Ford Farm Cheesemakers Truffler English Cheddar*

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When it comes to cozy evenings in, I’m not sure if you can beat a great cheese board. A few good cheeses, a sprinkling of crackers and some fruit is deceptively simple, yet incredibly satisfying. Add in a glass of champagne or prosecco, and I’m in heaven! So, when I was sent some Truffler English Cheddar from Dorset Ford Farm, I couldn’t wait to give it a go.

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Ford Farm’s Truffler is a rich and creamy cheddar is studded with Black Truffle.The moment it’s out in the open, all you can smell is truffle, and it’s really dreamy. Rich and savoury, it’s just the thing if you’re in the mood for something decadent. I first paired it was wheaten crackers, grapes and pear, and it was delightful.

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The next day, though, when I was scouring the fridge for an easy supper, I happened upon a remaining chunk of the Truffle. Finely grated, I turned it into the most gourmet of toasties, andI have to say, it was rather impressive. The cheddar melted beautifully, and turned wonderfully gooey, whilst the bread stayed satisfyingly crisp. I’m already getting an order together, and I don’t want to mention the ‘C’ word too soon, but Truffle would make a rather perfect addition to a festive spread!

Ford Farms Truffler is priced from £2.00 per pack and is available here

Wahaca Edinburgh*

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When Edinburgh’s new Wahaca threw their doors open for the first time last week, I knew I had to check it out! Not only is it one of the city’s newest haunts, but it’s also the first Wahaca north of the border.

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Located just off St. Andrews Square, it couldn’t be a more central location, and it was the perfect spot to sneak into after a long day at work. The restaurant itself is far bigger than I expected – spread over two floors; it was packed, despite our visit being pretty early on a Thursday evening.

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We were seated upstairs, and got to soak in the atmosphere. With Latin music pumping, and the staff buzzing around, it felt like we were somewhere rather more glamorous than cold and rather damp Edinburgh!

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The menu is pretty vast, and caters to pretty much everything you can think of – whether you’re in for a quick bite, or a bit of a feast, you can order as much or as little as you like. There’s even a tapas-esque section filled with morsels to savour if you fancy a bit of mix-and match in your supper!

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As we pondered our dinner choices, one choice I didn’t have any trouble with was my drinks order! I’m a fan of a margarita (frozen or otherwise) and opted for a Classic (£7). Served icy cold, it was an absolute delight – sharp lime and smooth tequila was a heavenly and classic combination.

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We started off with a couple of sharing dishes. Obviously we couldn’t miss guacamole, and the inclusion of Frijoles was a new one to us, so we ordered a tub of that too!

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The Guacamole and Tortilla Chips (£4.50) was great mash-up of zesty and creamy, just as you want from the green stuff! Wahaca make their guac fresh daily. With chilli, lime juice and coriander, it was a flavourful way of kicking off the meal!

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Our order of Frijoles & Tortilla Chips (£3.50) was an unexpected delight. Comprising of twice-cooked black beans and chorizo, it was incredibly flavourful and satisfying. Paired with the crispy tortilla chips, it was the perfect accompaniment to my margarita and started the meal off beautifully.

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Then we got onto the mains. Neither of us could resist the British Steak the Mexican Way (£12.95) which promised an overnight-marinated Bavette steak with a crisp cheese, green rice and salad. It’s one of my favourite cuts of steak to cook at home – and happily Wahaca’s didn’t disappoint!

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It was an incredibly generous portion, and an absolute riot of colour on the plate. The meat was cooked to medium-rare perfection, tender and so flavoursome. It paired well with the green rice, and extra crunch was added to the salad with a sprinkling of seeds and slices of tortilla chips.

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Suitably stuffed by the meal, we couldn’t even contemplate pudding, but with options like freshly made churros served with warm chocolate sauce (£4.25) and salted caramel ice cream (£4.25) we were incredibly tempted!

Thank you to Wahaca for having us!

Personalised Nutella – only at Harvey Nichols!

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So I think it’s safe to say – Nutella is pretty much everyone’s dirty little secret. There’s nothing quite like a thick schmear of it on a hunk of freshly toasted bread. And I’m not sure you can even think about visiting Paris without inhaling a crepe covered in the stuff.

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Now though, Harvey Nichols are taking Nutella love to a whole new level! You’ve got until December 10th to grab a jar for yourself (or a loved one) and see the label printed before your very eyes! The Nutella personalisation service will also travel to Harvey Nichols stores in Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Knightsbridge.

