meat

Carnivore Club Champions Scottish Charcuterie 


If you’ve been reading for a while then you’ll know that I love meat, I love local and I love trying new things. So when I was emailed by a company that send you boxes of Artisan British charcuterie it immediately piqued my interest. Each month uses a different charcuterie company and this months box contained meat from a Highland business called Great Glen Charcuterie. 



Great Glen Charcuterie are based in Roybridge, which is down Spean Bridge/ Fortwilliam way. I’d heard of them and been wanting to try their meat so this was a great taster box. They specialise in charcuterie using wild Scottish venison that they make by hand and air dry. 


The Carnivore Club is essentially an online company that send you meat. They use different British charcuterie companies every month so that you can try meat from smaller companies that you might not have heard of. Good for small businesses to get the word out. You can order a box as a one-off for a gift or start a monthly/bi-monthly/quarterly subscription. 
Perfect timing as it’s much easier for us to have a nice dinner in than out right now with a little baby. 

It arrived by courier and the meat was encased in a sturdy gift box. Inside there was a leaflet with information about the box and serving suggestions and five different products to try: two salamis, two chorizos and a venison bresaola. The aforementioned were venison pork salami, green peppercorn salami, chili venison chorizo & venison and pork chorizo. 

The first meat that we tried was the pork & venison chorizo. We used it in place of bacon on treat night in a creamy seafood pasta… delicious! We then used the venison and pork chorizo in place of our regular chorizo in our affectionately named ‘sexy pasta’ that uses roasted Mediterranean veg and herbs. Again, it was lovely. We liked both of the products and the only thing we found was that the chorizos weren’t as oily or paprika-y as normal chorizo so adjust recipes accordingly. 

The salamis are rich and tasty, a fantastic addition to an antipasti board alongside cheese, olives and proscuitto. 
The bresaola is being kept until date night because it is the one we are looking forward to the most. I’ll be doing it the traditional way with rocket and shaved Parmesan on top of the slices then drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over it. 

I thought that the box was good value. It’s £29 if you subscribe and £32 for a one-off and if my maths were right the box had £27.41 worth of products (not to mention the nice gift box) plus Great Glen charge £4.95 delivery so you’re making a saving. Since getting the box I’ve spotted Great Glen charcuterie at The Storehouse & Corner on the Square and they are (obviously) a little more expensive than buying direct so The Carnivore Club are competitive price wise. 

To get it every month you’d have to be a true carnivore, I would say that I am more on the bi-monthly part of the scale. The boxes are compiled using British companies & I hope to see and try more Scottish charcuterie in the future as I like to support local. 
We have friends scattered all over the UK and I’m constantly wracking my brain over what to buy them as gifts that are easy to send but still special so this will really help me out. It’s also a nice idea for new parents who might not go out for a while so that they can treat themselves at home.
I can be somewhat sceptical about these subscription services that send you things because I don’t always feel that they are good value for money but I can honestly say that the box I was sent by the Carnivore Club felt like it was. I’ve seen photos online of another box and it also looked like you got your money’s worth. A nice way to spend some disposable income on or to gift someone. Just not to a vegetarian! 

 

N.B The Carnivore Club kindly sent me a box to try. There was no pressure to be nice about it so I just gave my honest opinion. Im very selective about what I write about so research anyone who contacts me first. I’m actually about to order another box! 
This content has also been posted on my sister blog Highland Foodie 

Advertisements

Alston – Full Of Memories

Early memories of going out for dinner usually involved mon pere ordering steak. Regardless of what else was on the menu, he chose it because going out was a treat and steak was a rarity at home. Ever since then, a slab of beef to me is synonymous with happy family times. Nowadays I take my meat much pinker but the same principle stands thus why we chose steak for a certain birthday meal. Glasgow has some pretty good steak restaurants now – The Butchershop, Grill On The Corner and The Grill Room are three examples of this. There’s always room for one more to join the party, and one did.

