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  1. Nice room, very Bistrot; food similar with lots of classics. Menu a little more Racine than Arbutus, but one look at the rabbit loin with gnocchi and you know who's kitchen it is. We had a starter of snail and bacon pie which was fantastic, as was the egg and mushroom on toast, steak tartar comes as starter or main but staff hadn't worked that out yet, which kind of summed up front of house, which was ragged (this being day one it seemed to consist of a couple of old stagers with their pants on their heads and a bunch of teenagers having difficulty working out which table was which) but will be absolutely fine by next week - thoroughly recommend.
  2. Is it open? I thought soft, half price food, opening from next Monday 10th (I have a table booked for for lunch - so hopefully the paint will be dry).
  3. Following on from a fortnight of people who run their own catering schools, hospitality industry stalwarts (Little Chef, Travelodge etc) , and pub chefs just saw the line up for the third car crash week of Iron Chef UK - TV guide says "Amateur cooks Madalena Moreira, Tony Borthwick, Pierre Levicky and Craig Dunn face a culinary contest against a professional chef" That'll be three Scottish based "amateurs" - Michelin Stared Tony Borthwick from the Plumed Horse in Edinburgh, Abode Glasgow's head chef Craig Dunn and the man who founded the monster that was Pierre Victoire (not sure who Madalena is though), surely fellow Scot Nick Nairn will notice even if the production company didn't.
  4. Surely time to take a step back and realise we are having an argument, sorry discussion, about who is the best Michelin starred Chef in Leith, something your could have got astronomical odds on eight years ago when Wisharts had two people in the kitchen, one competent front of house (hi Cecile), and the leftover staff and cutlery from an Italian restaurant, oh and £14 house wine made by somebody’s relative (hopefully not Martin's) - they could do with bringing the latter back I say. So well done Wisharts for starting it and Tom Kitchin for upping the ante by providing a realistic, and excellent alternative . Can’t wait for Paul Kitching to be up and running, and hope some others see where the bar is now set and go for it, although sadly judging by the message here http://wildsorrelrestaurant.com/ you’ll need to get the talk: trousers ratio right, which is a shame as yet again the food was getting great reviews – pity it appears to have closed before I got a chance to try it.
  5. Had a good dinner here on a quiet Monday, specials menu read really well and the ones we tried - cheek and walnut salad, Venison, especially the faggot, and the quince tatin (great idea) - were excellent, I think it's just personal preference but the mutton chop served pink (that's a 'chef cooks it pink' not just me being contrary) tasted fine but looked like it had developed a little middle age spread so I wasn't quite sure what to do with the thick layer of yellow fat, shoulder was beautifully cooked and delicately rolled and I can see why you would invite the Arbutus boys for tea. Only downside was the location of the toilets (more signage and less wild coordinated gesticulation from the bar staff next time possibly) and the fern on our table which we needed to order a jug of water for - and as many of his mates as we could reach without being noticed- it was so dry, look it seemed like a good idea at the time, but that could have been the Rhone talking. Will happily go again next time I'm in Manchester. P.S. Slightly off topic but right forum the previous night we did Red and Hot - hate to say it but prefer it to Red Chilli - anybody tried the London branch?
  6. Just thought I should point out that the - one table left with three weeks to go on a Thursday, in my last post - was down to a table of twelve and Edinburgh University graduation that day (proud mom and pop and little Tarquin's abounded), so it might not normally be that impossible to get into Kitchin midweek. The food was however excellent, and one of the specials was a classic Pig's Trotters Pierre Koffman with mash, not normally a great choice for the end of June but due to the fact it was bucketing down outside almost perfect.
  7. Andy is spot on about Kitchin, and excellent value, check out the £20 three course lunch ( http://www.thekitchin.com/lunchmenu.pdf ), how good does "Boar head from the Borders, boned and rolled in bread crumbs, served with a fried egg and crispy ears" sound, and a remarkable number of sub £25 bottles of wines for a one star restaurant. ( http://www.thekitchin.com/winelist.pdf ). I'm reminded of a review of Martin Wishart by Nick Nairn a few years ago where he suggested you should go while you can still afford it and the chef is still in the kitchen (still 50% accurate with Wishart's - great food. but a treat rather than a regular destination). If you are going to Kitchin you will probably need to book well ahead though as I'm going on Thursday and could only get 6.45, back by 9.00pm, table when I booked the best part of a month ago.
