Edinburgh

A Tuk Tuk In Edinburgh?

No, not an actual 3 wheeled tuk-tuk, a restaurant called Tuk Tuk. Although I’d love to see tuk-tuks going about Edinburgh streets. Someone should make this happen, this would be sensational as a wedding car. Anyway, back to Tuk Tuk the restaurant. We visited for lunch after watching the Commonwealth diving and by the time we arrived we were more than ready for a curry. The restaurant is right opposite the Kings Theatre so I am sure that it fills up pretty quickly around 5pm so we wanted to get in early. First impressions were good – modern, colourful decor with funky lighting.

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They have a BYOB policy for beer and wine but we stuck to soft drinks at lunch. For a casual restaurant I love the idea of BYOB and it would be ideal for larger groups not wanting to worry about how big the bill is getting. Since we were not drinking, I took it as an opportunity to try Thums Up ‘the cola of Bombay’. Coca-cola have conditioned me to think of their flavour as normal and any other coke as abnormal but I love a Barr’s every so often so thought I’d give this a go. I liked it and it reminded me of Barr’s.

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We did not know how many dishes to order as it is tapas style so the waiter helped us choose seven dishes plus rice and naan between the two of us.

We were told that everything might not arrive together and asked if that was okay. The quicker dishes start coming, the better in my opinion. The Bengali fish cakes (£4.95) were first to the table which boded well as they were a starter kind of option. I thought these were great and reminded me of little fish balls that we ate in The Maldives. The sauce was kind of minty and I would never normally put mint with fish, but with the spice going through the cakes it worked.

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The channa puri (£4.85) was delivered at the same time and we were also really happy with this dish. This is a dish that I like to order as a starter when out for a curry and Tuk Tuk do a fine example of it. It was creamy & rich but not cloying, and the fried bread was crispy enough to scoop the chickpeas into your mouth.

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Chicken 69 (£4.75) was the third pick – described as mouth watering chicken nuggets, an Indo-Chinese delicacy. On appearance it reminded me of something that you’d pick up from a takeaway and not big nuggets of chicken as we had expected. I didn’t enjoy the taste either. My tastebuds couldn’t work out what the flavours were and I could just taste a kind of sour taste. Maybe others like it but it was not for us.

left - chicken 69, red pan - lamb station curry, right - staff curry

left – chicken 69, red pan – lamb station curry, right – staff curry

The garlic naan (£2.20) that had now arrived was far more pleasing. It was thinner than a conventional naan bread, so was not as stodgy, and the garlic butteriness just right. We ended up trying the cheese naan too and it was also great. The cheese was sandwiched inside the dough and there wasn’t an overkill of cheese.

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My sister in-law always picks a lentil dish when we eat curry and I pick a meat dish but the tapas style eating at Tuk Tuk afforded me both. Daal Makhni (£4.95) is slow cooked lentils and kidney beans so they go kind of creamy and then are mixed with spices. Mr S had to sit this one out because of his nut allergy but I wanted to try it because the guy recommended it. I couldn’t eat the whole thing – definitely one for sharing – but it is a good dish for scooping up with naan. I will pass on the recommendation to my sister in-law for next time she’s in the ‘burgh.

 

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Our three meaty curry dishes chosen were railway station lamb curry (£5.20), lamb rarah (£5.25) and tuktuk wallah staff curry (£4.90). There’s always a favourite curry that you all end up using to dip your naan into and the staff curry won that award. The chicken was moist and it had a deep aromatic piquancy without being too hot. I’d absolutely go back for one of these with naan and daal makhni for lunch.

 

The two lamb curries both had meat on the bone to pick off. In fact, all of our meat dishes were on the bone. That was an ordering rookie mistake from us because it was a lot of picking. We were probably just being lazy – usually we like meat on the bone because we know how much rich meaty flavour it adds. Anyway, on first appearances there was not much meat but we realised that you just have to get right in there with those bones.

The lamb rarah turned out to be a bit too spicy for me but Mr S liked it. The railway station curry was slightly milder but I could not pick out the individual tastes except from spinach.