IMG_7166.JPG

Alston literally popped up in the basement of Central Station where you’d least expect it. The doorway is easy to miss – go in the main entrance to the station and Gordon St Coffee is on the left and its a single door after that as you’re walking into the station. With some clever decor and lighting the space feels nothing like a dingy basement and more like an explorers cave. I don’t much like the televisions displaying train times but I understand their importance to some. When you enter the cave you are facing the kitchens pass area so get some wonderful meaty smells and sights. Through to the bar area with its gorgeous lights then to the tunnel shaped dining room. What a pretty place and I found myself excited by dining in a venue that was slightly unusual.

IMG_7178.JPG

There’s something a bit 1920’s about the place but I can’t put my finger on it. Alston is actually named after Alston Street in Grahamston in Glasgow. The street is long gone but they can carry the name forward. My cocktail choice was the 1873, named after Alston Street’s last year in existence. Caorunn gin, St Germain & blueberry jam sold it to me in an instant and it was as delicious as it sounds. They had Sam Adams too so Mr A was happy.

Menu-wise they have a lunch and pre-theatre menu with two courses for £12 (£3 steak supplement) or three for £15. Buoyed by the birthday celebrations we were eating from the main menu. A quick look online beforehand led us to having the porterhouse to share.

Since we were going big on mains we didn’t want to spoil our appetites with starters so opted for a tin of bread with butter to see us through. The bread was unexpectedly more than worthy of a paragraph. It didn’t arrive immediately – often a good sign – and when it did it was warm (contented sigh). A knife was plunged through the middle and we dug in. There was a mini pan of oil & balsamic alongside soft butter so we alternated. At this point I’d like to say that soft butter is underrated in restaurants – little details like this say a lot to me about how hard they’re trying. Anyway, the bread was delicious. Really soft and fluffy on the inside with a nice crust.

IMG_7173.JPG

When it was time for our main course they took out Alston branded plates with a big quinelle of no-lump buttery mash. We had ordered sides of buttered greens and sautéed mushrooms, which appeared in little copper pans.

IMG_7186.JPG

Then the main event came out – a kilogram of 35 day dry aged porterhouse cooked medium rare. If you get as confused as me about steak names, a porterhouse has a bone down the middle with fillet steak on one side and strip sirloin steak on the other. Negative out of the way first – it was served medium and not medium rare. It didn’t matter too much because the beef that was in front of us was full of flavour and ranked up there with our best steaks.

IMG_7185.JPG

A bit of the meat combined with those buttery mushrooms and mash was heaven. I’d ordered béarnaise and Mr A had chosen pepper sauce but we barely used them. It’s worth noting that the other sauces were buttery numbers and the sides were all rather buttery so I wouldn’t go for them.
Mr A was raving about the mushrooms and I loved the buttered greens (broccoli, green beans and leeks if you’re wondering).

IMG_7188.JPG

Alongside our chunk of meat we had a glass of wine each. The Cotes Du Rhone had more depth than the Malbec so skip the former if you’re having red meat. There were no wine descriptions on the menu and the restaurant filled up all at once so the staff can’t be expected to describe every one at busy periods.

Desserts were completely out the door after that main course so we had coffee – cute cups.

IMG_7190.JPG

The toilets were another plus point – nice decor, powerful hand dryers and good lighting. It took me a minute to figure out which one to go into as the signage is stag & deer heads – am I the only one that prefers a normal sign? Especially after a few drinks!

The meal was a huge birthday success and Alston goes on to my recommended list. I’m sure my dad will be there in no time.

Meaty Mains At Meatbar

As I’ve said previously, the first time I visit a restaurant I am always full of hope – I want to enjoy it, have a new favourite and I’m willing them on to deliver the goods. On my second visit I am crossing my fingers that it wasn’t just a one-off and that I’m as happy as I was the last time that I left. I suppose it’s a bit like looking for a house though because the first viewing is all excitement and the second one is still excitement but also about practicality & checking other things.

With that said, last month Mr S & I returned to Meat Bar one rainy night after work because we had been hankering after the French Dip ever since. We snagged a booth again so we were off to a comfy start.

 

This time we also opted for starters as they all sounded as good as the main courses. We had the pit-smoked bourbon chicken wings with BBQ sauce and the crispy pig’s cheeks with piccalilli style veg. The chicken wings were – dare I say it – perfect chicken wings. They were meaty and tasty and the sauce had a lovely BBQ tang – definitely one that we would order again.

