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spanky

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Posts posted by spanky

  1. Oh God that programme about superchefs. Some no-doubt-overpaid cretin came on drivelling about chefs' need "to centralise control of the brand [that is, the chef] and exploit it in a 360 degree way". I found the Aiden Byrne stuff very dispiriting: sitting with his humour-free agent, dissecting his appearance on Saturday Kitchen, arsing on about "the Aiden Byrne brand". Do we care that much?

  2. No inside track, as such, but I passed the place the other week and it didn't look like it would be opening for a while. There was work going on, though. A bit of an odd site, tucked up off the main drag on a grand Georgian terrace--he won't get much passing trade up there.

  3. Hi--

    The List guide is good if you want an overview of the restaurants in the town (although I should add that quite a few places have closed down in the past year--the Jamaican restaurant Coyaba, Fenwicks, Jacques near Tollcross etc) but I wouldn't rely too much on its reviews. It just doesn't seem particularly critical of anything much.

    I went to The Dogs again last Friday and, after a shaky start with a rather peremptory waitress, we had a great and, for Edinburgh, astonishingly good value meal. I had very good lamb's heart stuffed with prunes and the wife and I shared an unctuous (and, because of its size, unfinishable) platter of pork belly and tomatoey butter beans. Very few places in the town are doing this kind of cooking and at this price. I can see why some people get annoyed with David Ramsden's style of service, but he's never been anything but pleasant to us.

    I second Hanedan. Great food, lovely smiley service. It's also BYOB.

    I know I'm in the minority on this, but Valvona and Crolla's restaurants--meh. On the other hand, Centotre, on George Street, I do like. Rather erratic service, though.

    Have you considered La Garrigue on Jeffrey Street for things like cassoulet? Just the ticket now that the Russian snow is coming!

    Is the Cafe Royal mentioned on the thread? I can't remember. Good seafood, great ambiance.

    Ian

  4. Second the Cafe Royal. I also like The Shore and the King's Wark in Leith.

    The Canny Man's Bar in Morningside--a bit far out of the centre of town, but eminently reachable by a 5, 11, 16 or 23 bus or a taxi (reachable, that is, if you don't mind sitting staring at road works for half an hour or being snarled at and knocked about by Lothian Buses bus drivers)--has a vast array of whiskies and a very good wine list. It also has a quite unique and (I'd say) beautiful interior, if you can get past the three-feet layer of stoor on everything. I've been very uncomplimentary about this place on this forum before--it is exceedingly cliquey and the staff can range from pleasant to asking-patrons-to-leave-for-no-good-reason rude--but age has probably mellowed me a bit. It is one of a kind and is perhaps as good an embodiment of the Edinburgh temperament as you're likely to find!

  5. You could always detour to Oban and go to the seafood shack on the pier--the last time I was there I had a great prawn sandwich and my mate had some beautifully fresh scallops. Definitely worth a look.

    There's a website here which suggests that since my visit they have another more permanent venue as well as the shack.

    (I can't quite work out when it's open though.)

    Ian

  6. Vinotas--

    I've got a bottle of the 2002 Extegaraya Lehengoa--have I missed its optimum drinking moment (I was sort of waiting for the legendary tannins to soften a bit) or does it still have a bit of time left in it?

    Cheers

    Spanky

  7. We went two weekends ago.

    Three significant changes from Kropotkin's tasting menu. Instead of the sweet corn soup, we had scallops in a roast garlic veloute (the veloute was one of the highlights of the meal, unctuous and flavoursome--I could have eaten a whole dish of it alone--though we thought the scallops were slightly overdone). There was also a truly gutting change in the meat dish from the beef shin to loin and civet of hare, both of which were toothsome, if tiny, morsels. The dish was certainly a triumph compared to the one that preceded it: mackerel with, as I recall, coffee honeycomb and pistachio puree. It was the first night the dish had been on the menu, and it was a disaster. The coffee complemented the pistachio; the pistachio went fine with the mackerel fillet; but the coffee simply overwhelmed the mackerel, leaving a bitter, oily slick in the mouth that could be dislodged only with three swigs of water and two mouthfuls of our Auxey-Duresses. A lot more tweaking needed in this dish, I fear.

    There was also quite a bit of free bread, which made up for the rather paltry dishes and just about stopped us from getting a sausage supper on the way home.

    Spanky

  8. On Friday night we went to The Dogs, David Ramsden's new "traditional restaurant", which has taken over the Tijuana Yacht Club's old beat on Hanover Street. Mr Ramsden's a bit of a legend on the Edinburgh restaurant scene, and lately I've been having trouble keeping up with the many pies he's got his fingers in. (Over the past few months, I've read he was general manager of The Apartment and its sister restaurant The Outsider; I saw he had a new restaurant called Iris in the old Monster Mash location on Thistle Street; and now this.)

    In contrast to one of Mr Ramsden's previous ventures, the late lamented Rogue, The Dogs isn't crisp tablecloths and nice glassware with a luxurious, laid-back vibe. It's mismatched chairs, bare tables dotted arbitrarily about the (smallish) room and paper-napkined wrapped cutlery plonked down in front of you in your water glass. It's busy and, at times, a bit frenetic. The menu is cheap cuts of meat and offal-heavy, with very few items over a tenner; the long-ish wine list has only a couple of bottles over the £20 mark. Theoretically, a couple could eat three courses with a bottle of wine and get out for less than fifty bananas.

