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If you’re anything like me, I always find myself trying to eat mindfully at this time of year. It’s probably got something to do with knowing Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming up, both filled with the most delicious offerings, and trying to offset the damage somewhat. I’ve swapped lunchtime sandwiches for sushi and I’m drinking at least one green juice a day, but until now, it’s been hard to find an alternative to a sneaky bag of crisps. Sometimes you just need a little crunch. So, when Urban Fruit sent over their Coconut Chips, I was seriously intrigued. Triple toasted, the coconut chips are absolutely delicious. If I’m in the mood for something savoury, I’ve been grabbing a bag of the Siracha Chilli Chips which are wonderfully spicy. The coconut flavour is subtle enough to tame the heat a little, giving an almost Thai curry effect. The Straight Up Coconut Chips are an absolute godsend when you just need a little nicety. Not overly sweet, but seriously flavourful, they’re a perfect afternoon pick-me-up.

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After the next we spent in Newcastle, it was time for us to meander further south. Our final destination was the Cotswolds, but we felt it might be a bit rushed, barrelling down the M6 in a day, so we decided a stop off was necessary.Our base for the evening was Netherstowe House, a cosy spot in Staffordshire.

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The building itself is just breathtaking. A redbrick former mill house, the ivy covered walls were just beautiful, and such a welcome stop from the motorway! If you are something of a commuter, this is an absolute gem of a pitstop!

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We were shown to the Johnson room, which is classed as a Deluxe Room. Absolutely huge in size, there was ample room to stretch out, unpack a little, and generally unwind.

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The whole hotel is decorated in a cute, slightly eclectic style which falls somewhere between Laura Ashley and the Orient Express. The nods to exotic travel were so pretty, and the room was decorated with a surprising amount of antiques. As something of an art history nerd, I found this absolutely delightful, and it made the room feel so cosy!

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Kitted out with everything you could need to whittle away a few hours (including a soaking tub, and homemade cookies), we figured it was time to head downstairs and have supper.

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The Netherstowe House Dining Room was absolutely beautiful. Full of stunning original features, it was shimmering with candle light. I didn’t want to disturb the other diners by flashing a camera around, but it was really beautiful.

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We started off the evening with some freshly baked bread with butter and Maldon salt. Still warm from the oven, it was just the thing to get our mouths watering.

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After pondering the menu for a bit, we both ended up ordering the same dishes, they just sounded too good not to have, and whilst we waited we were surprised with the cutest amouse bouche. The tiniest cauliflower pakora you’ve ever seen was delicately balanced on a shot of satiny smooth cauliflower veloute. Despite it’s delicate size, it was packed with flavour – a balance of cumin and spice was the perfect winter warmer!

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We started our dinner with White Parmesan and Onion Soup (£6) which, although perhaps not the most photogenic dish in the world was a comfortingly savoury start to the meal. Absolutely filled with onion, and topped with a parmesan crisp, it was absolutely delicious!

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Between course we opted to try a sorbet to cleanse our palettes. A scoop of lemon (£4) and raspberry (£4) between us was an absolute delight. Sharp, sweet and perfectly tart, it was such a contrast from the soup.

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The main event was the 7oz Fillet Steak (£22) which came served with hand cut chips, a peppery salad and bernaise sauce. The steak was cooked medium-rare, and was wonderfully succulent, with a rich flavour and a melt-in-the-mouth consistency. It paired so well with the rich bernaise sauce and piping hot chips.

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After enjoying our meal, we positively rolled upstairs, and headed straight to bed. We slept so soundly we completely missed breakfast, but if you’re more of a morning person than I am, you can order a fully cooked meal, or choose from a Continental selection.

A night at Netherstowe House on a DB&B basis costs £195. Thank you to Netherstowe House for hosting us.

 

 

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I’m not sure about you, but when I’m on holiday, I really love to treat myself to a couple of really incredible meals. It’s such an indulgence, but honestly, sitting back, enjoying wonderful company and sampling delicious food simply cannot be beaten! I had heard wonderful things about the restaurant at Jesmond Dene House. It’s been awarded three AA Rosettes, and reviews are entirely positive, so to say we entered the dining room with high hopes is an understatement.

