Tag Archives: Edinburgh

Timberyard Review

It’s been a while since we’ve done a restaurant review, and that’s not because we haven’t been eating out, more that general business and laziness has compromised our ability to keep our writing up with our eating! I’m going to put a stop to that and make a concerted effort to review my upcoming mouthfuls as there are some exciting ones on the cards. What’s more, it’s a fantastic way to keep a food diary. I love reading back on all the lovely meals I’ve enjoyed, even if no one else does!

So the object of my affections today is the lovely Timberyard in Edinburgh. Now I’ve been to Timberyard about four times, with a decent meal experienced every time, so heavens knows why I haven’t written a review yet. It’s a family run place on the cusp of the old and new town (although mainly in the old town near the Grassmarket). It takes up a rather unassuming slot on Lady Lawson Street but upon entering it opens up into the most unexpected, huge warehouse area. It has sympathetically maintained the character of the building’s industrial background but has brought in elements of the Scottish countryside with animal skins and skulls. The food has echoes of Scandinavia and the staff are achingly trendy. So trendy in fact that they have already got rid of their Hoxton beards – you can tell from the pale chins that have been left behind!

Timberyard

We were sat down right at the back, which was perfect for us to have a view of the entire dining room, and could just about peek into the wondrous kitchen. Nothing is normal at Timberyard so when inspecting the cocktail menu for an aperitif there were no familiar drinks and even a simple gin and tonic came with a bit of pine tree in it! I excitedly opted for a salty sea dog which I guess is a Timberyard take on a martini. It was my kind of drink – packed with lots of gin, vermouth and then salty elements provided by bladderwrack seaweed! It truly was out of this world – deep, musky and smoky, like a good whisky. Richard’s gin and tonic stumped us a bit. He opted for a beautiful Botanist, a dry gin made on the Isle of Islay (most famous for its peaty whisky). His ‘tonic’ came in a chemistry lesson style flask for him to add himself, which he duly did – all of it. He had a look of confusion when he took his first sip as it turned out the flask was filled with water instead of tonic. So essentially he had a nice big glass of gin, pine tree, and water! We wondered if this was the poncey way of drinking an Islay gin and no one had told us. But when the bill came it did say ‘tonic’ so we are still confused!

Timberyard Menu

Menus took a while to arrive which panicked us somewhat that we were automatically doing the 8 course tasting menu, something our stomachs wouldn’t have been able to comply with as we’d had a late lunch. We perused whilst munching on some of their warm and freshly baked sourdough. Not the best bread I’ve had but the bits you get to spread on are top notch. A choice of whipped crowdie, which is a sour cream cheese, or smoked bone marrow which was served in a bit of bone! The smoked marrow was my favourite, topped with piles of ground black pepper, mmmmm is all I can say!

Richard and I are probably becoming far too similar these days as out of the whole meal, for all three courses, we picked the same things. How it works at Timberyard is that the menu is split into small bites, starters, mains and desserts. Small bites are essentially a large canapé. We opted to have three courses of savoury as the desserts didn’t really float our boat.

Our small bite was an umami packed duck heart, liver and mushroom concoction. The duck heart was served savagely speared by a piece of yet more pine tree! I chewed into it like an offally lollipop. It was soft but meaty. Hidden beneath this was a mousse-like liver pate dusted with a cep powder for the ultimate umami hit. I was glad there was still some sourdough left to mop all of this up with. For a small bite it was certainly a generous portion.

Timberyard duck heart

Winewise we went for the L’indigene from Languedoc, a 2011 Syrah/ Grenache. It was very light and powerfully fruity so we thought it would be sympathetic to our upcoming fish and meat courses. A few glasses in and we suddenly noticed the sulphurous qualities of the wine. Upon reading the bottle our worst fears were confirmed – BIODYNAMIIC!! Those of you who read any of our Copenhagen reviews will recall the fall out we had with biodynamic wine which can often be very challenging and taste a bit ‘off.’ Anyway, prejudices aside this was actually an enjoyable wine but I could only have managed the one bottle! Is this why biodynamic wine exists do you think? To prevent binge drinking?!

Our fish course looked deceptively simple. A soft and creamy fillet of sole with all sorts of goodies including prawns, cockles and artichoke. It was full of different textures, some raw, some cooked. A very comforting dish that also felt strangely decadent.

