At Pizza

Tucked away on Charlotte Lane, hungry patrons step into the bright lights and line up eagerly to sample the carefully made, rustic sourdough pizzas from the At Pizza team. Recently my Instagram became flooded with excited posts from fellow foodies raving about the unusual pizza parlour so naturally i felt a need to try it out.

Deciding to try some of the creations the team have put together we chose the Heart Breaker and the White Dog and washed both down with a couple of cold brewski’s; locally re-made by Edinburgh Paolozzis.

The Heart Breaker was a hot n spicy mix of roquito pepper, Scottish mozzarella, pepperoni, spicy Italian sausage, fresh jalapeño, grilled red onion, rosemary and sriracha sauce. Even after skirting round the jalapeños this pizza gave that delicious fiery kick that made your eyes water and nose run, in the best way possible.

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The White Dog was a deliciously indulgent collaboration of garlic and ricotta, Scottish mozzarella, grilled red onion, pesto Basilico drizzle, garlic oil and gran Moravia cheese; the nuttiness of the pesto cut through the creamy ricotta and thick stringy mozzarella and the red onions gave a welcome crunch to this cheesy feast.

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The staff carefully and delicately assembled each pizza and were friendly and chatty as i moved through the process from creation to baked perfection. The Paolozzi’s, crisp and cold, helped combat the fire from the Heart Breaker and the casual picnic table style of the restaurant gave a no muss, no fuss feel which is perfect for a casual Friday night of tasty pizza and refreshing beer.

All in all i am glad i have gone to see what all the hype was about and will definitely be back to try some of their other inventions and to create my own; though that could get a little out of hand as the lovely people at At Pizza don’t charge for extra toppings unless you go fancy with king prawns. Which in all honestly will most definitely happen.

 

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Pizza Posto

Pizza Posto was soon top of my list of places to try after seeing an excited flurry of fellow foodies raving about the authentic Neapolitan pizza parlour; photos of delicious colourful pizzas teased me and I knew I had to get a slice, or ten, of the action. Pizza Posto sits opposite the festival theatre on Nicholson street and appears smaller from the outside, once inside the restaurant spans vastly through the back with an open kitchen enabling you to ogle the talented pizza chefs at work.

Their menu is so affordable and not too extensive that you are sat for an eternity trying to chose one of their delicious creations. We opted for one of their number 4’s; nduja base, Tuscan sausage, tender stem broccoli, mozzarella and olive oil.

The nduja base was rich and the sausage spicy, giving a slow burning kick of chilli with every mouthful, the broccoli melted beautifully into the gooey mozzarella which oozed flavour and the crusts made perfect for mopping up the nutty olive oil.

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Our second choice was one of Pizza Posto’s specials; parma ham, fresh rocket, parmesan, mozzarella, olive oil and a big juicy ball of burrata. The burrata, although cold, fell apart as we carefully spread it over the pizza, the parma ham’s saltiness cut through the creaminess of the cheese and the rocket gave a welcome peppery kick; a king of pizzas.

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A bottle of their merlot, pinot nero from Veneto, Italy complimented both pizzas happily and by the end of this unapologetically indulgent feast we were comfortably stuffed and happy. Now I am one of these foodies working myself up in a frenzy over how good, no great, Pizza Posto pizzas are.

As soon as I got home I raved to my flatmate who took her sisters the next again day and all three were very happy campers.

If you have not been then go – don’t put it off any longer because once you eat there you will be planning your next visit mid meal. Thank you Pizza Posto for helping me rediscover what good authentic pizza can taste like, until next time, Ciao.

 

 

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Cau

So stylish. So trendy. These were just a few of the thoughts that ran through my mind when stepping into Cau; their aim is to create exciting and flavour packed dishes resembling the colourful palette of Argentina. Unlike some pricey restaurants Cau is not intimidatingly posh, as soon as you step in the door you are greeted by friendly staff who take you through a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere to your table.

We began with cocktails, opting for a Cau Girl Martini and a The Grass is Greener; the Cau Girl Martini was the perfect sweet and tart  blend of Stoli Vodka, passion fruit purée, apple juice, vanilla sugar and sparkling rosé. The Grass is Greener was an adventurous concoction of Hendrick’s Gin, Midori, apple and citrus juice all shaken up with egg whites; making a crisp, fresh palette cleansing aperitif.

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I’ll tell you now the menu in Cau is delectable; so many tantalising options to chose from which made it difficult to keep to just two starters. To get a broad range of flavours we chose the shrimp chicharron and croquettes; where you can pick three different flavours of croquette – smoked haddock – porcini mushroom and black truffle – ham hock and manchego and to honour Burns nights a haggis number.

