Dinner at The Refinery Edinburgh*

If you’re familiar with Edinburgh, you’ll probably have noticed a whole lot of building work going on around St. Andrew Square. A rather ugly 1960’s brutalist monster was torn down, and in it’s place, a marble and brass-clad phoenix has risen in it’s place. Chock filled with new restaurants and bars, it now feels like the obvious place to start an evening out in the city, and I had been dying to try The Refinery who opened just before Christmas.

With views over St. Andrew Square Garden, The Refinery is something of a Pinterest dream come to life. A huge high-land cow mural greets you as you enter, and there is a packed bar to weave past, and up the spiral staircase is the dining room. All warm tones, copper and interior #goals, it’s the perfect place to spend the evening.

The restaurant is the brainchild of Drake & Morgan, so of course cocktails are a big deal here. Of course, there are the classics, but I couldn’t resist when I read ‘Goldfish in a Bag (£7.95).’ Gin, vodka, rosemary and a cute name? It was meant to be. Since I wasn’t driving, I got to have the ‘fun’ drink, but the runner up prize – a spicy Virgin Mary (£4.50) was equally delicious.

As we perused the menu, we munched on smoky almonds (£2.95) and fat Italian olives (£3.65).

Starters were a shared affair, and by chance, we both picked ‘kebab-ed’ options, which made sharing an absolute breeze. Prawn Lollipops (£6.75) were huge, juicy shrimp coated in a light, crispy layer of tempura batter. Accompanies by a sweet chilli dip, these were deliciously moreish.

I couldn’t resist ordering the Chicken Satay (£6.25) to start, and was pleasantly surprised by the generous portion. The chicken was well cooked – crispy on the outside but still moist in the middle. They came with a healthy portion of sweet and peanuty satay sauce and were absolutely wonderful!

Our table was by the window, and we had the most stunning views over St Andrew Square. The service in the restaurant was efficient and friendly without feeling too overbearing, and when we popped in post-work on a Thursday, the restaurant had a steady buzz all evening.

Choosing main courses was tough. Literally the entire menu sounds delicious, so we stuck to old favourites, and happily, they were just delicious! The Fillet Steak (£24.95) sounded too good to miss. Served with chips, watercress and a choice of sauce (an additional £2.95) (we went for Blue Cheese) the fillet was everything you hope for in a good cut of meat. Ordered Medium Rare, the steak was perfectly chargrilled on the outside and still tender in the centre. The accompanying chips were crisp and crunchy with fluffy centres, and the Blue Cheese sauce adds a wonderful richness to the dish.

I opted for the Wagyu Burger (£13.75) which came with blue cheese and relish. I’ve heard a lot about these burgers, and I have to say, it was fabulous. The burger was so rich and succulent, it was everything  you crave when you’re in the mood for one. Since you order it on it’s own, I opted for a portion of Roman Fries (£4.50)

Scented with Truffle Oil and topped with rosemary and parmesan, the fires were fabulously hot, crisp and savoury. They paired well with the savoury notes of the burger, and honestly, I think I’ll be ordering all chips in the future with rosemary, truffle and cheese!

Even though we were absolutely stuffed from dinner, a quick look at dessert menu persuaded us into enjoying one more course. The Refinery even has dessert themed cocktails (it was a school night, so we couldn’t indulge) as well as drinks from Edinburgh based establishments, which we both thought was a lovely touch.

 

A slice of Pecan Tart (£5.95) came with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream, and was a seriously satisfying pudding. Rich and sweet, this was such a delicious, and surprisingly unusual (for the UK) way to end a meal.

I couldn’t resist ending the meal off with the rather indulgent Creme Brûlée (£5.95). Topped with a satisfying ‘crack’ and three buttery morsels of shortbread, the pudding was everything you could wish for.

Rich, and full of vanilla goodness, the Creme Brûlée was absolute perfection, and the little flowers which decorated the pudding were just adorable! We savoured the last course for as long as possible, then it was time to head home.

