I’m through in Edinburgh most days, and end up in Bruntsfield regularly, which means I’ve driven past The Apartment Bistro hundreds of times, and every time, I’ve wanted to pop in. Just yards from the King’s Theatre, it’s a perfect spot to pop into for a pre-theatre supper, and it’s wonderfully cosy, if you fancy a longer, more indulgent dinner.

We visited on a rainy weeknight – starved from a busy day at work, and was welcomed into the cosy restaurant. Lit with tea lights and twinkling fairy lights, it was exactly what we needed to relax – and we got to grips with the menu.

To start we shared one of their Chunky Healthy Skewers with halloumi, sweet potato, pepper & courgette, zaa’tar lemon dressing (£12.70). I have to admit, I was obsessed with halloumi when I was at uni, and for some reason, I haven’t really eaten it since. This brought back my love for the stuff! Skewered with roasted sweet potato, the mix of salty, savoury and sweet was absolutely delicious.

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Alongside the skewer was a flat bread, potato salad, coleslaw and greens. It was a fabulous way to begin a meal. Over mouthfuls of warm, melting cheese and potato we discussed plans for the weekend, and vowed to recreate the dish at home.

For mains there was no resisting the 80z Flat Iron steak (£17.40). Served with hot and crispy fries, parmesan & rocket sauce, and a pepper sauce, it was a hearty portion. I managed to sneak a few of the fries, and they were delicious!

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We had opted to share a portion of Sautéed Greens (£3.30) to go along with our mains. A hot, buttery mix of cabbage, it was a perfect accompaniment to our meaty mains.

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At this time of year, it’s impossible for me to resist venison when I see it on a menu, so when I spotted Roasted Venison Haunch, Hasselback potatoes, Confit Carrots, Baby Onions & Bacon, Gravy (£17.40) there was no other option.

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The whole dish felt like autumn on a plate! The venison was rich and tender – cooked medium rare, it melted in the mouth, and was just perfection. Paired with the sweet potato mash underneath, the confit carrots and hasselback potatoes was exactly what I needed on a cold Edinburgh night!

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I loved the baby onions and charred cauliflower – it’s a combination which isn’t used nearly enough!

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After all of the delicious mains, we were well and truly stuffed, but one look at the dessert menu ensured we couldn’t leave without sampling something. We opted to share the Lemon Tart (£5.70) – deliciously tart, with a gloriously custardy filling, the tart was perfection. I just loved the addition of the crystallised peel on top – it added a wholly new texture to the dish, and I could have easily demolished the entire thing!

Thank you so much to The Apartment Bistro for a fabulous dinner!

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A couple of weeks back I decided it was time for a little r&r, and headed down to Oxfordshire. It’s a trip we’ve started to do annually, usually in the autumn, where we throw a couple of bags into the back of the car, book into a couple of gorgeous hotels, and just relax in the countryside for a bit.

This year was no different, and we were lucky enough to catch the whole of the countryside in the most vivid throes of autumn. As well as getting to enjoy copious amounts of countryside, a visit to the Cotswolds also means I get to stop off at possibly England’s finest farm shop – Daylesford.

Nestled in the hamlet of Kingham, Daylesford is everything you could wish for from a countryside retreat, and a whole lot more. With cottages to stay in on-site, a spa stocked with the finest Bamford products, and the best homeware, fashion and food, I always find myself spending afternoons pottering around, treating myself to a few little luxuries.

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There are also a couple of restaurants on-site. Like the rest of Daylesford, the products are organic, locally grown, and the dishes change seasonally. We snuck in on a Friday afternoon for lunch, and it was an absolute delight.

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We couldn’t resist the sound of Roast Baby Beets, Beetroot cured salmon, honey & wholegrain mustard (£9). A dainty, beautiful coloured plate of tender, flavourful salmon and sweet vegetables. The honey and wholegrain mustard mayonnaise gave a little heat, and is a combo I’ve already tried to replicate at home!

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I ordered the hand-sliced Venison Tataki, white radish and ginger – the butcher had the most incredible looking haunches of venison in the store, so I couldn’t resist! The Tataki was incredible delicately flavoured, and just melted in the mouth. Paired with the accompanying soy and cabbage and ginger salad, it was incredibly moreish.

