Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 Mop Up

2012 has been a super busy year for us, it has unfortunately been mostly work, but we've thankfully managed to squeeze in some eating and  travel along the way as well.  Not as much of this as I'd originally hoped has found its way on to this blog for various reasons (couldn't remember enough about it, not worth the bother, bad photos (yes, even more so than usual!) etc.) but rather than just forget about them, here's a mop-up of some of the various meals and travels of 2012 that didn't quite make it.

There were lots and lots and lots of Indian meals (and takeaways) throughout 2012; some good, some mediocre. To mention but a couple - Assams in Glasgow was ok, but not a patch on the meal we'd had at Mother India the week before.  Kasturi - a local of ours - does a brilliantly priced lunch, unusually on a Saturday too.

Astoundingly good value early evening dinner at La Garrigue in Leith.

Lovely but not particularly exciting Malaysian at Nanyang in the eerily quiet Quartermile.

The other side of town to us, and so a rare but treasured visit to the legendary Tail End chippy on Leith Walk.

There were a few visits to Cafe Fish - all enjoyable, all drunken.

A disappointing lunch at Wedgwood.

Of all the holidays we've had this year, surprisingly only Iceland was worth posting about.  Otherwise, there was more 'mixed fish' in Andalucia than I care to remember.

And lots and lots of very good (and unbelievably cheap) wood fired pizzas in Krakow, when we just couldn't bear to look at another chunk of meat or dumpling.

A truly disappointing dinner at Galvins Brasserie.

And finally, one I really have no excuse for not writing up, a fantastic meal watching the end of festival fireworks from the perfectly positioned Heights at the Apex Hotel in the Grassmarket.

So there we have it, a mop up of the majority of the stragglers from 2012.  This is probably the point that I should say I'm going to make a New Year's resolution to do better next year, blah blah, but let's just wait and see what happens.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles

I was delighted this week to see Andrew Fairlie top the Sunday Times list of the 100 best eateries in Great Britain.  It seemed as good a reason as any to dig out these pictures from a couple of years back, and share with you an utterly stunning and very special meal.  

Amuse No. 1
Amuses No. 2
Pressed Mallard & Confit Fois Gras, Jerusalem Artichoke & Pickled Barley
Sauteed Scallops & Sea Vegetables, Oyster Veloute
Caramelised Veal Sweetbread, Braised Swiss Chard, Wild Mushrooms
Tortellini of Beetroot & Squash, Parmesan Cream, Sage Butter

Roast Fillet of Pollack, Iberico Ham & Hazelnuts
Duo of Old Spot Pork, Apples & Burnt Onion
Coconut Pre-Dessert
Chestnut & Rosehip
Hot Chocolate Mousse
Petit Fours

Friday, 12 October 2012

Larder Bistro

Some of you will already know that I’m always on the look out for an in-law friendly dining experience in our local area, and so I was delighted when we spotted the Larder Bistro on Alva Street, where once stood Howies.  I’d never been a fan of Howies (sorry!) so it was great to see something on that plot with more potential.  I hadn’t seen any reviews of it at that point, but subsequent reading confirmed that we should definitely give it a go.

I’m not too familiar with the Larder brand, as the deli/cafĂ© isn’t located in a usual haunt.  So it was a pleasant surprise to see the Bistro’s menu packed full of locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, which I now know is the cornerstone of their business model.

To start, a couple of perfectly pert Mackerel fillets were accompanied by one of my favourite things of all time - a fresh cucumber pickle.  There was absolutely nothing to grumble about here; a simple but well executed dish where the freshness of the ingredients were allowed to shine. 
The Arran mustard cured salmon benefited from similar treatment and was thoroughly enjoyed.  But if anything it was the homemade oatcakes that got us talking; they were stunning.  Even the more seasoned oatcake eaters amongst us agreed they were probably the best oatcakes ever had (anyone know if you can buy them in the deli?).
I can be a bit funny about fruit in savoury dishes but pigeon and damsons worked fantastically well, with braised red cabbage rounding off the earthy trio.

Poached trout with buttermilk and chive mash, chive butter sauce and sea vegetables was never going to move the earth, but that’s not a bad thing (see criteria below).  Importantly it was tasty and comforting and well cooked.  Mind you, that crispy skin was something pretty special.

On to desserts, and while my other half declared he wouldn’t order it in a million years (seems he’s got a thing against pears) I’m glad I took the plunge with the pear & hazelnut cake with poached pear and yoghurt sorbet.  Not only did I get to eat it all to myself, but the pear and hazelnut cake was a masterful light and fluffy bake with great flavours that were complemented well by the slightly zingy sorbet.
We were told that the dark chocolate slice with crystallised seeds and stout ice cream used to come in an even heftier slab size, but they found that people couldn’t finish it.  Our diners certainly had no problem, although they did affirm it packed a seriously dense chocolate hit.

I don’t think I’ve set it out on paper before, but just so you know, our general criteria for pleasing the in-laws when dining out is that the food should be keenly priced, tasty, satisfying and not overly adventurous or complex.  The restaurant should be comfortable and simple but stylish.  The service should be relaxed and attentive but not overbearing.  Whether or not that’s what Larder Bistro is aiming for, it ticked all of those boxes.  Oh, and we rather liked it too.  Win.