Timberyard sole

Our final course was the smoked beef, which did not disappoint. The beef came in a thick slab and was so rare it was practically raw and yet a perfect temperature and texture. I didn’t get the smokiness if I’m honest. It was also quite a soft dish – succulent beef, rich gravy, cauliflower puree, mushrooms. It could have done with a crunchy texture, such as a chip, but that would make me a heathen in the food heaven that is Timberyard!

Timberyard beef

So I was full enough not to want a dessert, although I may have got a cheeky little pot of salted caramel ice cream from the shop opposite for the walk home! What I liked about this visit to Timberyard was that the meal was completely different to what I had last time as the menu is constantly changing. I’ve been going for about two years now and am not yet bored, in fact I am constantly surprised by what they produce. I can’t wait for next time!

 

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Gastronomic Glasgow

The lovely Scottish Highlands

The lovely Scottish Highlands

I’ve been off gallivanting round the beautiful Scottish highlands this past week, the North coast to be precise. Full of bleak, dramatic and breath-taking scenery all in one! It’s a fair old schlep up there from Leeds so we broke our journey home in the bustling metropolis of Glasgow for some on trend eating and drinking. I have to admit that I did expect Glasgow to be a bit more shiny and gleaming than it was, especially given that the Commonwealth Games take place in less than a month – the Olympic effect it has not had, which is a shame. Having said that we still stumbled on a few gems that it’s worth sharing with you.

The newly developing area of Finnieston is where it’s at in Glasgow these days. About 2 miles out of the city centre, this was once an industrial wasteland in rapid decline since the end of ship building heyday. However a bit of organic regeneration has seen it start to emerge like a phoenix from the recession ashes. Cheap rents and proximity to the city have attracted young folk and with young folk come trendy bars and eateries, winner! The Finnieston end of the very long Argyle Street is where to head – sympathetically renovated buildings now play home to delicious restaurants, pop ups and speakeasys. If I had to compare it to anywhere I’d say Leeds’ Call Lane when it was first burgeoning (although that doesn’t do it justice at all tbh).  A better comparison is Uberkampf in Paris which has recently transformed from a pretty rough area into a hip and happening oasis of fun and frivolity.

The Gannet - Finnieston, Glasgow

The Gannet – Finnieston, Glasgow

We ate the at the hotly tipped Gannet – a homage to good Scottish produce, served up in a once derelict building. They cure their own meats and smoke their own fish, so I’m wasn’t going to argue. The venue is all bare brick, exposed wires and natural wood. Staff were friendly, genuinely interested in you and helpful in explaining the menus. They do a good early bird, even on a Saturday, but we still opted for the ala carte because it sounded so nice.Gannet Menu

For starters I had to go for the home smoked salmon with crab and fennel salad. The salmon was soft and light, with the smoking very gentle indeed, which is a skill in itself. My fennel salad was lovely and crisp but it’s only writing this now that I’ve realised there was no sign of the crab which is so disappointing! I feel bereft! My dining partner had the oddly paired scallops and confit chicken wing. He however reported that they were in a fact a decent pairing, the fatty, salty chicken a good counter balance to the sweet scallop and all married together nicely by the smooth pea puree.

Gannet Scallops

Gannet Salmon

For mains we both went for the borders lamb, which was a pleasingly hearty portion. The plating meant that as a diner I kept finding new little treats and tit bits on the plate that I wasn’t expecting, which meant for exciting eating! The lamb rump was soft, pink and melt in the mouth. Cubes of crispy belly gave a salty umami edge to the dish with fresh crispness delivered by the braised baby gem and broad beans. A slightly sweet cumin sauce kept the dish beautifully moist and colourful. It was very good eating indeed!

Gannet Lamb

For dessert we shared a caramel fondant and tonka bean ice cream. I still don’t understand how the fondant was produced – sponge filled with caramel… I’m guessing a sponge case injected with caramel before baking? The caramel for me was very sweet and lacking in the burnt sugar/ salty tastes I had anticipated. The ice cream had more of a coconut flavour, not that I’m entirely sure what tonka bean tastes of anyway?! It was a nice accompaniment to the warm cake, elevated by the crumbs of honeycomb on top. Overall a very pleasant meal, made special by the attention to detail in the ingredients and the attitude and attentiveness of the lovely staff.

