Mmmmmmmarshmallow

Team Stovies took a toddle along to Stockbridge Market today and were delighted to find ‘The Marshmallow Lady’ hosting a stall.

We took the opportunity to taste some of her wares and my oh my were they good. Our top two bite sized tasters were passion fruit and lemon meringue, both light, pillowy and very very fruity.

We scarpered home with a bag of Oreo Cookie mallows for the princely sum of £2.50. The proof is in the pudding however as the cookie encrusted clouds lasted less than five minutes and were a world away from a packet of flumps.

We’re looking forward to trying out more flavours soon, especially when The Marshmallow Lady’s cafe opens on Rodney Street at the end of June. Until then we’ll have to hope to bump into her again at the market soon.

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http://www.burghbakes.com/
http://www.stockbridgemarket.com/

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Flowers in the wind

image © iris

Iris, on quaint cobbled Thistle Street has been one of our favourite eateries for a while, especially when looking to impress. Great for entertaining inlaws but equally fabulous when out for a mid week treat with a friend visiting from the Big Smoke.

The three of us were warmly greeted by the staff when we arrived – even sharing a wee joke at the nonsense of changing our booking time three times in one hour. They didn’t seem to mind too much which was a great bonus. Inside Iris the restaurant is split into three rooms; a bar area and two main dining areas. We were shown to a table in the main dining area which is decked out nicely with wall length mirrors to add light, comfy benches and large wooden tables. The tables are quite close together but when seated you don’t get the feeling that you’re sharing your meal with complete strangers, which is testament to the intimate feel of the restaurant.

Bread was delivered along with menus and we relaxed while perusing. Be warned: the menus are very meat oriented but that’s no biggie, just worth bearing in mind if you have veggie chums. We settled on our choices quickly – with starters of Grilled Goats Cheese, Spiced King Prawns and a meat feast starter of Fried Chorizo and Morcilla. A fruity bottle of house red fuelled the conversation while we waited…

On arrival our starters looked and smelled fantastic! The prawns lasted no time at all and I wasn’t far behind with my chorizo and posh black pudding. The combination of salty chorizo and rich black pud was perfectly balanced by sweet caramelised apple pieces – definitely something to experiment wit in the Stovies kitchen at a later date. The goats cheese salad surprisingly light and accompanied by a taste bud popping cherry and chilli jam – quite probably the most imaginative accompaniment we’ve had with goats cheese yet.

Iris is obviously a place where people like the wine to flow as every table (including our own) was chatting loudly and having a great time. The dishes arrived (two steaks and a lamb loin salad) along with our selection of side dishes. Love it or hate it, in Iris you order all side dishes separately. Mrs Stovies has concluded this is a good option as you can avoid the withering looks that inevitably ensue if you ask for an alternative! Our sides were a mix of Sweet Potato Fries, Buttered Green Beans, Sweet and Sour Roasted Tomoates and Griddled Asparagus.

Now, I am pretty picky about my steaks. A badly cooked steak can really rile me and spoil my night out. Luckily my rare steak was perfectly cooked and decadently drenched in a salty garlic butter. The lamb salad was perfect too, a lucky side effect of having a lot of meat on the menu is that it will all be cooked to perfection. Our plates would only have been clearer if we’d licked them!

Sadly we’d no room left for desert but on previous outings the offerings to the sweet tooth have been delicious. Next time we’ll be more dedicated diners….

The damage: £25 a head but ever so worth it.

Iris, 47a Thistle Street, Edinburgh. Tel: 0131 220 2111
http://www.irisedinburgh.co.uk/

Exit stage right

Image © The Kitchen

There seems to be a lot on the telly box right now about service, we’ve been enjoying Mary Portas’ undercover shenanigans but even more so Michel Roux’s Service on BBC 2. Tonight’s episode emphasised the ‘theatre’ of dining out and that good service combined with delicious food is the key to a great meal.

The Stovies team are opening up the floor to Mother Stovies for this review which seems apt as she’s definitely got to take some responsibility for our enjoyment of eating out….