    The question is: would you want to? On the strength of my meal, I'd say yes. My toothsome ham hock terrine (£4.50) was well matched with some punchy piccalilli, and my main of melt-in-the-mouth braised ox cheeks and horseradish mash (£8.25) was cut perfectly with some pickled walnuts. Others in our party didn't fare so well, however. The wife said that her breast of lamb, though very nice, really needed some kind of condiment, and we felt that the beef rib steak (the most expensive dish on the menu at £19.50) was a wee bit lacking in meat. As for desserts, the lemon posset (£2.50) was declared a winner, while at £4.25 (I think) my rhubarb crumble wasn't really a patch on what I might be able to rustle up of an evening. The service, led by Ramsden himself, was certainly efficient, if somewhat stymied by the obstacle course of oddly angled tables and thrust-out chairs with coats trailing behind them.

    The Dogs has only opened, so the kitchen might still be finding its feet. With a bit of tweaking, however, and at these prices, it could be a real winner. Anyway, David Ramsden doesn't need my recommendation: he was turning away people in droves on Friday night.

    Spanky

  9. There's an old thread about Edinburgh somewhere. I'm sure some of it still holds up.

    Best, as in Michelin-rated: Martin Wishart, The Kitchin and Number One are Edinburgh's one-stars. The first two are down in Leith, which will involve a bus or taxi ride through the construction site of the new tram system. Number One is attached to the Balmoral Hotel, so it's very central. Also, the Champany Inn, a 20-minute train ride away in Linlithgow, just got its first star. As for expensive restaurants, Leith also has The Plumed Horse, which used to be a one-star in the wilds of Dumfries before it moved to the big city--mixed reviews, can't comment myself--and The Vintners Rooms. The Atrium, just off Lothian Road, has a bib, and I would have recommended it v highly, only for the fact that my last meal there was rather underwhelming. I think Ducks at Le Marche Noir in Stockbridge just got a bib too.

    Restaurants I like: La Garrigue on Jeffrey Street, for southern French cooking; Centotre, buzzy Italian on George Street (it's now got a sister place in Stockbridge called Zanzero); Bella Mbriana, a Neapolitan restaurant that opened a couple of months ago at the bottom of Broughton Street. Had a very decent pub meal recently at the Cafe Royal Oyster Bar, which you have to go to anyway for the decor. DON'T go to the Voodoo Rooms around the corner. Also like David Bann's as a veggie option.

    Cheers

    Spanky

  10. Good luck with the location, because if they don't click with the Scottish Parliament brigade they're not going to survive; that area's been a graveyard for years.

    True enough, speaking as one of that brigade. The restaurant in question used to be the moderately well regarded Reform Restaurant, but there's some sort of curse operating in that stretch of the Royal Mile. Plaisir du Chocolat, for instance, very well known to those who know Edinburgh, went into receivership not so long ago (but that was because they'd stretched themselves too thin). Strange, given that just around the corner are the very well regarded and long established La Garrigue and David Bann's.

  11. Infrasonic--

    At the risk of sounding like a pedant (but, hey, you were being pedantic in the first place), I should point out that your sentence makes it sound as if it's Alexander's innovative proprietor, Patricia A Douglas, and not the restaurant, that's "located in the idyllic village setting" etc etc

    Of course, she might well live in that idyllic village too. :biggrin:

    Spanky

  12. Re: Fisherman's reply

    The response I'd expect on this site about where chickens are "sourced from" etc etc

    Oh if we could all eat poulet de Bresse whenever we chose. (Think, still, of the food miles just for a yellow chicken!)

    In that respect, I had my doubts about Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's recent endeavour: the economic imperative (low-to-average income parents trying to service their family's needs or even just the basic human attraction to a bargain) tends to trounce the moral imperative most times. That's why Tesco gets richer and more powerful.

    Anyway. Surely we shouldn't get too hung up on ready meals. What--are none of us guilty of succumbing now and again?

    Maybe not. Maybe you all have haloes.

  13. Funny, yes, but I felt Gordon was maybe a bit too heavy on his bollocks-centric approach. (Certainly the word "bollocks" and all its various versions, Spanish and otherwise, were as prevalent as the word "fuck".) Anyway, was he secretly hoping that that bull would gore the guy's cojones or something?

  14. Oh God! Not Finnegans Wake! Irish bar! Madness! From there it's a slippery slope down Victoria Street to the stag night-hen party hell of the Grassmarket.

    You could try, instead, the Cafe Royal bar just off the east end of Princes Street (beautiful decor); Frazers at the Dome on George Street (again for decor and cocktails; starting to get pricey, though); the Doric on Market Street (just round the corner from Waverley train station)--good old-fashioned boozer. I like the Traverse Bar on Lothian Road for a "modern, youngish, arty" vibe, myself. If you're adventurous, you could head to Leith and the King's Wark bar or the Waterfront. Both nice places.

    As for cakes, a new place called Falko Konditormeister has opened up between Tollcross and Bruntsfield (stay on Lothian Road and keep going). Wonderful Black Forest Gateau. Also try Plaisir du Chocolat on Canongate (lower part of the Royal Mile). Great Sachertorte.

    Enjoy Edinburgh when you come! Congrats on the wedding!

    Spanky

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