 

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Due to the bring your own bottle policy, dinner at Tuk Tuk would only cost about £20 per head for a feast. That is pretty impressive and ideal being opposite the Kings Theatre. I thought that portion size was just right for sharing and price charged. As I said before, I’d suggest the staff curry and daal makhni with some naan but I’d like to further investigate the other dishes. Give the chicken 69 a miss and try something traditional.

 

Tuk Tuk Indian Street Food on Urbanspoon

 

I was invited to the restaurant for a complimentary meal. As always my views and opinions are my own.

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Edinburgh Foodies Festival

On Sunday we nursed our hangovers in a rather novel way. We went to a Foodies Festival in the rain! The atmosphere on the train through to Edinburgh was not very upbeat and I was starting to worry how we’d all get through the day. But it turns out that it was the perfect cure for us – food, fresh air and whisky samples.

We had checked the weather beforehand and it was rain and more rain so wellies and trainers were dug out. I felt like I was back at Rockness using the portaloos in my wellies. Except that they were posh portaloos that flushed and I had actually showered that morning.

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Typically Scottish weather!

Our plan formulated on the train was to walk around the whole thing and then we would start eating and buying things. We stuck to the plan for all of ten minutes after reading the menu at Mark Greenaway’s Bistro Moderne – the tempura soft shell crab had to be mine. It was hands down the best cooking that I have ever had at an outside venue and it has made me want to go to Bistro Moderne – success for both sides.

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We visited the Top Out Brewery stall and found that beer and soft shell crab actually taste good together. An edinburgh company, they have only been brewing for a little over a year but are growing all the time. Expect to see their beers in shops more and more over the next year.

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After catching a bit of Stephen K Amos from Celebrity Masterchef at the chefs theatre we wandered from stall to stall. There was a big selection of mainly Scottish producers and produce varied from oils to seafood, whisky to peanut butter marshmallows. Safe to say we were enjoying ourselves.

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As we were walking round we were taken in by the smell of meat from The Pantry so we stopped to share a roll. Not any roll, this was a Thistly Cross cider braised pork shoulder, red turnip slaw, apple & thyme sauce with a whisky & barbeque sauce roll… drooling as I write about it.

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Back to the chefs theatre because I wanted to see Adam Handling from Masterchef. Clearly passionate about his food, a great guy to watch and I would love to dine in his restaurant.

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There was a champagne tent so we had a couple of Strawberry Bellini’s whilst chatting to the folk at the Discover The Origin tent. Discover the Origin are trying to raise awareness of five key European products: Bourgogne wines, Parma ham, Douro wines, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and port. I’m a believer that you can tell the difference when it comes to cured meat and this Parma ham was delicious. I also loved that they were serving the Parmigiano out of the shell and letting you compare the flavours of different maturities. They don’t even charge you as it is a big campaign to raise awareness.

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Moreover, because there was four of us on the day, we could buy one food item and share it so that we had the opportunity to taste more producers food. The gents were angling for more food and I honestly have never seen them as happy as when they spotted the Gaucho BBQ. Meat on the bone, barbequed and smoky – they were in dream land.

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There were plenty of drinks companies to keep us entertained too. Lots of craft beer, gins, whisky, wine and cocktails. The Riot Bar provided much needed shelter from the downpour and there was also a sheltered eating area but I’d love if they made this bigger for next year.

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The live entertainment stage provided some tunes to bob your head along to whilst munching and shopping.

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I have to mention my personal favourite stall of the day – Goya 23. Iberico ham on the bone coupled with quality red wine, all served by a friendly and knowledgeable gentleman. After listening to much chat from us self-confessed pork obsessives, he even gave us some free samples of the other meats he had.

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Shopping wise I seemed to have an oil obsession on the day because I came home with three oil themed items. Summer Harvest is a company based in Perthshire that turns the bright yellow fields into gorgeous rapeseed oil products. We first came across them at the foodie day at Hamilton Races and now I keep an eye out for their stuff. This time I bought a garlic mayonnaise (proper yellow fresh mayo to eat asap… yes I’ve started) and a chilli & red pepper salad dressing to liven up our Autumn meals. Then I saw the Supernature stall, which is also rapeseed oils and Scottish. Based in the Lothians, they are all about coldpressing rapeseed oil so I got a bottle of the garlic one after extensive tasting on the day of every flavour.