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We went for smoked haddock; the smokey fish and potato croquette worked harmoniously with the paprika mayo. The ham hock and manchego was a perfect balance between the creamy, nuttiness of the manchego and the saltiness of the ham hock. And finally but by no means least, a rich, dense meaty haggis morsel that screamed quality with every bite.

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The shrimp chicharron was a colourful plate of crispy fried shrimp, ají amarillo sauce, red jalapeño, spring onion and coriander cress. The batter encasing the prawns was light and crisp and wonderfully soaked up the mouth watering ají amarillo sauce; creamy and with hints of mango, this brilliantly balanced the fiery fresh chilli, making this my favourite.

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Now for the main event, Cau promises to capture the soul and flavour of authentic Argentinian cuisine and we had heard great things about their steak so we opted for 320 grams of pure unadulterated rib-eye and rump steak.  We chose skinny sweet potato fries and three different sauces; peppercorn, blue cheese hollandaise and classic chimichurri to accompany this feast and although worried this may not be enough, their selection of sides are heavenly, we need not have fretted because the steaks were of epic proportions.

The rib-eye was tender and perfectly cooked; requested to be cooked rare our attentive server recommended medium rare as their rib-eye steaks can have between 11-14% fat marbled through the meat and cooking them for that little bit longer melts the fat into delicious flavour.

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The rump was a beautiful hunk of meat that wobbled as i sawed through the thick, tender flesh and burst with meaty flavour with every mouthful.

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The sauces come in little pots, ideal for dipping, and it was the blue cheese hollandaise that stole my heart; rich, glossy sauce that was not overpowered with blue cheese made a superb creamy accompaniment to the steaks. The peppercorn sauce was thinner than i would have preferred but packed with buttery, peppery flavour. The chimichurri salsa was tasty, spicy and fragrant but there was too much oil sitting on top.

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We chose a bottle of Doña Paula cabernet sauvignon to sip alongside this magnificent banquet; cassis, cool mint and eucalyptus combined with ripe and juicy fruits made this a complimentary and enjoyable wine alongside the flavours of the meat.

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Happily defeated by the steaks we passed on dessert but with options such as dulche de leche pancakes, churros and Argentinian ice cream i will definitely be back with an appetite big enough to conquer all. Cau is a fantastic place to indulge and treat yourself to some scrumptious food and delicious wine in a beautiful setting however they also do a brunch menu, which caught my eye as we left, so there is a happy excuse to visit all times in the day. I promise you won’t be disappointed so book a table, throw on your glad rags, better if they have an elastic waist, and treat yourself to simple yet exquisite food.

 

 

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Topa La Bamba

Happy New Year! 2018 is going to be all about trying new things; recipes, restaurants, cuisines and exploring more of the world. I took a hiatus from writing over the festive period but began my foodie adventure at one of Edinburgh’s most fun and adored Mexican joints; Topa La Bamba is a colourful and quirky restaurant that serves fresh, mouth watering tapas style dishes with larger options such as the classic burrito or heavenly chipolte honey ribs. Their classic margarita is too easily drunk and with watermelon and apple flavours there is something for everyone.

We ordered a collection of smaller dishes to get a little taste of everything; crispy fried fish of the day tacos, crab ceviche tostadas, homemade chorizo taquitos and jalapeno poppers. Oh.My.Days. The jalapeno poppers were thick n chunky; coated in a crunchy fried breadcrumb cacoon they burst with thick creamy molito cheese and made you go ooh. Topa know what they are doing by only serving two per dish, the saying ‘always leave them wanting more’ certainly works in their favour here.

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The crab ceviche tostadas boasted generous mounds of cold, refreshing crab and salad sat upon a crispy tortilla pancake topped with crema, which is a creamy, slightly sour Mexican condiment that is somewhere between sour cream and crème fraîche. Delicious, decadent and the combinations of textures made each mouthful exciting and a challenge to devour.

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The crispy fried fish tacos were tasty and gloriously messy to eat; light, golden goujons of meaty fish nestled in slaw, wrapped in a soft tortilla and topped with crema with generous wedges of lemon on the side to cut through the batter of the fish. My first time trying fish tacos and thanks to the chefs at Topa i will not be looking back. No way Jose.

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Topa’s homemade chorizo taquitos were the thing dreams are made of; rich, smokey, spicy sausage encased in a crisp shell topped with, yes you guessed it, crema. Perfect for picking up and nibbling on or, as i decided, dunking into the creamy molito cheese from the jalapeno poppers. Absolutely scrumptious.

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Comfortably full but 100% greedy and hankering for more tasty delights from the Topa team we ordered a classic Mexican dessert; piping hot churros with a rich and glossy dark chocolate sauce. Fluffy on the inside and crunchy on the outside these golden fingers of dough were the perfect sweet end to an exquisite feast of classic favourites to new experiences and flavours.