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In something of a blogger-review fail, we both ordered the special – and honestly, who could resist? A homemade fish pie with seasonal greens (£16) was exactly what was needed to feast on, and it was absolute perfection.

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Huge hunks of salmon and egg were encased in a silky sauce, and topped with the creamiest mashed potatoes you can imagine. After a morning spent outside, exploring Oxfordshire, this was exactly what we were after!

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We also had to try the Triple Macaroni and Cheese (£4.50). All creamy, cheesy goodness, with an added hit of truffle and wholegrain mustard, this was a deliciously grownup take on my go-to comfort food. I loved the gratin topping, and the mix of three cheeses was absolutely divine!

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Filled up with the best of Gloucestershire produce, we ended the meal with a cappuccino (£3.50) and a Cinnamon Latte (£4). When I say I’m obsessed with the coffees from Daylesford – I don’t think you quite understand how good they are! Piping hot, and just a hint of cinnamon, I started every morning off with one when we were down, and I may have finished every evening with a hot chocolate from the to-go counter!

Thank you so much to Daylesford for our lunch – you can find the menu here.

 

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It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since the Waldorf Astoria group took over Edinburgh’s Caledonian Hotel, transforming it into one of the city’s most luxurious spots – so last week I popped through to join in with their celebrations.

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The Waldorf’s afternoon tea, served in the elegant Peacock Alley is something of a city institution. The hotel itself was formerly a train station, and Peacock Alley was the concourse! It’s a stunning space – all high ceilings and rust-coloured brickwork, and it provides the perfect setting for an indulgent afternoon.

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The name for the room comes from the hotel’s history – Edinburgh’s finest would visit the hotel, and would walk up and down the restaurant to show off their most fashionable outfits – their ‘peacocking’ became renowned, and the name stuck!

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As part of the hotel’s birthday celebrations, there was a special take on their famous afternoon tea. Partnering with Edinburgh tailor Walker Slater, we were treated to fashion show between courses of afternoon tea, whilst Edinburgh Gin provided a twist to tea – with a special cocktail and gin-inspired treats.

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Presented by Dougie Vipond, the afternoon was one to remember! The fashion show was presented in two parts and I think it put everyone in the mood for autumn. Sumptuous velvets were paired with smart tweeds, and it was such a lovely introduction to such a fabulous Edinburgh brand, which I (mistakenly) thought mostly catered to gents.

The models sported suitably ‘Edinburgh’ windblown hair, and the outfits have already sent me scurrying around my cupboards, pulling out my tweed blazers with abandon!

It was such a lovely way to spend an afternoon! I haven’t had afternoon tea for eons, so this grown-up version was exactly what I needed to kick-start the weekend! We started with a citrus-y gin cocktail courtesy of Edinburgh Gin. Notes of orange and grapefruit worked together to make it supremely drinkable!

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We were then presented with a tea menu to choose from – the Waldorf Astoria have over 40 teas and herbal infusions to choose from, so it took a while to decide! I opted for the Formosa Oolong Finest hailing from Taiwan. Light and refreshing, it was the perfect accompaniment to the goodies on offer!

We  were presented with the first layers of goodies – sandwiches, rolls, and the most perfect little quiches you can imagine! There was something for everyone – egg mayonnaise was served in buttery brioche rolls, whilst a rich cheddar was served as an open sandwich on rye bread.

 

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There were chicken wraps as well as ham and tomato on soft white bread, and perhaps my favourite was the smoked salmon mouse served on granary bread.

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We enjoyed prosecco with the sandwiches, and after the fashion show we moved onto the sweeter options. This is where the pairing with Edinburgh Gin really got to shine!

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Gin soaked cupcakes, and gin infused strawberry tarted were favourites of the table, but the fresh scones with jam and clotted cream were also devoured. It was the perfect way to begin a weekend, and even though the fashion show was a one-off event, you can still book in to enjoy an Edinburgh Gin afternoon tea (and really, you should!).

Afternoon Tea at Edinburgh’s Waldorf Astoria is priced from £35pp

 

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If you’re looking for something new this weekend, I’d seriously recommend heading over to Harvey Nichols Edinburgh Forth Store to try the limited S. Pellegrino Itineraries of Taste. Until October, the Restaurant is serving dishes from Michelin-starred chef Elizabeth Allan. I popped in a week or so ago to give the new menu a spin, and I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed!