As you can probably tell, we had a grand old time. Mr S even said to me that he wishes they would have this every month – he was extremely impressed. It is a yearly event so we will be getting tickets for next year without a doubt. I think that this sort of event would really work in Glasgow too, and I would love to see it there next year with some of my favourite local producers and food-to-go places from the West coast.

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3 sisters bake

3 sisters bake

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fresh coconut water

fresh coconut water

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Foodies Festival sent us complimentary tickets for the event so that I could be an official blogger for them. As usual, all opinions are my own and honest.

Scran and Scallie

I’ve had The Kitchin restaurant in Edinburgh at the top of my most wanted list for a long time. They have a long waiting list (I’m not the best planner that far in advance) and it would need to be saved for a special occasion so we have not made it yet. Then I heard about The Scran & Scallie, a gastropub in Edinburgh owned by Tom Kitchin & Dominic Jack. They do not accept reservations so there was no real planning required except from getting there before peak dining time because I’d heard that they fill up pretty quickly.

There are a lot of 30th birthday celebrations going on this year and this was one of them. Therefore we arrived in Edinburgh later than planned as we took a gin and tonic detour! To set us up for the walk to Stockbridge we nipped into Harvey Nichols fourth floor Window Bar to enjoy a cocktail with that amazing view.

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It took us about half an hour to walk to Stockbridge but I enjoy looking at all of the old buildings and indulging in a bit of house lust. We arrived about 4.30pm but we were told that they don’t start serving food until 5pm (they also serve lunch earlier) so we could sit and have a drink until service starts. The bar area is quite small and appears to be more for people having a drink waiting for tables than an actual bar.

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Williams Bros £1.95 & Orkney IPA £2.50 (half pints)

Tables have to be back in an hour and a half in the restaurant area. To me The Scran & Scallie is not a pub because in a pub that does food they usually serve meals all day, you’d wouldn’t be told to give the table back so soon on a Wednesday and there would be more people using it as a boozer. It felt more like a restaurant. Not a problem but that is how it appeared to me. If we had arrived an hour earlier I would have been annoyed that the website did not state the food service times and table back policy. We’d come all the way from Glasgow for it- the least they can do in return is be upfront. That is not to take away from the place because the decor and feel of it is a delightful mix of Scottish and Scandinavian with simple furnishings and lots of wood. I really enjoyed our visit.

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Warm bread arrived in a mini sack and I had soon forgotten about our table wait.

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Their whole ethos is ‘from nature to plate’ so I knew that the squat lobster ravioli with asparagus would be freshly made. The three ravioli were in a creamy but fresh sauce and the asparagus was fantastic with it.

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Ox tongue on toast should be the new comfort food, it certainly ticks the rich and satisfying boxes. The bone marrow continued the theme with its jellied meatiness. And the egg, I’m not sure it was even needed, but I never question a soft egg on my plate. Especially a flavoursome, proper farm egg.

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Steak pie, hogget, steak pie, hogget? Choices, choices. I really wanted the ham and chips but I didn’t want us to order the same main. I had never tried hogget before so I didn’t want to pass up an opportunity. It is a slow cooked meat and had an even softer texture than lamb shank. Darker in colour, it is more intense than meat from a younger sheep. To be honest, I found it too strong in flavour for me. I liked the peas surrounding it but felt that some mash would not have gone amiss. I ordered a side of potatoes as well but they did not really match up with the dish and just notched the already expensive (£19) price up.

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The ham, egg and chips came with a side of contented silence. The presentation got top marks from us, the taste of the ham also got top marks. The homemade pineapple salsa is something that we’ve tried to recreate since but have never managed to get it exactly correct. In my opinion the egg did not need the breadcrumbs but that’s being pernickity. I hope that this dish never comes off the menu.

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As I mentioned before, the hogget was rich and I couldn’t manage the whole thing so took it home with me to give to Mr S. Bar my vaccum packed steak at Chez Bruce, it was the fanciest looking doggy bag I’d had.

