The Chophouse: Wild Turkey Masterclass

The Leith Chop House Steak House is the epitome of a hidden gem: a stylish refuge on Constitution Street where the barmen are dapper, the drinks inventive and the food delicious and fun.

This was our second tasting with the Compass Group, owners of The Westroom, Sygn Bar and Monteiths, and going on our first experience we were in for a treat.

I started with a Jalisco Two Step, a perfectly sharp blend of Tapatio blanco tequila, cherry liqueur, sea salt and watermelon cordial, agave and lime. 

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The girls opted for something sweeter: the Betty Do Wop. A fabulous concoction of Bombay Sapphire gin, strawberry shrub, mallow root and lemon.

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For the tasting we began with a platter of fat golden corn dogs with a tangy sweetcorn salsa; the batter crunched as we wrestled our mouths round the dogs with the sharpness of the salsa balancing out each mouthful. Alongside this we had chicken lollipops; juicy chicken legs coated in a thick, crispy layer of breadcrumbs with a blue cheese sauce that was so tangy and delicious it was hard not to drink it straight, however we politely dipped and melted.

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The cocktail paired to this mini feast was an adult take on the classic cherry soda pop: sweet and juicy with a kick to the back of your throat.

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Our second cocktail for the evening came paired with a wee paper cone of burnt caramel coated popcorn which was so moreish i sneaked some off the girls. Whiskey and caramel are a fantastic combination and this cocktail was our clear favourite.

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This was followed by beautifully tender slices of rare steak soaked in a basil and mint marinade that melted in your mouth.

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Our final cocktail was a smoky, peaty whiskey with banana and nutmeg; the perfect liquid dessert. Sitting carefully on top was a dried piece of banana that resembled sucking on a sour lemon, it acted as a great palette cleanser and left a wonderfully tart taste in your mouth.

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For three women who, prior to this tasting, avoided whiskey like the plague, we will now be actively seeking out more of the Chop House’s inventive and mouth watering cocktails to quench our new found thirst for the strong stuff. Another fun, interesting and unforgettable tasting and we can’t wait for the next one.

 

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The Westroom: A night of tasting

The Westroom Cafe and Bar is tucked away on Melville Street with a few seats outside that are a prime location to soak up the last of the warm evening sun. My flatmate had two tickets to one of many food and drink events hosted by the Compass Group across their different venues including The Chop House as well as The Westroom; we turned up curious and peckish.

We began with the Riesling ‘Vidal’ from New Zealand; grapes are collected from three vineyards in the Awatere Valley producing a sharp aromatic wine that went down way too easily. As this was my first wine tasting i did the whole shabang; swirling the wine round the glass and burying my nose in to deeply inhale the citrus and floral notes of the deliciously sharp first candidate.

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With each bottle we were also given a small dish from their menu that had been paired specifically to compliment the wine and, my own theory, to slow down the inevitable effects of multiple glasses of wine.

To accompany the Riesling we were presented with rich crunchy black pudding fritters with a thick glossy chilli jam. The two worked perfectly together.

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Our second contender was a 2014 South Australian Sauvignon Blanc titled ‘Starvedog Lane’. After i finished admiring the label i conducted the swirling, inhaling process; the wine had hints of asparagus and the distinctive note of fresh cut grass which made it a refreshing and crisp second glass.

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To follow we were served a miniature twist on the classic prawn cocktail; plump king prawns nestle in baby gem lettuce leaves with a healthy dollop of home made marie rose sauce. The collective silence while everyone ate concluded another good match.

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The final wine to be poured was the 2014 Chardonnay Fiano ‘Da Luca’ made in Siciliy. Being my third wine in the tasting i had near ‘mastered’ the swirl and inhale and this was the kind of wine that made your nose tingle. A complex multitude of citrus, blackcurrant and thyme makes your nostrils sing and mouth water. A definite must to try.

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Our final nibble was flaky golden pastry with chorizo and spinach topped with creamy goats cheese which echoed the wines rich body in flavour.

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As first times go The Westroom greatly exceeded my expectations on wine tastings and the whole evening flew by in a flurry of delicious wines and delectable canapes in the relaxed and friendly cafe and bar. We left happy and already planning our next trip to try more.

 

 

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Three Birds: Tasting Menu

Three Birds is nestled at the top of Viewforth in Brunstfield and i have always wanted to try their menu; many friends have sang their praises and i was excited to find out why. To test their experimental dishes in preparation for their new menu, Three Birds hosted two tasting days where the proposed new dishes were half price.

Half price food? Table booked, we waited eagerly for Tuesday the 4th to arrive.

We began with a trio of enticing starters, choosing a promising seafood dish, a quirky meat dish and exotic sounding soup. Promising turned out to be divine: sautéed prawns, squid and octopus happily drowned in tamarind recado and pineapple salsa exploding which with tropical, fruity flavour.

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Quirky turned out to be a confusing mixture of rich venison tartare, cold under seasoned cauliflower cream, two overpowering anchovies, whole smoked almonds and a chocolate crumb. The crunchy almonds felt out of place against the softness of the tartare and cream and the only downfall of the tartare was there was not enough.

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The final starter stayed true to not only being exotic but tasting like nothing i have ever had before.  Earthy green curry water cress soup that left a surprisingly fresh grassy after taste, slashed with turmeric yoghurt and a deliciously sweet troupe of shrimp sinking in the middle.

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The old ball and chain chose wisely and tucked into a tender braised lamb shank with anchovy butter and zesty oregano gremolata, sitting on a beautifully simple salad of olive, feta, tomato & cucumber with tzatztiki and small crisp potatoes.

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And finally, a drum roll for the star of the show, a mouth wateringly pink duck breast with a crackling salty skin. The sharpness of the rhubarb kimchi cast a shadow over the slightly bland smoked duck leg khichidi and charred asparagus but the duck egg held it’s own; a bubble of pure poached perfectness.

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Portions are generous and by the end of the main courses i was resembling a wee stuffed chicken. But Three Birds dessert menu was too good to resist; i went for a gloriously dense chocolate mousse which achieved a winning combination of bitter and sweet. Accompanied with wedges of pistachio sprinkled golden honey comb, this dessert was heaven; my only demand was for more of the crunchy golden goodness.

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All of these equisite and educating dishes were greedily washed down with a bottle of Mavum Pinot Grigio which was smooth and sweet.

Although some of the flavours did not work for me in certain dishes, the food was bold and the overall experience unforgettable. The staff were so friendly and helpful which made a comfortable atmosphere and time flew by. Three Birds knocked it out of the park and i can’t wait to see what they decide on with their menu; i’ll be singing their praises too.