We decided to try the The Kitchen Restaurant in Inverness out as it occupies a beautiful building facing the river.  It’s also the sister restaurant of The Mustard Seed which we have visited often, never being disappointed.

We arrived to find the ground floor empty and were shown upstairs, passing the also deserted middle floor to a table quite literally at the door on the top floor.  With the waitress station just in front of us the river was far from in view and we couldn’t help feeling the table had been pushed in as an extra.

Perhaps because the atmosphere felt little lacking we skipped starters and moved straight to mains. My partner tucked in to halibut with a cheese crust and crab mousse. The fish was well cooked and fresh but the crust more a cheese sauce but was enjoyable nonetheless. I chose venison with potato rosti. Two of the three medallions were deliciously medium rare, the third was inedible and unfortunately, the rosti on which they sat was a hard, tasteless, soggy lump. The attentive waitress noticed that my plate was far from clear and asked if there was a problem with my meal. I explained about the rosti and she in turn explained to the chef. A few moments later she reappeared and informed me that the chef said this was what rosti was.

For desert we shared a cheeseboard. It was fairly standard, but there was no explanation of the different cheeses. Tea and coffee were followed, served with a nice piece of homemade tablet .

The total bill for two mains, one cheeseboard, tea and coffee and a bottle of Pinot Grigio was a reasonable £58.  While taking the payment the waitress was apologetic and seemed to feel exposed when responding to customers’ concerns. We feel that we know food, we cook a lot, we eat out frequently here and abroad. We search out restaurants with a good name.  On this occasion, our first visit, The Kitchen let itself down, not simply in serving up a substandard dish – this happens – but more in the limp response to our mildly expressed comments. So disappointing after the Mustard Seed

The Kitchen, 15 Huntly Street, Inverness. Tel: 01463 259119

http://www.kitchenrestaurant.co.uk/

Old friends and new

We toddled off to William Street to meet friends after work tonight only to find Bert’s Bar and Teuchtars rammed to the rafters. In need of a seat and a really good selection of beers we made a forray into the newly opened Sláinte Mhath. Formerly the Randolph Bar this is a real gem, spacious, but with several cubby holes and booths. For a Friday night things were a lot less raucous than the nearby ‘shiny-shoe’ bars of the West End, but it started to fill up later on with a live folk band due to play.

We weren’t in eating mode but did have a good look at the menu. Far from the usual Lasagne, Steak Pie or Fish & Chips offerings many pubs make Sláinte Mhath’s kitchen serve up Mussel Pots, Confit Duck and Daube of Beef to name a few. It’s definitely on the hit list to eat in soon.

Sláinte Mhath, 3-14 Melville Place, Edinburgh. Tel: 0131 220 1919
http://www.slaintemhathbar.co.uk/

Later we did need to go in search of food. Not being overly hungry we were pondering a pizza from the ever busy Pizza Express when we realised we were standing right outside our old friend Howie’s Cellar. When we started the blog we were really impressed by the new menu and refurb so we popped in to see how things are going a few months on. In a word: Swimmingly!

The restaurant was full and all of the faces at the tables looked happy as larry. The menu has changed with the seasons and a selection of larger dishes for one have been added to please the tapas wary.

The food was just as good as our other visits, a selection of smaller dishes filled the spot but didn’t over-stuff. The atmosphere was buzzing but still intimate thanks to the small interconnected rooms and the bill was as easy to swallow as the pints earlier in the evening.

To read the full Stovies review click here….

And now, time for bed. Good night!

A-har me harties!

Image © Seadogs

The Stovies team were recently invited to an evening out with friends at Sea Dogs in Edinburgh. Not ones to miss a trick in eating somewhere new we jumped at the chance, especially as Sea Dogs had been in our sights for a while…

We started the evening meeting for drinks in The Underdogs, the ‘waiting room’ of sorts for the Dogs’ collection of restaurants around Edinburgh. If you haven’t been in it’s pleasantly kitted out with ramshakle lamps, mis-matched sofas and doggy themed artwork; great for lounging with a large G&T. The short walk up to Rose Street helps to work up the appetite too.

