dishes arrived at a steady pace. The beetroot cured gravadlax had us all in awe of the fun, bright colour, and for an extra £3 came with a shot of cucumber vodka. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it! It was really refreshing and more like a cucumber juice than a shot of vodka. The tomato and mozzarella salad was light and creamy, so for a cheese that doesn’t often taste of much, they had done well.

Beetroot cured salmon 1

Salmon close up

Cucumber vodka

Tomato and moz salad

From the seafood selection we chose the scallops which were big and juicy and came on a bed of cauliflower purée. They went very nicely with the side of asparagus with a poached egg and pancetta – this dish hit the spot with us all.

Scallops

Asparagus poached egg and pancetta

The star of the evening was the hanger steak. It was perfectly cooked, still really pink, and just melted in your mouth. On top were the yummiest, thinnest, lightest onion rings I’ve seen in ages. So delicious.

Hanger steak

The lamb meatballs were ok, but we all agreed nothing to write home about.

Lamb meatballs

And we just couldn’t resist getting some creamy dauphinoise potatoes…

potatoes

dishes on table

Room for desert? Probably not, but after a little break we decided to share the dark chocolate cremeux, which came with popcorn (nice gimmick) peanuts and banana ice-cream. I could have done with the chocolate tasting a little darker and stronger, but the banana ice cream was great. By this point we had spent so long grazing our way through the menu the sun had set and so the light is not very good in the pudding picture!

Pudding

Coffees followed and we moved on to a tapas bar called Rioja for another drink. Some more nattering and and after having put the world to rights and we were finally ready to call it a night. All of the above, a bottle of sauvignon blanc and two coffees came to £27 per person. We all agreed this was a really reasonable price for a yummy evening of eating.

On to our next foodie adventure – Sunday brunch at The Central Market in the Merchant City. We walked in and I knew this place was for me – Veuve Clicquot bottles lined the bar and an Oyster bar sat in the middle. Girls, you can just leave me here…

The Central Market

The Central Market 2

An afternoon at the shops beckoned, so we needed to fuel up! French toast and bacon with maple syrup featured, as did scrambled eggs and bacon on toast. A side of chips and a pain au chocolate between us all was probably a step to far, but we did have a lot of shops to get round.

French toast and maple syrup

Scrambled eggs and bacon

Pain au chocolat

Fries

After a good few hours of retail therapy, our chatter had not yet run out but unfortunately the weekend had, and it was time to say goodbye. Great girlfriends are the ones you can just pick up with where you left off after months of not being together, and I’m so lucky to have found that in my journo girls.

All that’s left now is to get another date in the diary, and er, maybe go for a run once the food coma has passed!

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 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!

wpid-IMG_20140131_194725.jpg
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!