  8. To link a couple of the suggestions together it might be worth pointing out that Kushis is now located between Finnigans Wake and the Bow Bar at 9 Victoria Street. The Potterrow venue is now Mariachi, although they still seem to have kept their branch next to the Bow Bar and two doors from Kushis (it's a small town sometimes). Can't tell you what the food or space is like in Kushis as we couldn't get past the bouncer (!) on Friday as it was full. On the food front I agree about the bread and cakes at Konditormeister, they have a stall at the weekly farmers market on Castle Terrace if you get there early enough – I have to say on the basis of my last few visits the farmers market really has come on leaps and bounds in the last year or so; I think they are about to start a Thursday night variation as well, and although I’ve never tried it the pig roast van is always busy if you need to eat.. Cheap eats, two perennial suggestions Kebab Mahal in St Patrick’s Square and secondly for pizzas and value if note decor (and note I'm doing this in the same sentence as the opulence that is Kebab Mahal) Jollys on Elm Row near V&C you'll get a couple of huge wood fired pizzas and a litre of wine for £25, and to talk to Vito about Rangers if your not careful. Other than that there are now two Kurdish restaurants in Tollcross, Laraz is pretty good value especially as it hasn’t got its license yet and is byo, which keeps the price down and while I’m in Tollcross I’ll once more sing the praises of Szechwan (House) Restaurant tucked behind the Cameo – still think their smoked duck is better than the one at Red Chilli. And to round this off reasonably symmetrically still in Tollcross Cloisters is a pub that I'm sure used to be run by the previous owner of the Bow Bar (who now owns Thompsons on Morrison Street according to that most reliable of resource my barber).Cloisters does a nice line in guest beers and since the smoking ban you can now actually see the bar, not necessarily an advantage but probably healthier for you. Geoff.
  9. Last time I ate at the Atrium in Edinburgh (which I have to admit was about two years ago), they managed to get a Pithivier in both the main course and the pud, which as they only do about six dishes for each course is an impressive ratio. So well done Atrium for being ahead of the Zeitgeist (hope it makes up a little for this years Hardens review).
  10. I’ve done weekend lunches there a few times (not so much bridge and tunnel more easyjet) and think the foods is generally excellent. My recollection of the wine list is you can find a reasonable bottle for £35 if you look hard enough (especially if you start in France rather than Italy); certainly I’ve no complaints about the Dolcetto d’Alba. I had on my last visit, the prices do climb steeply but there’s some good wine on the list if money is no object – and it is after all your birthday – I have a vague recollection most of the Ramsay wine lists are hidden on his web site in pdf form if you look hard enough, and would like to swat up rather than getting the wine list cold. The room itself is a little, eh, brown, which I agree gives the whole thing a rather autumnal atmosphere. My only real quibble is that on both occasions I’ve done Saturday there seemed to be a staff conference just before 3pm, so the four people who had been doing various bits of service on our table throughout lunch all vanished with the rest of the crew behind the cheese trolley and it made getting the bill a little difficult, only a problem because we’d finished our wine and the sommelier was also in hiding. I’m also reliably informed, though I have no personal experience, that the little old lady who guards the women’s loo can be a little disconcerting on your first visit as she appears from nowhere like the shopkeeper in Mr Benn. So yes, I think you should be excited; it just about pulls off the old school hotel meets new(ish) school cooking trick, in my opinion, better than Claridges, which is the obvious comparison. Geoff