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We left happy and full; feelings not hard to conjure up in this warm and inviting space where the staff are friendly and happy to chat while you, maybe ever so slightly, dramatically agonise over what to chose. When there are too many delectable dishes i can sometimes get flustered and feel the need to try everything now and forget that i can come back another time to try more! If you are looking for great food, a relaxed setting and the perfect amount of mood lighting to make anyone look good then look no further than Topa La Bamba. Thank you guys, in Arnie’s words (and voice), i’ll be back.

 

 

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Trenchtown Caribbean Social Club

After reading rave reviews from the likes of Joanna Blythman and being bowled over with excited chatter from friends it was about time to sample the exotic and colourful food and tings Trenchtown Caribbean Social Club had to offer. Trenchtown is a stones throw away from my flat which makes it an ideal candidate for a new local favourite.

The menu is a vibrant selection of mouth watering dishes from jerk pork belly, original Trini chicken curry and curry fish but it was their Trenchtown goat curry that caught my eye. I have always wanted to try goat curry and an authentic Caribbean restaurant with rave reviews seemed like a pretty good place to start; an aromatic blend of top secret house spices, fiery scotch bonnet chilli, citrus juice and fresh ginger make the heart warming curry that was devilishly moreish and insanely hot.

I had always imagined goat to taste like lamb, perhaps because they are part of the same bleet bleet family, but the tender meaty chunks tasted like beef and were absolutely divine. The curry is served with a side of coconut rice an’ peas, sweet onion chutney, green seasoning and Caribbean dumplings; the sweet coconut in the rice worked well with the tangy spice of the curry and the dumplings, beautifully crunchy and golden on the outside and soft and doughy on the inside, were perfect torn into pieces, soaking up the rich, tasty sauce.

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To wash down this scrumptious feast we had pints of Red Stripe Draught; perfectly crisp and refreshing to combat the eye watering spice of the curry. All the flavours worked harmoniously together creating a rich and memorable dish that had me singing Trenchtown’s praises to anyone that would listen.

The guys at Trenchtown know flavour and there is a wonderful no fuss approach to their food; hearty portions of good quality ingredients, each mouthful bursting with spice and heat without taking away from the flavour of the dish. I highly recommend gathering a group, ordering a selection from their wonderful menu and i promise you will never look back.

 

 

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Gusto

Gusto is a gorgeous Italian restaurant at the west end of George street, peaking behind a twinkling curtain of fairy lights the restaurant draws customers into it’s warm, intimate space boasting dark glossy wooden floors and high ceilings with old black and white photographs tastefully lining the walls as you enter.

Mama T and I were meeting for a catch up and i had come across Gusto’s Itison voucher for two courses for two people with a glass of prosecco each. What’s not to love?! We were able to book straight away and were greeted with friendly, welcoming staff that sat us in one of the small alcoves. Our secluded spot was quiet enough to enjoy our conversation and there was a gentle but excited buzz amongst tables as drinks were clinked in heartfelt toasts; cutlery carefully passed between parties wobbling wonderfully with mouthfuls from courses across the menu.

We asked for our prosecco to accompany the thirsty work of making a choice between all the delicious sounding dishes; cold, crisp and the right level of sharpness, this made a wonderfully refreshing start to our evening.

I moved away from my normal go-to picks and chose the creamed garlic mushrooms topped with crispy shallots, served with char-grilled artisan bread. When I read creamed garlic mushrooms I pictured a thick, rich garlicky mushroom concoction that would be mopped up by the bread. The mushrooms were button-like and came whole; happily drowning in a heavy, garlic laden sauce, which in my book is definitely not a bad thing but i did have to add salt as i found apart from the strong presence of garlic the sauce lacked depth in flavour. The bread was slightly too char-grilled for my liking and needed a slight scraping to remove the thin black crust but the crispy shallots were gorgeous, golden brown morsels that brought a great texture to the dish.

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Mama T chose wisely, going for the Tagliatelle with smoked salmon and dill, tossed with cream, peas and spinach finished with fresh lemon. Lets just say I was green eyed with envy; it was divine and exploded with flavour. The dill and lemon harmoniously worked together to perfectly cut through the cream while still managing to compliment the delicate flavour of the salmon and sweetness of the peas. Several bites were stolen off her plate and she was lucky it was only a few small ones!

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Service was speedy and the staff attentive; wine glasses never empty and plates whisked away as soon as cutlery was placed down in defeat, our mains were presented to us before we knew it.

I went for the roast chicken breast with creamed leeks, tomato and caper dressing and fried gnocchi and boy did they deliver. The chicken was tender and moist, topped with golden crispy skin, it rested on a melt in your mouth bed of soft, buttery leeks. The gnocchi were soft, delightfully dense and perfectly browned; soaking up the rich oils from the ripe tomatoes and salty capers.