 

IMG_0698Wings £5

 

When I was choosing my starter I asked about the pig’s cheek and he described it to me as little cakes so I knew what to expect but I think the menu could do with some clarification on this. I thought the starter was nice but it just did not really do it for me. There wasn’t a lack of flavour or anything – I just was not crazy about the dish. I think I would have preferred the meat to take centre stage but the spices and piccalilli veg took over on the taste scale.

 

IMG_0699

Crispy Pigs Cheeks £5.50

 

This time for main course we sampled the classic beef grinder burger (£7 + £1 for cheese) and the french dip smokehouse sandwich (£9). The french dip sandwich was as it was the first time – tender brisket beef with those onions – just delicious. I like that the bone marrow gravy comes on the side so that I can add as much or as little as I want. The only downside was that last time I am sure that the bun was toasted but this time it didn’t appear to be and it did affect the taste slightly as the bun couldn’t quite hold its own. Next time I will just make sure I ask for it to be toasted because I’m not sure if it is meant to be or not. The house slaw was as refreshing as last time and I’m glad that they serve it with this.

IMG_0702

 

I completely agree with James VS Burger that the classic beef grinder burger is a tasty patty indeed. We both thought that it was full of flavour and the gooey cheese (add on £1) was delicious in it. Next time I think we’d go the whole hog (no pun intended) and add the pulled pork too for an add on at £2. Another menu item that I would be happy to recommend to people and will order again.

IMG_0701

 

 

We chose the same sides as last time – the triple cooked fries & the dry rub crispy onion rings. The fries were crunchy on the outside & soft on the inside – excellent. The onion rings were not as good as last time but still nice. They were more in bits this time but last time they were big rings so I felt there was more crunch and outside rub than there was onion.

IMG_0703

 

We were incredibly full again after our main courses so went without dessert. I had meant to try one of the meaty cocktails this time but decided against it on a school night.

 

 

So after our second visit we were full, happy and looking forward to our third. There were a few niggles – when isn’t there – but nothing even remotely big enough to put me off going again. One day I will try a meaty cocktail, one day.

 

 

 

 

My First time At Meat Bar can be seen here

https://girlaroundglasgow.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/meat-bar-all-about-the-french-dip/

Meat Bar on Urbanspoon

Meat Bar – All About The French Dip

Glasgow is having a meaty year of it, with many new openings being centred around burgers and meat in general. My twitter is full of buzz about Burger Meats Bun, Smoak food, James VS Burger and, most recently, the imminent opening of Bread Meats Bread. During all of the madness, Meat Bar popped up on West Regent Street ready to feed the masses yet more meat. With their chunky wood and leathery interior, I was hoping that the eating was going to be as serious as the decor.

 

Exterior

Exterior

 

 

First things first, I’d like to explain that we were having a birthday meat weekend for Mr S after healthy eating all month. I am a complete carnivore and had really missed red meat. With my hangover, it had to be somewhere very very meaty and I had been wanting to try Meat Bar for a while so we wandered into town to fill our bellies. It’s a casual place so we didn’t need to dress up and would be good for a catch-up with friends.

 

The starters on the menu all sounded appetising but I just wanted a big burger and nothing to delay that! The rest of the menu is broken down into sections – sliders, smoker, smokehouse sandwiches, steaks and grinder burgers. There is an ample selection of sides including fries, coleslaw, veg and mac n cheese.

 

Unable to decide, Mr S asked our waiter for advice. He recommended the french dip smokehouse sandwich, which Mr S had been looking at anyway so that was decided. I went for the grinder burger and was pleased to see that they serve their burgers pink so that the flavour isn’t cooked out of them.

 

My grinder burger started with a paprika dusted pork and beef patty then had chorizo & manchego on top and was finished with tomato compote and pickle. It was a thick, pink burger in a brioche bun (tick) and very nice indeed. I also really liked the coleslaw that came with it and I wish that more places would invest more time and energy into homemade coleslaw. It provides a welcome break from all of that meat so that I can tackle the rest of the burger revitalised.