  11. A number of good points have been made about Szechwan (Sichuan) food; it is truly fabulous when done properly, although like most cuisines dangerous in the wrong hands trust me you can quite easily have too much fish flavoured sauce. Two examples of the right hands spring to mind, one, inappropriately enough for a UK board, is Z&Y which used to be Sam Lok’s on Jackson Street in San Francisco, a mere two weeks ago I feasted on wontons in chillies, pot stickers (sorry but I like pot stickers authentic or not), twice cooked pork, lamb stew (better by far in actuality than in translation) and a dish of shredded eel with vermicelli topped with whole Chillies that turned out to be a great big bowl of elvers (so again better in translation), with a carafe of red under $50, although I appreciate more expensive if you include the ten hour flight in each direction. Closer to hand, and a place a lot of people seem to be heading in the next two weeks, Edinburgh has a fabulous Szechwan restaurant called Szechwan house (hence my confusion with the correct spelling). Dismissed out of hand by Scotland’s List food guide because the food is spicy and the staff don’t have Scottish as a first language – that’s bad how? - The chef is indeed royal banquet trained, and is brilliant as is his wife (?) who does front of house; she’s unflappable and very sweet. Thye do a roaring trade in Chinese coach parties so the air is always thick with smoke and Szechuanese chat, looks like the set menu for a table of eight is a big fish, some spicy aubergines and lots of bok choi. On a good night it’s as far away from Edinburgh as you can get and still be next door to the Cameo cinema. There is of course the special menu written in Chinese but I’ve yet to convince the staff I’m ready for that (my guess is it says ‘big fish and spicy aubergines, minimum order eight people’). The general menu contains such gems as ‘Won Ton soup Szechwan style’ get a good chicken stock, a few wontons, a bit of lettuce and an enormous slick of chilli oil - we usually play a game and the first one to have enough of a coughing fit for the matre d’ to bring them a glass of water pays - sounds easy (the soup not the coughing fit) but you need the stock to be well made and the hand on the oil to be trusty. Next up, the in-house smoked duck with home made buns, I once went with a celiac who enquired about the buns, ‘made with rice flour’ we all heard, that’s ok then we thought, “self rice flour” the waitress expanded, less good suddenly (look it happened its not a homage to Benny Hill, honestly). The buns accompany a tea smoked half duck that is just fabulously moist but splendidly smoky, and shows a cuisine that isn’t all about blowing your head off with chillies. Main courses include gung bo lamb; lamb, to me, seems the benchmark for good Szechwan cooking (although for all I know in the province itself it may be as authentic as chips with curry sauce), if its on the menu you’re likely to be in the right place. The gung bo lamb has a strongly reduced lamb stock some chillies some carrots and some peanuts, again simple but getting the stock to that point and keeping the lamb itself moist in the dish seems to be the skill. A similar dish ‘boiled lamb with Chillies’ also relies on producing that gunky thick delicious sauce that you know lamb will produce eventually when you cook it but are never exactly sure at home how long it takes to reach that point, thankfully they do here. Lots of things in fish flavoured sauces are available as well as dishes with home pickled chillies, but two more dishes need mentioning, the ‘ringing bell’ dishes where crisp wontons have a sweet, slightly vinegary sauce poured over them at the table, balances nicely with the more fiery sauces, and probably best of all, ‘twice cooked pork in yellow bean sauce’ bacon like pork served with leeks, carrots and pickled chillies, bacon and leek is such a great combination but here coupled with the sweetness of the carrots and the bite of the chillies, again very simple in concept but excellent in execution. We usually do soup, duck, two main courses, rice with a bottle of wine for about £50. If the previous paragraphs sounded a little meat-centric they also have a vegetarian set meal, as well as various non-vegetarian set meals to break people in gently. On the negative side, and in an attempt to put you off so I can still get a table any given Sunday, the décor is old school artex, the cigarette smoke filled room could be a problem to anyone with lungs, and the desert menu is one of those laminated cards with lemons and coconuts and plastic bottles of baileys all filled with ice cream. They also close twice a year for two weeks at a time so they can go on holiday, this only being a bad thing because I have to go without smoked duck. Oh and it’s in Edinburgh, which admittedly is only bad news if you live in Kent, but it’s an hour away by plane, which makes it nine hours closer than San Francisco. Geoff.
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