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The dining room itself is housed in the hotel’s former music room, and is decorated in warm tones, designed to draw the eye upwards, towards the most beautiful plasterwork. After admiring the room, and perusing the menu, we were treated to a selection of freshly baked, still warm from the oven breads. From a choice of three we opted for a slice of traditional sourdough and a sun-dried tomato brioche roll. There was a selection of butters too, and I went for the seaweed option. It’s not something I’d ever tried before, but it was absolutely delicious. Delicately flavoured, and deliciously savoury, it was the perfect way to start off the meal.

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I couldn’t resist the Chicken Liver Parfait which was served with Onion Marmalade and Toasted Brioche (£8.50). The parfait was an absolute delight – despite having a deep, rich flavour, it was whisper-light and satiny smooth. Piled on top of the freshly baked brioche toast, it was a study in comfort, and the onion marmalade was perfect for cutting through the richness. The salad which was served alongside was fresh and peppery, lending the dish another layer of complexity.

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We also couldn’t resist the Hot Smoked Salmon (£10) which was equally delicious. A mix of smoked salmon and salmon mouse, it was a such a wonderfully flavourful dish. The smoked salmon was rich in taste, with a perfect, firm texture. The mousse was flavoured with horseradish (one of my favourite flavours) which, along with the generous slices of gherkin cut through the richness of the dish. We both agreed that our expectations had already been exceeded, and they were the perfect start to the evening.

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Somewhat unusually, we both went for the same main course. You couldn’t not really. The Himalayan Salt Aged Cote de Boeuf (£35) was just too perfect not to try. Almost prehistoric in proportion, it was exactly what I was in the mood for! Served with Cafe de Paris butter alongside a garden salad and hand cut chips, it was the just the thing to enjoy on a cold, damp night.

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If you’ve not tried the Cote de Boeuf cut yet, you really must! It’s a rib steak with the bone still attached, and is the most perfectly succulent, flavourful steak you can imagine. Cooked medium rare, it was just the most wonderful supper. Crowned with a slab of mustardy Cafe de Paris butter, I could have feasted on this all evening.

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Honestly, this has to have been one of the best steaks I’ve had, probably ever. It was so tender and juicy, and the flavour was just out of this world! It was such a treat to be able to sit and really savour it.

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Along with a delicate garden salad (complete with edible petals) the Cote de Boeuf was served alongside a bowl of what could easily be the world’s most perfect hand cut chips. Served piping hot with a light sprinkling of sea salt. They were so crisp, with fluffy insides, they were an absolute joy!

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We couldn’t resist ordering a couple of desserts, and, the first to arrive was the absolutely gorgeous Lemon Meringue Pie (£8.50). It was a study in delicious contrasts – rich, buttery pastry held the most delightful sharp lemon curd. This was crowned with the most perfect swirl of meringue. Served with a refreshing quenelle of raspberry sorbet, it was a perfect way to end the meal.

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I had plumped for something a little more dramatic – the dark chocolate sphere (£10.50). I’d seen similar puddings plastered all over Instagram, and honestly, I couldn’t resist. Served a couple of beats behind the lemon meringue tart, I was a little baffled when a parade of waiters arrived table-side brandishing the gold-foiled sphere and a jug full of hot chocolate sauce.

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As the sauce was poured over the sphere, the magic really happened – the crisp outer shell simply cracked in two, revealing home made caramel ice-cream sitting on a disc of buttery shortbread. This was resting on a hunk of the most delicious caramel, as well as crisp salted peanuts.

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It was one of the most delicious and dramatic desserts I’ve ever encountered! It was such a decadent experience, and I’m it was just one surprise after another – I absolutely adored it!

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As you can probably tell, I had an absolute ball, and I have to say thank you so, so much to Jesmond Dene House for inviting me for both dinner and an overnight stay! It was a truly wonderful stay!

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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

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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!

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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)

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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

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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!

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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

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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.

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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!

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