I felt like Bridget Jones as we made our merry way to Scotland. A mini-break. My first one! I’ll let you into a little secret, even though I’ve travelled across the world, I’ve never actually crossed the English borders and explored other countries in the United Kingdom. So here’s a little review of a few places we ate whilst in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. Please excuse the crappy nature of some of the photos, we took them on our phones.
Chop Chop, Edinburgh Haymarket
I remembered hearing about this place, but for what I couldn’t remember, except that I knew it did dumplings. I can’t actually go anywhere without sampling the local asian food! We struggled to get a table, going to check out the place at 6pm, they managed to squeeze us in at 8:45pm luckily. With such a booked up restaurant, we felt this place must be good.
We ordered some chilli beef dumplings and some pork and prawn ones too, along with some crispy northern lamb and some chicken chow mein. Sadly the dumplings failed to impress me at all. They were ok, don’t get me wrong. But for somewhere that’s won awards for these dumplings…I don’t know, obviously the judges have never visited Chinatown in London. The noodles were also a tad slimy, overpowered by garlic and the ginger hadn’t been chopped finely enough so I bit into slices of ginger and getting a mouthful of that too.
The one redeeming dish that we had was the crispy northern lamb. It had a wonderfully crispy bubbly texture to the outside with a nice sauce. I’d go back for that dish, definitely.
After asking on Twitter today, I discovered it was actually @nonsensepipe and his review was pretty much the same opinion as me. You can read his review of Chop Chop on How not to do a food blog.
The one good thing is that I procured a copy of Foodies magazine. I really wish we could have a Foodies Magazine for Leeds. Maybe if I cross my fingers and wish really hard…
The Black Medicine Coffee Co., Nicholson Street
I kept spying this on the way to into the city centre on the bus – it looks good even from the outside. When we walked in, it was lovely. Beautiful food and drink, not expensive. There was a man (I think it’s the owner) who’s like a seriously cool Jack Sparrow spinning plates up in the air. I ordered a delicious vegetable soup and Chris had a “black forest” panini – it had ham and pesto and lots of other stuff we can’t remember in it. Our lunch came to around £10, considering we were ripped off in some bloody awful pasta place the day before when we were thinking with our stomachs and not our brains, it was a total boon.
If you want somewhere that has free wifi or a good place to sit down and chat with friends that isn’t a one of “those” chain coffee shops, I fully recommend you to go here.
The Tower Restaurant
We were determined we would eat someone completely upmarket for one night of our stay. My wonderful boyfriend had secretly been trying to get us in the Michelin starred Kitchin but it has a three month waiting list. We also tried to get into The Witchery but at short notice the only time we could get was 11pm. Instead we opted for The Tower. The restaurant is above the Museum of Scotland. We were a little disappointed there wasn’t a better view of the city, but the wall on the terrace is just a little bit too high. The interior is gorgeous though, really cool retro style seating without being over the top or pretentious (despite having £1800 bottles of wine on the menu).
I made a mistake with my starter. The problem is Chris and I always want the same thing and he hates that. He ordered the Isle of Mull Crab with spicy prawn toast and sesame dressing for starter and I ordered a duck egg with cornichons (miniature gherkins), crème fraiche with avruga caviar. Chris’ starter tasted amazing. Mine was good, but I expected the duck egg to be poached and warm if I’m paying £9 for a starter. It’d been boiled and sliced with one of those egg slicers I like to use for putting egg in salads. Maybe poached egg doesn’t go with caviar?
Never mind though, the main was superb. I ordered guinea fowl with bacon, kale and a creamy white onion sauce. The guinea fowl was pan fried and crispy on the top. It came on a bed of what I think was barley mixed with bacon pieces and tomato. I’m not sure, and I didn’t want to ask, but it tasted exquisite.
Chris had a Scotch rack of lamb and braised flank which was cooked to perfection. I’m not much of a lamb eater but I can tell you this was the kind of lamb that would convert me. It had a good garlic flavouring but it enhanced the meat rather than overpowered it.
For dessert I ordered Emma’s chocolate tart with marscapone ice cream and pistachio dust. It was like the black hole of chocolate tarts – so entirely dense I almost felt like I might begin to orbit it. I couldn’t manage all of it as it was so incredibly rich, though the marscapone helped to soften that. The big surprise was the popping candy on top of the ice cream, I loved that! Chris had lemon savarin with lemoncello syrup and clotted cream sat on a bed of fig but I was too busy scoffing my chocolate tart to try it – he did say it was delicious though.
Our meal came to £106 for a 3 course meal plus 2 glasses of wine and a gin and tonic. This actually was more than our lunch at Fortnum & Mason where we had ½ a bottle of champagne or my birthday meal at Restaurant 27. I’m not sure whether it outdid either of those meals, but it was certainly up there with both of them.
Other places worth a mention
I must just mention a couple of other great places to go…
- The Dome, George Street – it was already decorated with Christmas decorations and a huge tree. Each of the massive pillars had a huge fir wreath wrapped around it, covered in cinnamon sticks. As soon as you walk in there, the smell of Christmas hits you. The cocktails ain’t half good too!
- Harvey Nichols Forth Floor , St Andrews Square – yes I did spell that right. It looks over the River Forth. Despite having a HN in Leeds, we’ve never been for a drink in there! I had a lovely champagne cocktail with violet liqueur and lavender sugar.
- The Jazz Bar, Chambers Street – Live Jazz. We loved it, though you’ll struggle to get a seat!
- The Cafe in the National Galleries – try the butteries!