Gannet Fondant

With full bellies we luckily had room for a few cocktails and so my other tips for Finnieston include – the Kelvingrove Café for grown up cocktails. It’s right next door to the Gannet and is decorated in the style of a vintage Parisian café upstairs and an illegal 1920s speakeasy downstairs. We sat downstairs and enjoyed watching the bar man expertly and speedily produce our cocktails in cut glass. All are gin and vermouth based, so my kind of place! A few doors down is the Finneston, which is a nautical themed pub – think lots of wood and portholes! Again gin is big business here with over sixty on offer. There’s an extensive menu to tempt you. I went for the Scottish gin and tonic which comes with fresh red apple. This was extremely refreshing but too gluggabale! I swiftly moved on to their signature martini which comes wet as standard and includes grapefruit oils. There’s a huge ritual to making the drinks which is lovely to watch. The martinis are served up in tiny glasses but then the remainder of the mix is given to you in a mini jug so that you can top up to your heart’s content. I liked the idea of adding aromatic oils to the drink but felt it wasn’t as pronounced as I would have expected it to be. I’ll be trying the dirty martini next time which comes with the brine from kalamata olives, yum!

Cocktail

Martini (640x568)

So, if like me you’re more of an Edinburgh kind of person then do give Glasgow’s Finneston suburb a look in next time you’re in Scotland. It’s edgier, more creative and more innovative then the foodie scene in Edinburgh and whilst it doesn’t have the same romantic, historic charm of Edinburgh, it’s worth a look in to keep up with the latest trends and fads.

Read more about Finnieston here – http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2014/feb/09/a-day-in-finnieston-glasgow-city-guide

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scran and Scallie

I have a bit of an obsession with Edinburgh. It’s my top city break destination in the UK, above even London. The mixt of elegant and majestic architecture paired with breath taking natural scenery, chilled out scots and a vibrant food and drink scene make it my undoubted second home. I like to pop up on the East Coast mainline a few times a year. Since the discovery of Gardeners Cottage last year I’ve been looking for a new venue to take the mantle of best new eatery in the Burgh. This comes in the shape of the Scran and Scallie, a pub with restaurant, which is the newest addition to the Stockbridge foodie scene.

Table setting

Table setting

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King of the Castle

We ended our foodie expedition of Scotland with a splurge meal at Edinburgh’s Castle Terrace, a modern British restaurant influenced by classic French techniques and driven by a passion for seasonal Scottish ingredients. I’d previously had a fantastic meal at Leith’s The Kitchin, which is the sister restaurant of Castle Terrace, plus I had heard good things from fellow food blogger My Monkfish. Chef patron Dominic Jack is a close friend of Tom Kitchin’s having met him whilst cheffing in Edinburgh when they were both teenagers. Kichin’s influence throughout the restaurant is obvious from the dark and luxurious decor, professional and attentive staff to the ethos of ‘nature to plate’ food.

My Monkfish had put in a good word for us ahead of our visit and so on arrival we were mysteriously ushered down to the kitchen to meet chef Dominic. Set up in a corner of the warm but quiet kitchen was a ‘chef’s table’ where we were seated and given complimentary champagne, canapes and menus to peruse, whilst watching the chefs go about their business. It was fascinating to see the inner workings of such a prestigious restaurant. It was controlled, thoughtful and precise. Everybody was working studiously and effectively under the watchful eye of Dominic. The atmosphere was so peaceful and serene that you could have heard a pin drop. It was almost a bit embarrassing being sat there as we felt like complete intruders! We joked with the waiting staff about how it wouldn’t normally be so ordered, but I genuinely was impressed by how unchaotic and tranquil it all was.

Canapes at the Chef’s table!

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Gardeners Delight!

To round off my gastro-tour of Scotland I had an obligatory trip to Edinburgh, which readers of the blog will know is one of my favourite cities to visit. Having made friends with fellow food blogger My Monkfish at last year’s My Home Supperclub I was keen for her to recommend to me some eateries for us to check out when we hit the Burgh.

Her first tip off was the brand spanking new Gardeners Cottage, which opened earlier this summer. Housed in (you guessed it) an ex-gardeners cottage within the Royal Terrace gardens on London road, it was a hop skip and a jump from where we staying in the Georgian New Town. Plus it had had a fairly decent review from the Guardian’s Jay Rayner the week before so we were happy to pop down for a feed. It’s run by Scottish chef friends Edward and Dale who have chefed in a number of famous Edinburgh eateries that include the Atrium, the Kitchin; as well working for Mark Hix in London.