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Apple crumble came with its own jug of custard. Great balance ratio of fruit to crumble with a slight crunch on top.

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I chose lemon curd and meringue & it came in an elegant champagne coupe. It was a cross between a lemon posset and lemon curd with a layer of biscuity crumble and then delicate piped meringues sitting on top. Lovely.

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It is undeniable that I was impressed by The Scran & Scallie. The food was all of a high standard and the presentation impressive. I still feel slightly confused by the marketing but maybe that’s just me. I won’t be back for three courses because I felt rushed at the end but the ham, egg and chips warrants a second visit.

The Scran & Scallie on Urbanspoon

prices: starters £9

mains £18/19

desserts £5.50/5.75

Heavenly Food At Passorn

Sawadee Ka!

I’ve recently done a post on our ladies weekend in Edinburgh but I decided that Passorn deserved their own post – the presentation was too good to only show a couple of photos.

 

I have eaten in a restaurant in the West End of Edinburgh once before & My Big Fat Greek Kitchen suitably impressed me. So when I was surprised with another visit to the area recently I had high hopes. This time it was to visit Passorn – a Thai restaurant that my mum had scouted out.

 

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We ordered three starters between five of us and we loved the presentation of everything served. Aob Chey was the first of the starters to arrive and this is thai chicken satay skewers. The chicken had a chargrilled effect and the peanut sauce really was heavenly. The cucumber sauce provided a sharper, cleaner option after the creamy peanut.

 

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The beef tenderloin salad was bursting with taste. The mint, kaffir lime and lemongrass provided freshness to cut through rich tamarind & chillies.

 

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The Puan Kan – Bangkok fish cakes – were delicately spiced and had just enough red chilli heat. We enjoyed the prawn cake & the fish cake, and the kaffir lime through them was a big hit.

 

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Pla Ma Now is a seabass dish with red chilli, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime and lime juice. The delicate fish just about held its own with the other ingredients and this dish had quite a kick. I think this was my favourite main course.

 

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The first of our stir-fry type dishes was Pad Med Hinmapan. We loved the cashews in this wok dish. The spring onion and peppers were tossed in the sauce of chilli and thai sweet basil with chicken.

 

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My choice of red thai curry with chicken is the nicest red thai curry that I’ve tasted, ever. The spicy and rich flavours smacked you in the face whilst the creaminess calmed it down. I loved it.

 

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I can guarantee that my mum will almost always pick a stir-fry style dish with garlic and ginger in a thai restaurant and her selection this time was Gratium Prig Tai. Alongside garlic and ginger, they had used black pepper and coriander to season the chicken.

 

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Pad Thai was full of nuttiness and came with chilli flakes and crushed nuts on the side. The chicken was moist and beansprouts provided crunch for the dish.

 

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Too stuffed for dessert, we went for cocktails instead. The fruity combos were cold and refreshing.

 

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My parents are big fans of Thai food so when I go for Thai it tends to be with them. I’ll be making an exception for Passorn though, and visiting again soon with whoever happens to be with me in Edinburgh.

 

 

Price range: Starters £5.60 – £8.50, main courses £11.25 – £19.50, house wine £15.45 (bottle)

 

Passorn Thai on Urbanspoon

Edinburgh: A Ladies Weekend

For my thirtieth birthday this year I had a few celebrations. I spent my actual birthday in London, then headed up to Inverness then back to Glasgow for more mini celebrations. Finally, a few weeks later, some of the Mackenzie ladies in the family went to Edinburgh for the weekend. Sticking with our surprise birthday tradition, I knew nothing about what we were doing. This made it exciting but my inner planner was going mad!

We met at the train station & got a taxi to a mystery hotel. When we arrived I found out that we were staying in the Marriott Hotel in Corstophine, which is near the airport. The location was near the zoo so it made sense for us. If you are staying here then Haymarket is closer than Waverley – about 10-15 minutes in a taxi. Staying in a Marriott meant that we had the luxury of a swimming pool with spa facilities. We arrived late evening on the Friday so went straight down for a swim, sauna, steam room & jacuzzi before a gin to begin our relaxing weekend. The bed was comfy with nice bedding and we all slept soundly.