Dates:

  • Bristol (19 October – 31 October)
  • Birmingham (1 November – 14 November)
  • Edinburgh (15 November – 10 December)
  • Leeds (26 November – 10 December)
  • Manchester (11 December – 24 December)
  • Knightsbridge (mid-November through to 24 December)

A personalised jar will cost £5 (0r £8 in gift wrapped)

Clucky Balboa at Byron*

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When Byron announce that they’re releasing a new burger, you can imagine how excited people get! Since opening two outlets in Edinburgh this year alone, they’ve become my favourite haunt for a casual bite with friends, so, when I got the chance to try the rather brilliantly named Clucky Balboa, I jumped at the chance!

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So, on a rather damp Wednesday, I headed over to the Lothian Road restaurant to get to grips with the newcomer. Claiming to be a new burger champion, I couldn’t not pop in and give it a go!

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If you’ve never been before, The Lothian Road Byron is a gorgeous, rather industrial property which always has a good buzz going. It’s right across the road from the cinema, and the Usher Hall is just around the corner, so it’s the perfect spot for an indulgent bite before an evening out!

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It had been a busy day at work, and we were absolutely starving, so we opted to share a plate of Nachos (£5.95). Happily, they didn’t disappoint. The plate was piled high with tortilla chips, with generous scoops of salsa, guacamole and sour cream. Sprinkled with melted cheddar cheese, they were an incredibly moreish start to the meal.

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We both also opted for some shakes – Vanilla with bourbon (£7.00) and Chocolate with bourbon (£7.00). Since I wasn’t the designated driver, I rather cheekily snuck both shots into my milkshake and made it (extra) hard. I can’t tell you how wonderful Byron’s boozy shakes are – incredibly decadent and they always feel like such a treat.

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There was no discussion on what I’d be ordering for my main meal. I’d been savouring the thoughts of Clucky Balboa all afternoon, and I opted to go for the spicer hot sauce smothered version (Make it Buffalo) £11.85). Since it’s the restaurant’s latest special, every time one of these burgers is ordered, Byron provide a school meal for a child in need. Which means there really isn’t a real not to try it out yourself.

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I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed the Clucky Balboa. It’s probably the messiest burger I’ve had in a while, but the flavour was insane. A rather hearty fried chicken breast had been absolutely covered in Byron’s hot sauce, and was piled high with lettuce, siracha mayonnaise, guacamole and sliced pickles, then contained in one of the restaurant’s signature squishy buns.

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The hot, vinegary twang of the hot sauce worked well with cooling guacamole, and the chicken itself was moist and juicy. By about two bites in, I admitted defeat and had to get to work with a knife and fork, as the burger was as delicious as it was messy.

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My friend had gone for the rather neater Byron Burger with Monterey Jack (£8.25), which was declared delicious.

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To go with our respective burgers, we shared pots of fries – one cheese covered (£3.95) and the other original (£2.95). The fries were hot and crisp perfection, and the drizzle of Freddar cheese helped cool some of the heat of my Clucky Balboa. The whole meal was absolute perfection, and we positively rolled back out to Lothian Road filled to the gills with the best burgers in Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s Byron Chicken Run*

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So it’s probably not exactly a surprise when I say that Byron is one of my favourite spots in Edinburgh. Their burgers are basically the stuff of cravings, and I will be forever grateful to them for introducing me to the greatness that is wasabi mayo on a burger. So, to celebrate the launch of their new Clucky Balboa Byron are giving away over 200 burgers!

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All you have to do is keep an eagle eye out for these rather fetching chicken figurines when you’re out and about this weekend. If you’re lucky enough to stumble over one – Byron will gift you a chicken burger  absolutely free! (it doesn’t have to be the new Clucky Balboa, but try it, it’s amazing!) I have a whole review post lined up, but thanks to a faulty camera cable, it’s going to have to wait until Monday. But I’ve tried the new Clucky and it’s delicious – so, get out, explore and find yourself a free chicken burger!

Bespoke AwB

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If you ask which restaurants to visit in Edinburgh, it’s pretty much guaranteed that there will be a few people telling you that you need to visit Angels with Bagpipes. Located on the iconic Royal Mile, it’s one of those places which people just fall in love with.

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I’ve never actually made it there myself, but I’ve heard incredible things, so it’s definitely on my hit list! What’s exciting though, is that they’ve just launched Bespoke AwB – allowing them to provide great food in a social dining experience. They believe that sharing is a beautiful element which makes an occasion special, so you can now have AwB cater your own special events!

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What could be better than having an incredible restaurant cater your private event? Not much, I’d say!