Reluctantly we headed back to the car, but not before promising each other to return soon – perhaps sitting outside, where each chair comes equipped with a blanket to fight off the Edinburgh chill!

Thank you to The Refinery for having us!

Dine Out at Tigerlily Edinburgh*

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Tigerlily is one of Edinburgh’s George Street icons – if you’re trying to arrange to meet people, everyone knows where it is, and it’s central enough to be a great base for nights out in the capital. They also have rooms upstairs, so if you’re in the mood for a bit of a luxurious night away, you know exactly where to go!

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Last week though, we popped in after work to give Tigerlily’s brand new Dine Out! menu a spin. With a dinner menu that’s only £15pp for two courses, we couldn’t resist!

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In a bit of a food blogger fail moment, we both ended up ordering the same meals, but you can’t blame us! To start with we ordered the Belhaven smokehouse chilli lime
& coriander hot smoked salmon with caper berries. I’m on a massive smoked salmon kick at the moment, and eat it about three times a week, and this didn’t disappoint!

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The salmon was soft and sweet, and paid beautifully with the briny, fried caper berries, which added a bit of crunch. It was a lovely, light, almost summery feeling starter to the meal, and I loved the light crispiness of the caper berries!

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Then it was time for the main event. I had been toying with the idea of the pork belly, but it had been too popular, so we both plumped for the slow braised beef shin, celeriac & parsnip puree with kale & pancetta jus. This was the most wintery, comforting dish you can imagine. Rich, tender meat was paired well with gravy, and the celeriac and parsnip purees were absolutely delightful.

We also indulged in a portion of truffled chips to share. Topped with a mushrooms and slivers of parmesan, they were toasty hot and crispy, and delicately scented with truffle oil.

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The Dine Out Menu is such a great addition to Edinburgh’s dining scene! It’s so nice to be able to just pop out during the week and enjoy a supper out – especially somewhere as pretty as Tigerlily!

The Dine Out Menu is priced at £15 and can be viewed here

Dinner at Taisteal Edinburgh

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If you’ve been in Edinburgh recently, chances are you might have heard about a rather exciting restaurant opening up in Stockbridge. It’s an absolute jewel box of a restaurant, located on Raeburn Place, and named after the Gaelic to journey or travel. This little hint should give you clue for what’s on the menu – wonderful, Scottish produce in dishes which are inspired by global cuisine. It’s a genius combination, and one which Head Chef Gordon Craig pulls off with aplomb!

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The restaurant only opened in January, but it’s already become something of an Edinburgh destination. It was fully booked on the Tuesday evening we went, and it was the perfect place to while away a rather drizzly evening. If you’re in early enough, there are two menus to choose from -a Market Menu which includes two courses for an incredible £10 per person, but we opted for the A La Carte offerings.

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In something of a food blogger fail, we ordered the same starters and main courses, but it was a tough choice. Everything on the menu sounds incredible, but neither or us could resist the lure of Pan Fried Scallops with Satay Sauce, Black Pudding and Pomegranate. (£9).  The portion was generous, with five perfectly cooked scallops placed amongst morsels of rich black pudding, pomegranate seeds and delicate peanut tuille. The combination of the buttery scallops, and black pudding, is of course, a classic, but the inclusion of pomegranate and peanut was genius. It was a starter which really exceeded all expectations, and was an absolute joy!

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The mains were an equally tough choice, but the Maple and Five Spice Gressingham Duck Breast with Grilled Pak Choi, Edamame Beans and Shitake Samosa (£17) was absolutely dreamy. The combination of rich, moist duck with the charred greens, fresh edamame and mushroom samosa was just too good to resist!

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Honestly, I don’t order duck as often as I would like to, but this was absolute perfection – the meat was tender, juicy and flavourful, and the 5 Spice sauce it was served to was absolutely divine. Gently spiced, there was an almost coffee-like note which was just divine.

