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Edinburgh and Glasgow in Spring


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Hello!   I'm just popping over from the USA:PNW board to see if I can get any tips on the food scenes in Edinburgh and Glasgow. It looks like I'll be heading over there this spring to do some rese

Yes, it's called Banana Flats.   More about.        

American Airlines I am told (by my sister who I will be traveling with) is offering some sort of business class/hotel deal for dates next year. So this is all useful information, thanks.

  • 7 months later...

The Wall Street Journal visiteth Leith, and pronounceth the cuisine worthy of a second star...

 

 

It wouldn't be true to say that Leith has gone from zero to gastronomic hero in no time flat, because Scotland's best cook, Martin Wishart, has had his urbane restaurant there since 1999 (www.martin-wishart.co.uk). Eating in all three starred places last August during the Edinburgh Festival raised more questions about the Michelin Guide inspectors' standards of judgment than about the location. If it's a wonder that the wry, intelligent, articulate and handsome Martin Wishart hasn't got his own TV cooking show, it's a greater absurdity that he hasn't got a second Michelin star.

 

In his soothing dark-wood and beige-leather dining room, the service (with one staff member for every two guests) is of three-star quality, unobtrusive and speedy. But if you're feeling chatty, ask a question or two of the chap who serves you the cheese course; he's not only extremely knowledgeable, but surely the only Hungarian who speaks (fluent) English with a strong Scottish accent.

 

Our £60 three-course à la carte menu was only a fiver less than the six-course tasting menu, and we pushed the bill further up by choosing a superb white Rully (£64; and though devastated to find the same vintage V. Dureuil-Janthial Rully on offer at Costco for under a tenner, we recouped by buying the remaining seven bottles). But we were thrilled by our cylinder of foie gras, with its nutty praline topping; our roasted Kilbrannan scallops, with wisps of Bellotta ham; and the polka-dot appearance of the plate of octopus and Ayrshire new potatoes. And we swooned at our main courses of a hefty pavé of spanking fresh turbot with samphire, our amazingly de-shelled but left whole, succulent North Berwick lobster and roast loin of Dornoch lamb, with its herb crust. Even better than the desserts was the £15-supplement cheese course, which introduced us to some novel but pungent French, Spanish and Sicilian cheeses in prime condition.

 

The Kitchin (www.thekitchin.com), run by chef Tom Kitchin and his wife, Michaela, has been in its waterfront location since 2006, and the noise-level problem has been solved since my previous visit, though there's still plenty of acoustically challenging polished wood in this stylish room, with its battleship gray walls. Service was terrific and smiling, even when I realized I had miscounted and booked a table for six when we were only five.

 

Even as I write this, looking at the menu makes me hungry, for it abounds in local produce, earthy and appealing. Scotland is a country blessed with glorious ingredients, but formerly damned by the inability of their cooks to use them properly. No longer. We relished our razor clams ("spoots" in Scottish dialect) from Arisaig, cooked with the Spanish touch of chorizo; hand-dived Orkney scallops; roasted bone marrow with Devon snails and generously scattered Perthshire girolles; an unrecognizable circle of boned and rolled pig's head accompanied by roasted langoustine from Anstruther and a crunchy salad of shredded pig's ear; and the brilliantly conceived disk of foie-gras-cum-haggis, neeps and tatties. Main courses included more Dornoch lamb, wild sea bass from Usan, turbot from Scrabster and grouse from the Scottish moors. The inspired wine waiter approved my choice of a terrific young Grüner Veltliner, but vetoed my Pinot Noir in favor of a less expensive but better structured Corbières. In every respect, this was a meal worth a Michelin star—even in the old days, when that award really meant something.

 

Neither Wishart nor Kitchin had salt and pepper on the table. But in those places, their absence didn't seem pretentious, as it did in the third one-star eatery, Plumed Horse (www.plumedhorse.co.uk)—for here both the bread and the grilse (young salmon) were undersalted to my taste. On two levels, the oddly shaped room is sweetly decorated with a mixture of good and bad pictures, leather chairs and not very many tables. As they don't turn their tables, they'll ask for a credit-card guarantee when taking your reservation, but front of house Ian Bruce made no fuss when I fessed up to having booked for one too many diners.

