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Posts Tagged ‘edinburgh restaurants’

Some (slightly dark) pictures from the food geeks November dinner at Cafe Saint Honore

I cant think how to describe the night without sounding annoyingly gushing but it really was amazing. Four courses of excellent locally sourced produce, all served as communal pass around dishes and topped off with some lovely Highland Park whisky and even better food chat (and a sniff of the house sour dough starter!) . The perfect night.

I cant wait to go back, I just hope I get left alone again with the chewy bits stuck to the apple crumble dish and the last of the vanilla ice cream next time.

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I’m full of the back to work depression and too lazy to write this week but I had such a cornucopia of good cake last week, and one hell of a good lunch at Restaurant Mark Greenaway so I present you instead a dribble inducing week in pictures and urge you try out these three establishments at the earliest opportunity.

That is all.

Pear and Almond cake from Frederick’s coffee house  – great cake and a sunny spot by the window with a nosy view of the street below.

Cake overload at French fancies with the Edinburgh Cake Ladies – seriously delicious patisserie and charming owners.

And last but not least….

One seriously good lunch at Restaurant Mark Greenaway. How can the man not win Great British Menu!?

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I don’t know which I’d rather have… a wander round the goodies at a farmer’s market, or a wedge of really good cake.

The good news is I got both. I finally made it to Earthy Foods yesterday for a spot of indoor market shopping and lunch in their cafe, and since we were nearby we dropped in to Tea at 94 afterwards for a spot of cake.

These photos don’t need much explanation but if, like me, you think bliss is browsing mountainous piles of fresh veg, charcuterie, home made condiments and preserves and a deliciously stinky cheese counter (the cheese not the counter or the staff behind it I should clarify), then Earthy is worth a nose.

The market cafe downstairs serves some equally delicious lunch and some seriously good looking cakes. The only reason we chose to have our cake elsewhere was because it was a little draughty* so we started to get a bit chilly by the end of our meal but had I been in a slightly warmer jumper I would definitely have stayed for the chocolate cake. Next time… I’m on it.

So instead we rounded things up at Tea at 94 with a scone and a slice of Raspberry Cloud (a curious but tasty combination of pastry base topped with sponge cake and raspberry icing). This cosy little cafe isn’t as trendy or as busy as places like loopy lorna’s yet but personally I would rather get a seat, charming service and decent cake.

Nom nom nom…

* Earthy just advised me that their door heater is on the blink and hopefully fixed soon so don’t worry about an extra jumper if you plan to visit!

You can find Tea at 94 at 94 Buccleuch Street or on facebook or twitter.

The Earthy Foods website has all you need to know about their market shops and how to find them.

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I’ve found my new favourite seafood restaurant. We landed up in The Ship by wandering along the waterfront at Edinburgh’s shore looking for some Sunday grub and it turned out to be a lunch worth writing home about.

The setting is a a cosy little pub style restaurant with a few tables on the roadside overlooking the canal and a simple but elegantly decorated interior with white roses and candles in champagne bottles on the tables. The menu has a range of dishes that offer everything from a casual lunch to a full seafood feast in the form of the Fruits de Mer Royale.

We went for the Grilled Queen Scallops with Citrus & Tarragon Butter and the Ship’s Prawn Cocktail to start, both of which didn’t disappoint. I have only had scallops a handful of times before and never been that impressed but they were deliciously tender and full of citrussy flavour. I have to say I think I still favour mussels and oysters over scallops but these were definitely edible! The prawn cocktail was your standard baby prawns in marie rose sauce but topped with a few whole prawns in their shells. Again I think there are more delicious starter options on the menu I would try next time (like a Half Dozen Loch Creran Oysters with Parmesan Chilli Basil Crust – hello!) but if its prawn cocktail you want then this is for you.

For our main meal we followed this up with the Hoegaarden Battered Haddock with Mushy Peas & Chips and the Steak & Caramelised Red Onion Toasted Sandwich with Ship’s Chips (ship’s chips turned out to be simple chunky potato wedges in case you’re wondering). As you can tell by my sterling camera work I was enjoying my fish enough to barely remember to take a photo and not to spend much time getting a good shot which you can take as a good sign.

The fish was well cooked and light and the mushy peas were fresh and minty, unlike the khaki mush you often get in a pub where the peas have been boiled to within an inch of their sad little existence. The tiny mouthful of steak sandwich which I managed to pilfer before it disappeared, was tender and perfectly perked up by the tart red onion relish (again, too busy with my fish to waste time on the perfect picture).

Finally, crème brulee. Creamy custard, crackly sugar…nuff said.

If its not already obvious by this review, this is a great find with a  lovely atmosphere and simple, fresh seafood. I’m definitely going to make a repeat visit.