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The Shitake Samosa leant the dish a savoury note, and it was one of those meals which you just hoped wouldn’t end. The mi of flavours was just wonderful, and I’m not sure we chatted much, instead just motioning at out plates and declaring how good they were!

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Honestly, when we had popped in, we both thought we were going to skip pudding – it was only a Tuesday night after all! But after the absolute joy of starters and main courses, we both just kind of looked at each other, and agreed we couldn’t leave without finishing the meal off right! I opted for the Chocolate and Yuzu Fondant, with Orange Curd, Powder and Sorbet (£6.50), because honestly, Yuzu is one of my all time favourites, and I never see it on menus in Edinburgh. What came was the most perfect Fondant you could imagine – cut with a spoon, it puffed out a stream of molten chocolate sauce, which had been lightened with the hint of citrus. This coupled with the scoop of Orange Sorbet was just perfection. Warm, rich and gooey, it was absolutely heavenly.

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We also couldn’t resist a slice of the Lycheesecake with Stem Ginger Ice Cream (£6.50). This was, again, divine. The rich, whipped cheesecake was delicately flavoured with Lychee (again, a childhood favourite of mine) with a rich biscuity base. Studded with popping candy, it was an absolute joy of a dish – with the subtle perfume of the lychee contrasting with the ginger-studded ice cream. The desserts were an absolutely perfect way to end one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time, and I can’t wait to go back!

 

Byron’s Calvin Haggis Burger*

If you’re not from, or live in Scotland, chances are, you might not have come across Burns Night before. It’s something of a localised celebration, which is probably celebrated with more gusto by expats outside of Scotland than the most of us in it! But Byron is changing all of that, with their Calvin Haggis special, which is being served exclusively in their Scottish restaurants until January 29th (Sunday).

I popped in yesterday, and I had had one of those days where I hadn’t had a second to think, let alone have lunch, so I was absolutely starving by the time I arrived at the North Bridge restaurant at 7.30pm. So, prior to getting to grips with the special, we ordered a plate of Nachos (£5.95) which came piled high with salsa, guacamole, sour cream and melted cheese. Absolutely delicious as always, the Nachos are the perfect mix of zesty, creamy and crunchy.

To drink, I feel like there is really only ever one option at Byron – their Vanilla milkshakes are just too good to resist, and, even though it was a school night, we opted to add a shot of bourbon (£7.50). Honestly, the Hard Shakes are just dreamy, and the mix of bourbon and vanilla is just perfection!

Then it was time for the main event – the Calvin Haggis burger. The brainchild of one of Byron’s Glasgow employees, it was originally thought-up as something of a hangover cure, and it might just be the most stocked burger I’ve ever tried.

The Calvin Haggis consists of a 6oz hamburger, haggis, bacon and onion relish, tattie scone, American cheese, dry cure bacon, fried egg and onions, all finished off in a glazed bun with some Byron sauce. Honestly, it’s an absolute monster of a burger, but it’s surprisingly delicious! I ordered my egg well done- and the mix of all the flavours was an absolute revelation.

I have to admit, I did eat my burger with a knife and fork because it was so packed with cheese and sauce, but the mix of savoury flavours, thanks to the potato scone, bacon, cheese and onions was mouthwatering, and I’m sure that Byron will have to make this a regular Burns Night special, because everyone seemed to absolutely love it!

Many thanks to Byron for having us!

 

 

Charbonnel et Walker Milk Orange Thins*

I feel like this year has been the year where I’ve indulged in rather a lot of rather fabulous chocolates, but perhaps my favourite out of the selection has been Carbonnel et Walker’s Milk Orange Thins. They feel like an update on the classic golden coins we all got for Christmas, and honestly, delicious is an understatement!

Coming packaged in a double box which feels like a jewel box to unwrap; the Milk Orange Thins are creamy discs of smooth milk chocolate, delicately flavoured with orange. The snap of the discs is seriously impressive, and I love enjoying one with an espresso for a mid-afternoon treat!

Charbonnel et Walker Milk Chocolate Thins are £12 per box and are available here (UK) and here (US)