You can find Bespoke AwB www.bespokeawb.co.uk

Dinner at No. 11 Brunswick Street Brasserie*

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I feel like Edinburgh has a whole lot of little gems, which I’m just finding, and one of those has to be No 11 Brunswick Street’s Brasserie. When I mentioned I was heading there after work, my colleagues had nothing but good things to say about it!

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No 11 Brunswick St is a stunning, luxury hideout situated in one of Edinburgh’s iconic Georgian townhouses. It’s a touch down from the Edinburgh Playhouse, so if you’re after a spot for supper pre-theatre, you’ve got to check out the Brasserie.

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The restaurant itself is in the front of the property, it has views out onto the street, and it’s a gorgeously intimate affair. Painted in deep charcoal grey, it’s the perfect canvas for the chandeliers and mirrors which glitter as the night gets darker, and it has to be one of the cosiest dining rooms in the city!

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I went on a Friday evening, straight from work, and the welcome couldn’t have been warmer. We were shown to a table in the corner, right next to the window, and settled on two glasses of the House Red and got down to choosing what we wanted for supper. The wine was an absolute delight – rich and fruity – it was the perfect accompaniment for what was to come!

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The menu is well sized with enough variations for everyone – the first appetiser we opted for were the Chilli and Coriander Fishcake Bites with tartare sauce (£7.00). A trio of crisp spheres arrived, coupled with a homemade tartare sauce. The bites were hot and crisp on the outside, and wonderfully fluffy within. Hunks of cod and salmon studded the bites, and the tartare sauce was wonderful – filled with capers and dill, it was a delicious update on a classic.

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I opted for the Grilled Queen Scallops with Bernaise sauce (£7.00) which were just heavenly. The scallops, served on the shell, were soft and sweet, whilst the Bernaise sauce had just the right amount of vinegary bite.

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When it came to mains, we both opted for the Fillet Steak (£28.00) with Red Wine Jus (£2.75). As you can probably tell, it was a wise choice. The Brasserie at 11 Brunswick Street really aim to serve as much local produce as possible, and the beef was just delightful. Rich in flavour, yet incredibly juicy and tender, we both agreed that it’s one of the best we’ve had in a long time. The Red Wine Jus was the perfect accompaniment – I don’t usually add sauces to steak, but this was a delight.

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To go alongside the steaks, we shared three of the side dishes – it was a touch call, but we went for the Red Cabbage and Chilli Coleslaw (£3.00), Garlic Buttered Greens (£3.00) and Mascarpone and Parmesan Mash (£3.00). Honestly, the whole thing was perfection. The Coleslaw was light, and crunchy – just as it should be. The Garlic Buttered Greens were delicious – the garlic was light enough to let the freshness of the vegetables shine through, and the Mash was heavenly. We should have guessed, thanks to how light the Fish Cake appetiser was, but the potatoes were wonderfully creamy and flavourful. Exactly what you want to have alongside such a heavenly cut of meat!

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Then, after giving ourselves a good while to ponder the dessert menu (and to digest the rather delicious meal) we both opted for the Sticky Toffee Pudding with vanilla ice cream (£5.50). I had wavered over the idea of Creme Brûlée, which, of course, sounded divine. But by this point it was pitch black outside, and the dining room was positively sparkling, and a cosy pudding sounded pretty much heavenly. What was served has to best the very best Sticky Toffee Pudding I’ve ever even thought about. With a swirl of homemade vanilla ice cream and doused in rich caramel sauce, the pudding came already crowned in pear soak in mulled red wine. The sponge was airy in texture, and incredibly moist. The sauce was incredibly moreish, and the ice cream just superb. It was the perfect way to end one of the best meals I’ve had in a very long time. So then, after a pot of green tea, we positively bounced out of the dining room, full of wonderfully fresh, Scottish produce, promising to return soon.

Blackbird Bar & Restaurant*

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Living in Edinburgh, you get pretty used to grey evenings, but last Friday was grimmer than most, with lashings of rain and near gale winds. So, having a booking at Blackbird Bar & Restaurant was pretty much the best way to spend an evening. Located on Leven Street, right on the way into Bruntsfield, Blackbird has been one of those places I’ve been dying to try, so when I was asked along to try out supper, I just jumped at the chance!

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The interiors of Blackbird are the definition of cosiness. Split into two halves, one containing the bar, the other, tables for diners – it’s a snug little nook to tuck yourself into for the evening. The walls are original stone, whilst candles and chandeliers shimmer in corners. Despite heading in pretty early, there was already a pleasant buzz as families and couples pondered the menu.