Need to get my hands on those oysters…

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There’s nothing more satisfying than an excellent food experience when you least expect to have one… I’m getting ahead of myself though. I have so much to write about the weekend that I almost  don’t know where to start.

Let’s start, as one always should, with cake.

The road to this cake started out with a speed bump or two. In fact, less speed bump, more ten car pile up. I have been dying to try out one of Nigella’s “chocolate cake hall of fame” recipes since I took ownership of her book Feast (the source of inspiration for the winter spice muffins in my last post). So when my other half expressed a cake craving I forbade him from buying anything off the shelf and promised to make him something better. I got home, only to discover I was missing key ingredients for the flour-less chocolate orange cake I had set my sites on. Given I had promised I would deliver chocolate wonders and it was howling a gale and pouring with rain outside ( yes, again), I decided to make do instead of going out again and try the honey chocolate cake for which I had all the bits and pieces.

I knew it probably wasn’t going to turn out as planned when I combined everything and it was closer to chocolate soup than cake batter. Not to be defeated though and ever trusting in Ms Lawson’s foolproof recipes, I poured it into the tin which then started to leak chocolate all over the kitchen. Still hoping to salvage it, I placed the tin on some baking paper in a roasting tray and quickly put it in the oven in the hope it would cook before the whole cake landed up in the tray.

It turns out the tray trick works but the cake batter was past hope. After 2 hours in the oven it was obvious a skewer was never going to come out without being covered in a clump of goo, never mind clean. So I admitted defeat, although we still picked off all the cakey-ish cooked bits round the edge which eaten warm, made a just-about-acceptable chocolate cake fix.

I’m not one to accept defeat but I couldnt work out what had gone wrong with the first batter so this weekend I decided to try again with the chocolate orange cake I had planned to make in the beginning. You start by boiling whole oranges for 2 hours, blitzing to a pulp and then combining with the other ingredients in a blender once cool. It couldn’t be simpler but not content with disaster number one, I managed to put the oranges on and forget about them for a few hours so that the pot boiled dry and luckily didn’t burn my new kitchen to the ground before Ross mentioned the odd burnt orange smell emanating from the stove top. Thankfully the crisis was averted (oven cleaner works wonders on burnt pots as long you clean them well afterwards by the way) and I managed to salvage the oranges and finally produce something that could be considered a proper cake – a dense, damp chocolate crumb full of sweet citrus undertones. Although according to Ross, it’s not cake if it doesn’t have any icing so I had to whip up some chocolate orange and cinnamon butter cream to top it off as Nigella’s recipe was for an unadorned version.

By the time I was finished I could only manage one slice (I still haven’t learned to heed my own health warnings about ingesting significant amounts of icing during the baking process) but according to the family guinea pigs the recipe was a success and with all the orange and cinnamon it’s suitably festive for this time of year! So if you’re looking for a very simple chocolate cake that keeps well (I’m trusting Nigella on this as this one didn’t last long enough to prove the theory) then as long as you keep an eye on the oranges, this one couldn’t be easier!

On Saturday we decided to get out of the house and go window shopping in Morningside again. Before I go any further I have to mention the Cheesemonger we discovered and the little veg shop next door. I wandered into the Cheesemonger and was immediately greeted by a serious pong and a whole hoard of cheeses from all over the world. Once I had managed to take it all in I chose a wedge of Tallegio and then, noticing my overwhelmed expression, the helpful staff reccommended I try the Prima Donna. Well lets just say there’s a sizable chunk taking up all the space in my cheese drawer. I would definitely reccommend you go past if you are in the area and ask the guys behind the counter to help you pick something new to try (IJ Mellis – check out their website for info). I plan to go back every week until I’ve worked my way along the counter from left to right. On the way out the door I stumbled across these beautiful squashes in the neighbouring convenience shop, which have already been roasted and devoured with a honey ginger pork fillet (I’ll have to post that recipe some time as well).

It was positively glacial outside so after putting our spoils in the car and a brisk walk up the road we agreed it was time to stop somewhere cozy for lunch. Most of the trendy coffee shops were packed to the rafters with shoppers who clearly had the same idea as us and we were about to press on up the road in the hope of finding something at the other end when we passed an Indian with a 5.95 lunch special and plenty of spare tables. Normally empty tables  aren’t a good sign but since we were bone cold and ravenous and it looked all snug and welcoming inside, we thought why not?

Well I wouldn’t normally have thought to have an Indian meal for a Saturday lunch but I think I’ll be making it a regular occurrence from now on, especially over the winter months. The name of the little restaurant we had landed up in was The Clay Oven and they definitely know how to cook. The lunch special consisted of a sabzi pakora starter, a handful of curry options and your choice of tea/coffee or ice cream to finish. It might not sound very out of the ordinary but the food was so delicious that it didn’t need any fancy frills or modern twists.