The next morning we went down for the buffet breakfast after a quick swim. There was a great selection and fresh food was constantly being put out but the thing that we noticed most was the service. Our waiter (I wish I could remember his name) was friendly, jokey and spent time having a chat with you. I find that sometimes in a big hotel they lack personal service so it was terrific to see a member of staff giving the personal touch. Just as important, the link sausages were of a good standard (everyone has their bugbears & grisly, fatty sausages is mine).

 

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At breakfast I was told that we were spending the day at the nearby Edinburgh Zoo complete with a visit to the pandas. Edinburgh Zoo is in my top 5 days out in Scotland without a doubt. I try to go at least once a year but last year the panda visiting area was closed so I had not seen them yet.

 

Tian Tian

Tian Tian

 

I have previously done a post on the Zoo so won’t repeat any information except that it is a great place to go.

 

My personal favourites - the meercats

My personal favourites – the meercats

 

We squeezed in another quick swim and sauna before getting ready for dinner. Again I did not know where we were going but it turned out to be Passorn, which is a Thai restaurant on Brougham Place in the West End. I’ve done a separate post on Passorn but I’d recommend it.

What did we do in the morning? Swim, of course. If there was a competition on how many times you can use a hotel swimming pool in two nights we would have done pretty well.

After all of that pampering we checked out before making our way into the city centre. There was some wandering around the shops before a cocktail at Harvey Nichols 4th floor cocktail bar. What a view – try to go at quiet times to get a window seat.

 

 

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We ended our girly weekend with afternoon tea at The Dome. Decadent at it’s best, this was one not to be missed. The building itself is grand (loved the toilets-bottom photo) and the food was of an extremely high standard.

Getting macaroons always improves afternoon tea for me but all of the cakes were moreish.

 

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I bid them farewell at the train station then continued with the 30th theme with one of my oldest friends whose birthday is 10 days after mine. Eilidh suggested a cocktail at The Balmoral and who was I to say no? We badly needed a long catch-up & we were joining the 30’s club after all.

 

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I’d never been to any of the places we visited (bar the zoo) and each one was a success. My favourite part of the weekend was spending time with the ladies but Edinburgh came a close second.

Tea Etiquette At Eteaket

I popped through to Edinburgh last month to meet a friend and we ended up at Eteaket for lunch. It’s a modern tearoom on Frederick Street and they also sell their own branded tea.
We both chose the high tea, which consisted of half a sandwich with a fruit scone, a little cake and a tea of your choice. It was nice to see this because sometimes afternoon tea is just too much food.
As we waited for our choices we couldn’t help notice how busy the place was. The door was opening non-stop with people coming in for tables and some groups were turned away because they did not have the capacity to accept them.

 

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The tea menu has a whopping 47 choices that include black, white, green, oolong, rooibos, fruit, herbal, chai and flowering teas. We chose the silver needle white tea (white won a great taste award 2012) and a cranberry apple fruit tea. Each one comes in its own teapot with a brew timer for the perfect strength. The tea leaves are in a removable basket so, once your timer is up, you lift the leaves out to stop it gaining strength. I have never seen strainer baskets like that before and I was tempted to buy one on our way out.

 

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Our lunch arrived fairly quickly and our sandwiches were on soft bread with lots of filling. There was a big fruit scone and a mini fruit tart. The scone came with a pot of jam and a pot of clotted cream but could have done with being a bit softer.

 

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We sat with our tea for an hour chatting away until the rain stopped. After a quick browse around their tea related products for sale, we walked towards Stockbridge market. It is just a small market but had a good selection of fish, meat, fruit & veg and so on, as well as stalls selling street food.

 

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I’ve never been to Stockbridge so we wandered through the streets and I spotted The Scran & Scallie – Tom Kitchin’s pub that is on my to do list. Hopefully I’ll be writing about The Scran & Scallie sometime this year. I’m making my way around Edinburgh!

 

Eteaket on Urbanspoon