We here at Stovies LOVE sea food (odd that we have few fishy recipes though, we must work on that) fried, baked, steamed, curried, raw – line it up and we’ll demolish it. The idea behind Sea Dogs is that it’s a fish and chip shop that you can dine in…in comfort. The decor is simple, relatively stylish and has some awesome crustacea based wallpaper! Our (somewhat large) group were seated and drinks orders placed.

The menu is fairly small but manages to fit in a healthy range of fish based dishes – there were even a couple of non fish options available (of which I am informed that the veggy paella was particularly tasty). Team stovies ordered spiced whitebait and a cullen skink to start with. The whitebait was lovely, still moist and served with a very punchy aioli. The cullen skink was beautiful, rich and smokey and would put my grannys to shame, thankfully she doesn’t have the internet so will never find out I said that….

Mains arrived after a nicely timed eating break, well, most of them arrived. One of our groups order had been left off but thankfully our waiter dealt with this perfectly and was very apologetic. As mentioned at the start Sea Dogs is a fish and chip shop. The twist is offering a selection of fish and coatings to choose from to make your optimum fish and chip selection. I opted for smoked hake in beer batter, battered and fried smoked fish being one of my favourite things and something rarely seen outside of the Stovies kitchen! The batter was beautifully crispy, the portion size was spot on but the delight here was the massive pile of mushy peas and homemade tartare sauce. Fishy, chippy, heaven. I even convinced the non fish eating member of the group to try some. Score one for the pescatarians!

Mrs Stovies chose stuffed salmon with lemon butter. Although tasty the dish as a whole was very rich and a little heavy. The skirlie stuffing was a hit and the salmon was perfectly cooked but the purple potatoes didn’t go down so well. I suspect she was having a fussy moment as another member of our our group had the same and thought it was spot on. We are sad to report that nobody had space for pudding…

Sea Dogs is an excellent option for dining out in Edinburgh, simple, no frills but good, honest food. The service we received was great and problems were dealt with efficiently. The pleasant surprise at the end of the meal was how reasonably priced it was – £27 a head including tip for 2 courses and lots of vino. We even had a flurry of kisses blown at us from our waiter as he finished his shift and left, priceless!

seadogs, 43 Rose Street, Edinburgh EH2 2NH. Tel:0131 225 8028

http://www.seadogsonline.co.uk/

Je suis un poisson rouge*

Image: Daniel's Bistro

A mid week trip to Daniel’s Bistro in leith proved the perfect way to brighten up a miserable winters evening. Although Daniel’s was based in our stomping ground, on St Stephen street, we had never ventured to his larger premises at Commercial Quay in Leith.

On arrival we were greeted and seated in the main section of the restaurant by very friendly staff. The decor is your standard bistro fayre of timber and bright walls which is perfectly pleasant, but the overly bright lights let it down a little. A wee twiddle of the dimmer switch would add a little more atmosphere and intimacy.

The menu is extensive with the usual French favourites you might expect – cassoulet, crepes, cheese etc. – and also a regularly changing specials menu with interesting treats. We ordered from a mix of the two menus and selected a particularly lovely bottle of Gewürztraminer, a wine that could definitely do with being on more wine lists! Our starters arrived swiftly, mine a french parma style ham and with alpine cheese and cornichons. Simple and delightful. The lady enjoyed grilled stuffed moules (sans frites!) which were a definite hit. A much stronger (and garlicky) flavour punch than mine but great with the complimentary crusty baguette. Starters a firm success.