The onion and vegetable pakora was perfectly crunchy and spicy and perfectly balanced by their tomato ‘special’ sauce (I remembered to take a picture just in time – the poor quality is testament to the hurry I was in to get back to eating). For my main I chose the sweet and sour Pathia curry which I hadn’t tried before and can safely say is going to be my number one choice from now on whenever its on a menu (by this point photos were the last thing on my mind).  After mopping that up with a fluffy naan bread the size of my head, we waddled back out on to the street with satisfied grins and slightly rounder profiles, not to mention much warmer tummies.

 

Flour-less Chocolate Orange Cake with Butter Cream Icing

The cake recipe belongs to Nigella Lawson and the butter cream is my own concoction.

  • 1 large or 2 small, thin-skinned oranges
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 heaped tsp baking powder
  • 50g cocoa
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 50g cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Icing:

  • 250g icing sugar, sifted
  • 125g softened butter
  • 50g melted dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 an orange
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Put the whole oranges in a pan with cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 2 hours, or until soft. Drain and when cool, halve the orange and remove any big pips. Pulp everything in a food processor.

Preheat the oven to 180°C and butter and line a 20cm spring form cake tin. Add the eggs, baking powder, sugar, bicarbonate, almonds and cocoa to the orange in the processor. Run until you have a cohesive cake mixture. Pour and scrape into the cake tin and bake for 1 hour.

Cool the cake on a rack while you make the icing. Cream the sugar and butter together and mix in the melted chocolate, cinnamon and orange zest. Add the orange juice a little at a time until the icing is the right consistency.  Cut the cake in half and spread both halves with icing. Put back  together and serve!

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It’s Saturday evening and I’m just about to sit down and relax with a gin and tonic (followed by several glasses of red wine) but I thought I’d pause to write a quick post about this brilliant little cafe that we had a late lunch at today.

Being a dutiful South African I am always on the look out for anything from home, especially food. I discovered this place a while ago and I’ve since been in a few times to pick up some grub and some goodies to take away with me. The place is Zulu Lounge – a tiny, cosy little cafe on Morningside Road that serves coffees, soups, sandwiches and delicious baked treats all with a South African twist. Today’s feast was biltong (air dried beef – its like Marmite, you either love it or you hate it), feta and avocado wedged between two hunks of whole wheat bread and toasted. This may seem like an odd combination which was what I thought until I tried it the first time. It’s good, I promise.

I topped that off with a koeksister (for the non native readers that’s essentially a twisted plait of dough that’s deep fried and soaked in syrup – yes, you might as well rub it on your hips) and a Rhino. Before you phone customs and the RSPCA let me highlight this wasn’t a real one. A Rhino at the Zulu Lounge is a hot chocolate with honey and hazelnut syrup, smothered in cream and drizzled with toffee sauce – as if the koeksister wasn’t enough.

Well I waddled out of there with a happy smile on my face (and some more biltong in my handbag) so I thought I’d spread the South African love and tell you all to get your back sides in there next time you’re in Morningside and try the wildlife for yourself.

You cant miss it, its the shop covered in giraffe print…

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I am still kitchenless. This has resulted in a week of microwave meals, Chinese take aways and no culinary adventures to write about. However, I decided to write today because we had such a sumptuous feast last night that I thought the restaurant that prepared it for us deserved a mention.

Our friends are up from London for the weekend so I booked us a table at Howies so that they could have something Scottish and because I know the food is reliably good. Having said that, I chose the one on Alva Street (there are 4 in Edinburgh) which I hadn’t been to before but was most convenient for us. It had just changed its menu to a tapas style selection of small dishes which sounded interesting too.

Howies Cellar

We arrived at 7pm to an empty restaurant and a lingering smell of fresh paint (they had reopened the night before). My heart sank, thinking I had picked a dud, but the staff were very welcoming and the decor was warm and friendly so we sat down and ordered drinks. My first drink was the apple and marmalade martini special. And special it was! Also by this point the other tables had filled up around us almost like magic and the atmosphere was picking up.

Next, food. The waitress recommended we have about 3 dishes each so we ordered one of nearly everything on the menu. The first few plates arrived and I wondered whether we had ordered enough but by the time everything was on the table it looked like the banquet table in a medieval castle. And it was delicious. There were too many dishes to mention but my favourites were the sweet, smokey herrings with potato salad and the mini haggis spring rolls with pear and onion relish. My only criticism was the batter on the calamari and the stuffed mushrooms which was a bit tough and chewy but everything else was perfect.

I was enjoying the food and the company so much and we guzzled everything so quickly that I forgot to take a picture to wet your appetite but I would definitely recommend you go and have a look for yourself if you are in Edinburgh and your tummy is grumbling.

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