The Gardener’s Cottage

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2012 – The Year of Real Ale!

Dinner at the Manor proudly declare 2012 as the official year of real ale!!

Here at Dinner at the Manor we love a bit of ale. And despite the traditional stereotype of bearded sandal-wearing morris dancers, I think the image of this delicious drink is on the change. I have to say that I’ve become more and more snobby on a night out, as there’s nothing worse than a disappointing choice of a chemically, bland pint of lager or rancidly sour wine. I live for the excitement of a bar full of ale pumps, proudly declaring their local wares. These might taste floral, spicy, nutty or even chocolatey. My taste buds have evolved to expect more, following my lifetime’s diet of garlic and chilli!

Each ale, with their unique tastes, tell a little story about where they have come from and who has made them. I am thrilled that real ale is having a bit of a resurgence. With the major commercial brewers leaving the big cities they brew in, it’s the independent brewers carrying on the tradition. To me that is beautiful and what the whole industry should be about. I certainly don’t want to be drinking the same, fizzy, insipid liquid wherever I go. I want new taste sensations to excite me and comfort me.

Anyway enough poetry about ale. I like it, you get that. And yes I may have made up the official year of real ale, but we’ll still be celebrating it in style at the Manor with a series of special ale themed events. This kicks off with our supperclub events next month which pair the food from Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries with excellent ales from Leeds Brewery.

Leeds Brewery

Leeds Brewery opened in 2007 and is now the largest brewer in the city. They use only the finest possible ingredients – choicest hops, select British malted barley, and unique Yorkshire yeast – to make some of the tastiest ales I’ve had in a long time. And in exciting news it’s made only down the road from the Manor, you can’t get more local than that!

At our Feb supperclub we’ll be treating guests to Leeds Best, a classic Yorkshire bitter with a hoppy finish; Midnight Bell, a full bodied dark mild with hints of chocolate, coffee and malt; Hell fire, a strong IPA; and a cocktail inspired by Leeds Brewery which contains yet more Midnight Bell! What’s more one of the brewers will be attending on the Friday night to tell us all about the beers. We’ll have to make sure we take lots of notes so that we can tell the guests on the Saturday the same thing! Sadly this event is fully booked but if it sounds like your kind of thing then drop us a line and we’ll make sure you’re on the reserve list for a future event.

Continuing the theme, our April events will pair Ottolenghi’s veggie creations with ale from Innis and Gunn. Now, Innis and Gunn are far from local to Leeds I hear you say. However, those that know us will know that Scotland, and more precisely Edinburgh, is a second home. Our travels there last year led to us making contacts with fellow foodies and we were subsequently approached by Innis and Gunn to work together on a beer and food event. I have to say that I do love their unique take on beer. The ales are strong and unusual – my kind of thing for sure.

The beer was ‘born by accident’ when a distiller wanted to produce an ale finished whiskey. This was achieved by seasoning oak whiskey casks with ale. Tragically the ale was seen as a waste product and was simply thrown away! One day a bright spark thought to sample the waste beer and discovered how delicious it was! They now make a range of uniquely tasting beers and specialise in pairing these to food to show it’s not just fine wines that go well with good food.

At this event we are particularly excited as we will be experimenting with pairing beer to vegetarian food. This is no mean feat as most of the ales are recommended to be consumed with meat! We’re confident that we can manage it though. This event has also proven popular and is fully booked apart from two spaces available on April 20th. If you fancy taking these spaces then you can book here.

More ale was added to our January calendar as Susie and I were invited to attend the launch of Ilkley Brewery’s new MJ Fortis Stout, complete with oyster tasting at Calls Landing Stew and Oyster Bar in Leeds.

Ilkley Brewery is another young upstart – they started brewing in 2009 (there was actually an Ilkley Brewery back in the 19th Century but was disbanded over 100 years ago) and have since gone stellar – winning an award for being one of Yorkshire’s “Most Promising Companies” The brewery has a mission to brew innovative beers full of character. They hand brew in a traditional way, and also use hops sourced world wide which adds to the distinct flavour of their beers. One of Susie’s favourite beers of the moment is their Lotus IPA, strong in alcohol with a hoppy taste.