The wait for our main courses was just long enough to sit back and digest the starters. As mentioned there are plenty of old favourites on the menu and following the recommendation of Daniel himself I happily tucked into Beouf Bourgignon. It had been a tough choice between this, confit duck or cassoulet. The beef was simply served in a casserole dish piled over boiled new potatoes. The taste was rich and unctuous and the beef literally melting in the mouth – delightful! In a wild departure from the norm my dining partner had ordered polenta with grilled goats cheese – an odd choice given our shared love for meat here at Stovies! The polenta was studded with a selection of veg and topped with gloriously gooey melting goat cheese. Rich yet very, very moreish the dish was particularly hearty for a veggie option. Perhaps one to recreate in the Stovies kitchen…

Having stuffed ourselves quite successfully mulled over another couple of glasses of wine to digest. One of the excellent traits of Daniels was that the staff were more than happy to let us do this, a refreshing change in our over-rushed world. We (eventually) got round to choosing pudding, a gateaux opera with two spoons. It was delicious, just not quite as decadent as we expected, but pleasant nonetheless. A lovely strong coffee helped wash everything down and rounded up a nice evening out. Daniels Bistro – great french fare, as relaxed as any Burgandy bistro and very helpful staff who make everyone feel like a regular.

* This is all I remember of secondary school french. Next time I’ll leave the languages to Mrs Stovies, people look at me a little strangely when I say that to them.

Dinner à deux with wine: £60.00

Daniel’s Bistro, Commercial Quay, Edinburgh. Tel: 0131 553 5933

http://www.daniels-bistro.co.uk

The Orchard. Our secret saviour.

 

The Orchard © The Orchard

 

The Orchard has long been the fall-back-plan place to eat when the Stovies team can’t  face cooking. It’s so nice and local that we sometimes forget why it became a regular staple in our repertoire. A wee visit last night helped remind us why! Refurbished a few years ago, The Orchard was transformed from a bog standard old man pub serving scotch pies, soggy fish & chips and uninspiring burgers to a modern, family friendly bar bistro serving fancy pies, scrummy fish & chips and venison burgers.

Our food arrived looking particularly good, my guinea foul brought with it a lovely wedge of dauphinoise potatoes, roasted root veg and a little gravy boat with extra marsala gravy – mmm, gravy. Guinea fowl is a game bird that I haven’t eaten before, but if it always tastes as good as the thyme mouselline stuffed version that the Orchard serve up I’m going to have to have more! Lighter than other game it worked perfectly with the dauphinoise and marsala gravy. Thumbs up from me.

The fish & chips were fresh from the frier, golden and fit for the cover of Chipper Monthly. The Orchard source their fish from Pittenweem so being a Fifer the Mrs has a special bias towards it. Having partaken of the dish myself on numerous occasions I can confirm that the fish & chips are very good, never greasy and always fresh. Our only minor gripe is that the portion sizes are VERY generous, which can be both a good thing or a bad thing depending on your mood/starvation levels. Last night it was a little much…

…which isn’t to say that we didn’t muster up some space to fit in pudding! So in the name of journalistic investigation we made our first ever foray into the desert menu, big portions = no pud usually. We ordered a lemon curd creme brulee and an fantastically retro Knicker Bocker Glory. The deserts arrived looking equally as delicious as the mains, although the KBG could have done with a saucer to catch the drips.

My creme brulee was light, rich and very, very tasty. Only a very small part was over caramelised (yes, burnt) for which I believe over zealous blow torching to be the culprit. The KBG was apparently fantastic. Filled with juicy berries, local ice cream, chocolate sauce and chocolate pieces, the Mrs announced it to be like Blackforest gateaux but tastier and without the gateaux. I wish I could say the same but I didn’t get to try it!

As I already mentioned, The Orchard is a fall back when we cant think where else to go, too lazy to cook or too lazy to walk into town. It’s a real shame as it is one of the best pubs for a good meal in Edinburgh and it’s all too easy to forget about the local when you’re busy exploring exciting new things. It was definitely worth having a visit to remind ourselves why we love it and why we need to go back. Again, and again, and again.

The Orchard, 1-2 Howard Place, Edinburgh. Tel: 0131 550 0850

http://theorchardbar.co.uk/

Dinner for two with wine £42.50