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Coming in out the rain, we fancied something light to start off with, while we decided on cocktails, so we opted on a sharing plate of Crispy Plantain Chips (£6.95) which came with guacamole and spiced yoghurt.

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Sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, the chips were deliciously light and crisp, and the guacamole was just a delight! I can be rather fussy about the ‘green stuff’ but Blackbird’s was a delight – creamy and flavourful with chunks of red onion and chilli.

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As we crunched through the sharing platter, our thoughts turned to cocktails – it was Friday night after all! Perhaps unsurprisingly since half the place is a bar, the drinks menu is incredible – pages of choices encompassing old favourites and new creations. We plumped for two off the ‘Long’ page – a Rhubarb and Elderflower Collins (£7) and a Spiced Pear Buck (£7). Both were perfect – icy cold, refreshing and almost juicy in flavour, I could have easy sipped on them all night!

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The first of the mains we ordered was The Blackbird Steak Pie (£12.95). Served with a generous portion of twice cooked chips, this was the perfect choice for such a grim evening.

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The steak pie came in it’s own little cauldron, and was a hearty mix of crisp and flaky puff pastry with a meaty and rich gravy below. Well flavoured, with huge chunks of steak – it was a hot pot of comfort!

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I opted for the Sumac Crusted Chicken Breast (£11.95) which came on a bed of fried new potatoes and grilled lettuce. The chicken was moist, juicy, and absolutely huge – the sumac gave it a zesty freshness which sat well with the lime butter and vegetables. The grilled lettuce was an absolute revelation – salted and drizzled in lime butter, I’ve already copied this at home! The dish was well balanced and incredibly satisfying – just the way to end a busy work week!

The Lobster Shack – North Berwick

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Over the past few weekends, for one reason or another, I’ve found myself ending up in North Berwick. Before this summer, I’d never even ventured to the town, but now, since it’s only a half hour drive from Edinburgh, I’ve become quite the regular!

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Discussing places to go in the town, everyone had something great to say about The Lobster Shack, so it was about time to go explore the harbour and indulge in a little fresh seafood!

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The Lobster Shack is located right in the centre of North Berwick’s harbour, and you can’t miss it. If the blue and red shed wasn’t eye-catching enough, there will be a long, though quick-moving, line of people all debating over the small, well balanced menu.

DSC_0429Considering that The Lobster Shack consists of a single ‘shack’ with one chef and a few wait staff who buzz around taking orders, tidying and doing whatever else, the menu has everything you could enjoy on a sunny day in Scotland, and from beginning to queue to being served up with steaming boxes of seafood, could have only been 15 minutes. Considering it was a sunny afternoon, it was a pleasure to stand outside and watch the boats come and go and relax a little.

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We opted to sample three of the menu’s best-loved dishes – a half lobster, breaded haddock and a carton of seafood chowder. Honestly, I forgot to photograph the chowder, but it was the best cup of the stuff I’ve had outside of the American East Coast. It was indulgently creamy, with hunks of potato, haddock and lobster. Served with slices of crusty bread, it was the perfect start to an indulgent lunch in the sunshine. Then we moved onto the mains – both hulking boxes of seafood, chips, salad and coleslaw. The breaded Haddock and Chips is the fish supper of your dreams. The fish was juicy, the breading crisp, and the double-cooked chips were crunchy on the outside, yet still pleasingly light and fluffy in the middle.

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I went for the half North Berwick Lobster, and honestly, I think it’s one of the best meals I’ve had in a while. Cooked simply with a little garlic butter (the remnants of which are poured over the chips) the half lobster was a gleaming mass of fresh meat, just waiting to be wrestled out it’s shell. Wonderfully sweet, the freshness of it was evident, and sitting in the sunshine enjoying it was absolutely heavenly!

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Foundry 39 Edinburgh*

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I’m always on the hunt for new places to go out in Edinburgh. As far as capital cities go, it’s a pretty small one, and it’s easy to lapse into a routine of old favourites when planning to meet friends, so whenever a new place pops up, I want to be the first one in the queue!

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Foundry 39 has opened up in the city’s West End, a space filled with the most gorgeous of Georgian architecture, although strangely lacking in the culinary department. Happily though, the restaurant has an extensive drinks selection, as well as casual favourites including nachos and sharing platters, and a menu dominated by sourdough pizzas and gourmet burgers. Basically it’s the casual hang-out spot you’ve been dreaming about.