 

Chef/proprietor Tony Borthwick's three-course menu is now £49, and also relies on locally sourced ingredients. It included tartare of veal with a summer-truffle salad that was, surprisingly (because summer truffles, of which Scotland has tons, are usually boring), more interesting than the veal; a terrific millefeuille of crab and langoustine, with a frightening-sounding, but delicious and well-judged, passion-fruit mayonnaise and crushed pineapple garnish; and the main courses were the roast grilse, which was a little overcooked for me; a grand dish of really fresh wild sea bream and red mullet, with slightly too doughy fennel gnocchi and tiny Solway brown shrimps; and a hearty dish of Landrace pork belly and loin. From an interesting wine list, we chose an excellent, fairly-priced, just off-dry Gaudrelle Vouvray. The service was agreeable, but miles away from either of the other restaurants; and as the standard of cooking (though not the bill) was so much lower than at the other two, you have to question whether the Michelin men know what they're doing. If Plumed Horse really is a one-star, then Wishart is three-star and Kitchin at least two. Strangely enough, the recently published "Good Food Guide 2011," with its reader-contributors, is more accurate than Michelin. Wishart gets 8/10 points, Kitchin 7 (and these two are listed in the table of the top 60 restaurants in the U.K.) and Plumed Horse only 5.

 

Note that, unlike London, most Edinburgh restaurants do not add a service charge to the bill—some don't even leave a space for the tip on the credit card slip; so take some cash with you.

 

WSJ

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  • 2 years later...

Globe and Mail offers more dining suggestions

 

 

Much of the excitement in Scottish cooking right now is happening in and around the capital of Edinburgh. Restaurants such as Cafe St Honoré (cafesthonore.com), located in the heart of the city, are baking fresh bread in-house, butchering whole animals, working closely with local hunters and foragers and even growing their own vegetables. Its chef, Neil Forbes, translates Scottish ingredients through French techniques. He might serve locally smoked trout and “organic Highland crowdie” (a type of soft cheese made, despite its name, in the Scottish Lowlands) with toasted oats or pair Scotch beef with creamy dauphinoise potatoes and local chanterelles.

Young chefs like Ben Radford, the 28-year-old who presides over the kitchen at Timberyard (timberyard.co), a rambling former warehouse with several dining rooms and its own garden, are no longer heading to London, Paris or Copenhagen to make their names. A second-generation restaurateur, Radford and his whole family are involved in the restaurant. Growing up around professional kitchens gave the chef a front-row seat on the local food scene, and he’s watched it change dramatically. “Edinburgh is quite a traditional city,” he says. “Michelin has always been a big part of the dining scene and a lot of restaurants aspire to that. As a result, there weren’t a lot of people trying to push the boundaries, but, more and more, that’s starting to happen. There’s all these new edgy, slightly rock ‘n’ roll restaurants.”

One of the most celebrated of them is the Gardener’s Cottage (thegardenerscottage.co), located in a charming, domestic building dating to the mid-19th century that was once exactly what its name suggests. Business partners and co-chefs Edward Murray and Dale Mailley serve set six- and seven-course meals to diners who sit at communal tables, a radical innovation for Edinburgh.

 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/food-and-wine/food-trends/4-top-tables-where-to-dine-in-edinburgh-now/article14091624/

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Gardener's Cottage sounds twee. Timberyard (if I remember correctly) is in a gentrified part of town....used to be shite down there. God, I miss the old Edinburgh....

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  • 7 months later...

 

Our kids have gifted us with a lunch at The Kitchin, as a thank you for being such stellar grandparents.

We have reservations for June 17th.

 

Can't wait.....

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  • 1 year later...
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What area of Edinburgh would be best to stay in for a shortish trip (perhaps 4 nights)?

hotel or apt? old town and new town are easiest to return to after a pub crawl. as neighborhoods, go leith and morningside are my faves but stockbridge has more stuff to do

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What area of Edinburgh would be best to stay in for a shortish trip (perhaps 4 nights)?

hotel or apt? old town and new town are easiest to return to after a pub crawl. as neighborhoods, go leith and morningside are my faves but stockbridge has more stuff to do

 

Hotel. The last time I was in Edinburgh was ages ago and I was staying outside of the center of town and don't want to do that this time. So no Leith methinks.

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What area of Edinburgh would be best to stay in for a shortish trip (perhaps 4 nights)?

hotel or apt? old town and new town are easiest to return to after a pub crawl. as neighborhoods, go leith and morningside are my faves but stockbridge has more stuff to do

 

Hotel. The last time I was in Edinburgh was ages ago and I was staying outside of the center of town and don't want to do that this time. So no Leith methinks.

 

old town / new town, then. there are some nice new boutique hotels that have opened since i was last there. new town will be kinder to your fancy shoes.

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The two best hotels when I was there about five years ago (under common ownership) were the Glass House in New Town (where I stayed) and the Scotsman in Old Town (where I wish I'd stayed). (Don't get me wrong -- the Glass House was really nice. But the Scotsman seemed really appealing-- and better located.)

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The two best hotels when I was there about five years ago (under common ownership) were the Glass House in New Town (where I stayed) and the Scotsman in Old Town (where I wish I'd stayed). (Don't get me wrong -- the Glass House was really nice. But the Scotsman seemed really appealing-- and better located.)

the scotsman is a different group from the glasshouse. the scotsman is in a great location with terrific views.

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