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My experienced dining companion tucked into the oven baked fillet of cod wrapped in prosciutto served with tender-stem broccoli and fresh sliced chilli. The prosciutto created a deliciously salty envelope around the delicate, flaky chunks of cod and the broccoli gave a nice snap and crunch with hints of fiery chilli in each mouthful.

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Throughout our meal we sipped on a wonderfully cold and delicious bottle of cortese, san silvestro, and out of sheer curiosity and greed, we ordered truffled fries with grana padano and Italian fried courgettes. Crunchy and perfectly seasoned on the outside, and light and fluffy on the inside the fries were highly addictive.

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The batter covering the fried courgettes had a slight crunch but were not well seasoned and cooled and softened quickly. A good dish for sharing amongst a larger party were they would be gobbled up in no time.

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I have now been here for birthdays, Christmas work parties and casual weekday dinners; Gusto caters for every occasion with ease, confident in their food, each experience has been fun and unforgettable. It is easy for time to pass in this cosy, lively bubble of lights, laughter and excellent food. Once you have dined at Gusto you’ll be instantly converted and forever a loyal fan, the minds behind the food know what they are doing and all you have to do is revel in their yummy creations.

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Bentoya

Bentoya serves up some of the tastiest sushi creations i have ever had the pleasure of trying. Just off Lothian road on Bread Street it is tucked away enough that you are sure to always get a table but is well known by locals and the buzz i’ve heard from friends was enough to get me to pick up the phone.This was the next of our flat mate dinners and all three of us were champing at the bit to dine here.

We began with a selection of old favourites and new temptations; green dragon rolls, volcano rolls, takoyaki, pumpkin croquettes, chicken and vegetable gyoza and the 5 piece sashimi set.

I discovered green dragon rolls at our last flat mate dinner and haven’t looked back since; creamy avocado sat upon sweet sticky rice that encompassed savoury crispy prawn tempura topped with mayo, eel sauce and flying fish roe. My new favourite sushi go to, the crunch of the tempura gave a satisfying texture and delicious taste to this perfect bundle of taste bud joy.

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Volcano rolls are similar to dragon rolls but with a fiery twist; dried shredded chilli, spring onion and a generous helping of creamy sauce. The sauce balanced out the heat of the chilli making it a rich, indulgent mouthful with the perfect amount of kick.

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Everywhere we go there are certain dishes we always order, curious to see how they differ with each restaurant and, to be honest, because they taste fantastic. Takoyaki is one of these dishes and these were up there with some of the best; perfectly formed golden spheres of crunchy batter and sweet octopus served with mayo, warm and comforting, these will stay a firm favourite.

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Pumpkin croquettes are another of our favourites and Bentoya know exactly how to hit the balance of the crunchy bread crumb and sesame exterior to the smooth sweet pumpkin filling, drizzled with their ‘secret’ house sauce. The secret is i have no idea what it was but it was bloody delicious.

I used to be team crispy gyoza but recently, and with great thanks to Bentoya, i have definitely jumped on the soft gyoza band wagon. Neat pockets of a scrumptious chicken and vegetable filling that soak up a sharp and spicy vinegar sauce which are perfect for sharing but once you taste them you’ll wish you weren’t sharing.

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I am late to the sashimi hype, if there ever was one, and i am still on the fence; when fresh it is divine but more often or not the fish can taste overly fishy and leave an off taste in your mouth. We ordered the 5 piece set which included salmon, tuna, octopus, shrimp and surf clam. The salmon was fresh and clean, the surf clam had a strong fishy taste which is unusual, the tuna’s texture was good but the taste from the surf clam over powered the taste. The octopus tasted sweet and slightly chewy and the shrimp were similarly sweet and fleshy. I would order the salmon over and over again and possibly the tuna but i’ll happily leave the rest having tried it once.

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We had a rest break but we were far from finished, curious to try more we ordered the teriyaki chicken sizzling plate with rice and spider rolls; crispy soft shell crab and avocado roll topped with sesame, mayo, flying fish roe and tempura flakes. Another great combination of sweet and savoury but not as addictive as the dragon and volcano rolls.

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The sizzling plate was glorious; stir fry vegetables swam in a sweet glossy teriyaki sauce accompanied by sticky rice and lightly battered golden pieces of chicken, it was moreish, tasty and comforting.

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I left feeling full, satisfied and now part of the ever growing group that rave about Bentoya. I have already made plans to go back with friends with suggestions of dishes i have yet to try but are definitely on my list. Now a cemented favourite in my mind of go to places to eat this is not the last of Bentoya but merely only the beginning of a very exciting relationship with one of Edinburgh’s best sushi restaurants.

 

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