MJ Fortis Stout is another winner – a thick and full-bodied stout, with chocolate and coffee aromas, and a hint of liquorice, berries and smoke! It paired perfectly well with the oysters and we even partook in shucking a few ourselves! I think the rest of the crowd felt the same way and Calls Landing are now going to serve MJ Fortis over Guinness. Winner all round!

Calls Landing Ilkley MJ Fortis Stout

We also got to chat with Chris Ives, co-owner and Luke Raven, brewer, at Ilkley Brewery – like us they have a passion for food and ale pairings and have recently worked with chefs such as Stephanie Moon to showcase the versatility of beer. We think their beers are worth a taste and we’d love to work with them on a future beer and wine event at Dinner at the Manor.

We’ll definitely be doing more ale and food events this year… it is the year or real ale after all! If this floats your boat then do get in touch. We can add you to our mailing list so that you find out dates of future events first. We are also happy to take advice on which brewers to approach. Or indeed if you are brewer and want to chat about a collaboration then drop us a line too.

Dinner at the Manor visits My Home Supperclub

We had the pleasure of dining at My Home Supperclub last night, one of Edinburgh’s most popular and successful supperclubs. It is run by our friend Aoife, who we have got to know via the supperclub network and have since stalked to make her be our friend! Aoife had invited us up to dine at a special event she was putting on for supperclub pioneer Kerstin Rodgers. The other guests were all foodies, so I think Aoife had her work cut out putting on an excellent spread for a demanding crowd!

I’ve met Aoife a few times now and it always strikes me what a modest person she is and that she is perhaps not 100% confident in her talents as a cook and as a host. I’ve never had any doubt at how good she would be, so it was excellent to see her in action. Without giving too much away, her supperclub is in part of the beautiful Georgian new town of Edinburgh – a place I have come to love recently. It has a bohemian atmosphere and a fantastic array of delis, butchers, fishmongers, pubs and bars etc. You never need to go into the city centre as every need is catered for.

My Home Supperclub is one of those understated yet very elegant kind of venues. We were greeted by soft lighting, relaxing music and vintagey table settings. Aoife, like many supperclub hosts, has given up parts of her apartment to be able to live out her cooking hobby.

We started our meal with a delicate cocktail of prosecco with hibiscus flower – very glamorous indeed! Our starters were little breads called dohkla, which were served with a very fresh and intriguing green coconut chutney. I understand that the chutneys are made at the last minute so they are as fresh as can be. This was swiftly followed by some beautiful mini pani puris which were filled with an array of exciting textures and flavours. It was fun finger food and there were lots of positive noises being made around the table.

We were sat with supperclub siren Kerstin Rodgers who is an interesting character indeed. She regaled us of stories of her celebrity encounters. One of which was Hardeep Singh, who inspired the ‘twitter curry’ that was served up as our main course. I won’t spoil the story about Hardeep (mainly because I don’t want to get done for libel!) but do ask Kerstin for it if you meet her! Aoife and her co-chef Meena, of Chai Lounge, worked hard to also serve us an okra and potato curry – which has to be the first time I’ve ever been able to eat okra! The star for me was the bejewelled pilau rice, which was so soft and well cooked. A triumph for the chefs! It came with a warm yoghurt concoction which is spooned over for extra luxury.

Our dessert was a chai pannacotta with mango sorbet. The pannacotta almost had savoury notes, which was great to experience. The sorbet helped to lift it and it was a good end to a very filling and satisfying meal.

It was great to chat to some truly interesting folk including Hilary, who runs top food blog http://mymonkfish.com/ and Nikki a very refreshing and straight talking wine expert. She’s about to publish a book which I shall look forward to reading. Check her out at http://www.convivium.co/

Finally, it was lovely to have a proper chat with Aoife in her homely kitchen. She’s one of life’s good people who deserves all the success she is experiencing with her foodie venture. It was a tough call for her to cook Kerstin’s recipes at the same supperclub she was dining at, but I think she pulled it off extremely well. My only qualm was that I wanted to eat some of Aoife’s beloved game, as well as share in her jelly obsession – which just means one thing really, I’ll have to go back!

Do go and visit if you’re in the Scottish capital. But make sure you get booked in as she won’t ever have vacancies for very long!