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The interior of the restaurant is rather Pinterest-worthy too! Corners of it are dusted with copper accents and there are succulents mounted on the walls. After nestling into one of the restaurant’s many booths we got to grips with the drinks list. Our first choice was a Peach + Rhubarb Bellini (£8.25) to ease any work stresses, and it was a great choice; a mix of fruity and bubbles, it was the perfect refresher and got us ready for the fun to begin!

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Then we got stuck into the good stuff – a Nachos Sharer (£7.50) which came presented on an aluminium tray let us catch up on the week’s events. I’m a big nachos fan, and really, who isn’t? Foundry’s were a generous portion of fried tortilla chips (my favourite) with hearty dollops of salsa, sour cream and Monterey Jack cheese melted over a sprinkle of jalapeños. The mix of hot and spicy chilis and salsa with the cheese and sour cream was well balanced, and they took the edge off our post-work hunger pangs.

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We were both feeling absolutely ravenous, so we opted for burgers. Again, they came on an aluminium tray (a nice touch which keeps everything tidy) along with our choice of fries. Burgers and sides can be ordered separately, so you can really tailor your supper to your cravings, and if you’re feeling a bit healthy there are even salads and slaws to choose.

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I opted for the Buffalo Blue Cheese & Chicken Burger (£8.95) and a portion of Sweet Potato Fries (£3.50), and I’m pleased to say, the meal was just a dream. I never normally order chicken burgers, but the promise of crispy fried chicken with lashings of blue cheese sauce was just too good to resist. The chicken was cooked perfectly – juicy on the inside and crisp and well seasoned on the coating. There was a generous schmear of blue cheese dressing which gave it a delicious hit of savoury flavour. The fries too, were just heavenly. Crispy, yet fluffy on the inside, they were the perfect mix of slightly sweet and savoury, and they were deliciously moreish.

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We also opted for a more traditional order of a Cheese Burger (£7.95) with an order of House Fries (£2.50). The burger was filled with a giant patty of fresh, well seasoned beef with a generous swipe of mustard and cheese. The mix of flavours was just perfection, and it’s the definition of a good, traditional burger and fries choice, but to be honest I didn’t really get the chance to taste it – and that’s always a great sign, right!?

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To accompany our mains, we thought it would only be right to sample a different choice from the drinks list, Captain Barbosa (£7.50) caught our eye. Spiced rum, Courvoisier VSOP, as well as ginger, lime juice and ginger beer was a wonderfully fresh yet boozy concoction which tipped us merrily into feeling tipsy.

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I don’t tend to order dessert at restaurants – but the promise of Dark Chocolate Brownie (£5.50) was too good to resist. I’d been craving a rich, chocolatey treat for days, so my expectations were high. Happily, Foundry 39’s was a delight – a huge slap of gooey dark chocolate topped with a dollop of vanilla ice cream and salted caramel sauce. It was warm, rich, and incredibly satisfying!

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We couldn’t leave without trying the Berry & Raspberry Ripple Sundae (£6.50) either. It is the summer after all! It was a perfect mix of rich, creamy vanilla ice-cream with fresh berries and slightly tarte compote. It was a great sharing dish, and we savoured every mouthful!

Thank you so much Foundry 39 for having us!

 

Baba Budan Coffee Edinburgh

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If I’ve come across you any time in the past couple of months, chances are that I’ve extolled the virtues of Edinburgh’s New Waverley Arches. Located to the back of the train station and up a little, the development is absolutely chock-full of independent businesses which range from a city-best nail salon (Buff Concept Store, I’ve got a review coming soon) as well as a Bubble Tea parlour (here) and even a raw restaurant and wine store.

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Baba Budan though, is ruling the coffee-scene up there.Now located in two of the arches (these photos were taken when they were just in a  single arch) Baba Budan is every coffee lover’s dream come true! It’s a stunning little spot where you can hide away from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh, and I have to say, their offerings are pretty much the definition of perfection!

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Every time I go in, I order one of their to-die-for flat whites. The coffee is so rich and creamy, it’s my perfect way to caffeinate! As if drool-worthy coffees weren’t enough, the pastry selection at Baba Budan is in-cred-ible. They have a daily selection of the freshest, lightest donuts you can imagine. They come in dreamy flavours – my latest was bourbon cream, and it was just to die for!

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If you’re more into pastries, Baba Budan has you covered – there are trays of the flakiest croissants and cinnamon swirls you can imagine. I’ve never actually gotten around to trying them yet (because, duh, donuts!) but it’s only a matter of time!

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Baba Budan is also the perfect little lunch spot, as they sell the most mouth-watering of bagels. Filled with everything from tuna to falafel and humous, it’s such a welcome change from my regular lunchtime salad!

Baba Budan is located on East Market Street