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We started the evening with an S. Pellegrino cocktail – a mix of gin, grapefruit and sparkling water which was just delightful. Rather embarrassingly, I had come straight from a full day’s work, so I’m afraid I drank the cocktail before I could whip out my camera.

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The meal started off with Pasta, Egg Yolk, Bacon Dashi, Black Garlic and Chives. A supremely savoury dish, I loved how dramatic the presentation was.

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Once the Dashi was poured in, it created a rich and almost creamy broth, with the handmade pasta as the perfect dose of carbs. Beautiful as well as absolutely delicious, this was a deceptively simple way to kick the evening off!

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The meal continued with Picked Potato, Clams, Sichuan Oil and Caviar – a light, fresh and incredibly punchy course. What looks like noodles, was actually the pickled potato, and the mix of salty clam and spice was absolutely delicious . I loved the salty kick from the caviar too!

Perhaps my favourite course was BBQ Beef, Tare Sauce, Cauliflower Puree, Veal Sweatbread and Raw Mushroom. It sounded like quite an eclectic mix at first, but the combination of tender beef with the cauliflower was just incredible! The richness of the sweetbread contrasted well with the raw mushroom, and honestly, I could have munched on this all night!

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We rounded off the evening with Buttermilk Pannacotta, Shiso, Sorrel, Pickled Cherries and Honey Jelly, which was an absolutely delicious way to end the meal. Much lighter than most puddings, the buttermilk lent an almost yoghurt-y tartness to the dish. I was absolutely obsessed with the the shore granita on top, and I can’t even tell you how great the pickled cherries were!

Getting the chance to hear from Elizabeth Allan and hearing her take on the dishes was such an incredible experience. She is such an accomplished talent, and I can’t wait to hear about her new restaurant which is opening up in London!

You can enjoy the dishes in the Forth Floor Restaurant until October!

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When I read up about the Principal Manchester, one of the (many) things which stood out about the hotel was the restaurant, Refuge by Volta. A huge space serving food all day, it’s one of those places you can pop in if you fancy a bite, or head to when you’re in the mood for something a little more special.

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The concept of the restaurant is an interesting one – globally influenced, you can pick from tapas-style dishes which range from salads to steak and everything in between.

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Since the menu has so much to offer, we opted to enjoy some olives (£4) and Dad’s Persian Lime Sodas (£2) as we perused the menu. The joy of these small dishes is that you can order a real mixture of flavours, and they’re brought out as and when they’re ready, rather than in the more traditional courses.

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The first dish to arrive was the Crispy Duck, Watermelon and Pomegranate Molasses (£8.50). Absolutely delicious – the mix of juicy watermelon, crisp duck and peppery rocket was a perfect way to start the meal.

Then came some of the biggest, juiciest tiger prawns imaginable served with chilli, and lime butter (£9.50).

To mop up some of the chilli’s heat, we opted for the cooling Mutabal (£4) a middle eastern style dip with beans and aubergine, as well as Bread for the table (£4.50). The mix of breads was delightful – the flatbread felt perfectly paired for the dip, whilst slices of soft herby bread dipped into the olive oil was delightful. My favourite though, was the slice of coal black charcoal bread. It had a soft, almost cakey texture and subtle charred taste, it was like nothing I’ve ever had before.

We couldn’t resist 6oz Flat Iron Steak (£11) with a portion of hot and crispy Fries (£4). The steak was perfect – nicely pink in the middle with a flavourful char on the outside. Served with a hollandaise sauce, it was the perfect duo.

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We had the best of intentions when it came to dessert, but then the waiter left us with the  pudding menus, and honestly we couldn’t resist. The promise of Cardamom Creme Brûlée (£6.50) just sounded too delicious to miss. When it arrived we were far from disappointed. The burnt sugar top smashed delightfully revealing the creamiest of custard, delicately scented with cardamom.

The Ice Cream Sandwich (£6.50) also sounded too good to miss. Two of the biggest chocolate cookies held three scoops of ice-cream (vanilla, chocolate and strawberry), it’s no wonder the waiter told us this was his favourite dish on the menu!

Thank you so much to Refuge by Volta for having us – we will be back soon!