 

Grinder Burger £8

Grinder Burger £8

 

 

The french dip sandwich was described on the menu as a homemade ciabatta containing brisket beef, swiss cheese, grilled onions, wholegrain mustard, horseradish & silky marrow bone gravy. To me it was just a big hug of meat in a bun that could banish even the worst of hangovers. We kind of shared food but I really just wanted all of that sandwich. The burger was nice but the sandwich was far superior – the meat was tender and all of the flavours meshed into a big tasty bite.

 

French Dip Smokehouse Sandwich £9

French Dip Smokehouse Sandwich £9

 

We shared two sides – triple cooked fries and crispy dry rub onion rings. The fries were crispy and of a high quality. But it was the onion rings that stole the sides show with their soft insides and crisp, flavoursome outsides. Not like those oversized, undercooked and soggy batter ones that I see too often.

 

Triple Cooked Fries £3

Triple Cooked Fries £3

Crispy Dry Rub Onion Rings £3

Crispy Dry Rub Onion Rings £3

 

I ran out of wind and could not even finish my burger so there was no chance of dessert. Even if we did go for dessert, two out of the three offerings contained nuts and Mr S is allergic to nuts so he would have been left with little choice unfortunately. Going with the whole American style theme, I would love to see a sundae on the menu. Nothing too crazy but a salted caramel brownie concoction would bring a big smile to my face.

 

I can’t comment on the drinks because we went for coke but the meat cocktails sound interesting (yes, cocktails flavoured with meat) and I’m sure that next time won’t be such a sober affair.

 

 

 

Meat Bar on Urbanspoon

Get Me To The Greek

Although I eat out regularly, I never randomly pick places. I don’t want to waste my money or have an unsatisfactory experience & I’m passionate about finding the best places to go. I try to minimise my chances of a shoddy meal by lots of online research and asking friends where they have been.

On my home turf in Glasgow I roughly know where to go but Edinburgh always poses so many questions for me. Ideally I usually want to eat near-ish to Haymarket or Waverley but can’t seem to find many places in this area and everything seems so spaced out. I like Leith but it’s a bit of a trek to get to so, for this visit, I asked around all of my Edinburghians for a recommendation.

It came in the shape of My Big Fat Greek Kitchen, which is not near to either of the train stations but I liked the name. It is in Tollcross (so I’m told) on Broughton Street and after seeing how many restaurants are up here I am convinced that they built the train stations in the wrong locations!

Image

After a brisk 30 minute walk from Waverley (we may have got a bit lost) we arrived at this small restaurant and were greeted by a lovely lady who I suspect is the owner. Trying to be Sociable Sally’s we ordered the triple dips with bread. This consisted of humous, tzatziki and pantzarosalata – the latter being a new one to me but I soon found out that it was a pleasant beetroot dip. The humous was particularly tasty and obviously contained a good quality olive oil.

For mains the Greek staple Kotopoulo was ordered by the chicken lovers at the table. The chargrilled kebabs arrived with a big pile of rice, some salad & tzatziki. Chicken was perfectly cooked and both of them enjoyed the dish but one did comment that the rice was a little al dente.

Image

Mr S & I went for the meat platter to share so that we could try as much as possible. It arrived piled high (the photo does not do it justice) with chargrilled chicken, spicy sausages, pork loin and meatballs accompanied by tzatziki, pitta, chips (which you could swap for rice) and salad. The sausage was a bit too spicy for me but Mr S loved it and we both enjoyed the rest of this meat overload. With so much food you would expect it to be more expensive but it was only £28.50 so £14.25 per person. The Kotopoulo was £13.95 so the meat platter was definite value for money.

Image

We skipped dessert in favour of going for drinks but it was nice to see that the dessert list was slightly more varied than most Greek restaurants I have visited. The My Big Fat Greek Kitchen selection will have to be sampled next time, that’s after I’ve tried the moussaka for my main.

It was the friendliness of the staff that stuck out above everything. My ever failing phone had run out of battery so I asked if I could charge it and they were helpful & courteous about it. In particular the lady who appeared to own it came across so warm and friendly. In a city that is confusingly full of restaurants, service like that will make the decision for you.