Reviews

White Horse Oyster Bar

White Horse Oyster Bar is tucked away on the Royal Mile with beautifully distressed walls on the outside you could easily walk past this hidden gem; inside transforms into an elegant and surprisingly spacious restaurant, echoing the groups Chop House restaurants interior.

The high tables and seats round the bar create a comfortable and casual setting while through the back boasts comfy leather booths and tables.

I had heard about White Horse Oyster Bar, the newest addition to the Compass Group, for a while now and we had come along to their paired wine and seafood tasting.

We were greeted by friendly staff and a glass of Le Altane extra dry from Italy which boasted peach and pair flavours, with large soft bubbles that marvellously fizzed on our tongues.

Tim from Matthew Clarke was clearly passionate about the wines he talked us through and made everyone feel relaxed.

To accompany the Le Altane was the exquisitely presented Carlingford oysters; nestled in a bed of crushed ice they glistened beautifully. The traditional Tabasco and lemon juice was provided along with their own finely diced mix of apple, tarragon and sherry caramel.

This was my first time trying oysters and i had heard mixed reviews in general to their taste, texture and even the method to eating them. The oysters smelled of that strong, nostaligic seaside freshness, it took me back to rock pooling when I was a child.

In the end i chose a squeeze of lemon and a small spoonful of the apple and tarragon mix and I decided to shot it, swallowing everything whole as recommended by fellow tasters.

The oyster itself was fresh, salty and had a refreshing mineral yet creamy taste as described by our lovely and very knowledgeable server, the sweetness of the apple complimented the saltiness of the oyter and sharpness of the lemon. If i had to decribe it in one word: heavenly.

After i snapped out my giddy haze on trying a new taste and loving it we moved onto the second wine; a gorgeously sharp and aromatic Vavasour Pinot Gris from New Zealand. This was by far my favourite of the evening, ginger notes gave a delicate nuttiness and my nose tingled when taking a good inhale, always a good sign in my book.

Paired with this delicious wine was Scotch Bonnet cured salmon with avocado and heritage tomato on bruchetta. The warmth of the spice was just right, the fattiness of the salmon absorbing some of the kick and the soft avocado, ripe tomatoes and perfectly crisp bruchetta gave multiple delectable textures to this divine dish.

And last but no means least wonderful wine of the evening was a light, crisp Caves Road Semillon Sauvignon Blanc from Australia which was refreshing to the palette.

And to compliment this refreshing wine, thick plump slices of sesame crusted tuna tataki with tart grapefruit and sweet nasturtiums. Every bite was slowly savoured and i particuarly liked the sharp flavours of the small juicy pieces of grapefruit against the fleshiness of the tuna and hard nutty crunch of the sesame seeds.

By the end of the tasting we were firmly on cloud nine; oyster virginities lost and delicious wine after wine accompanied with some of the freshest, lightest seafood flavour combinations i have ever had the pleasure of tasting.

The staff were smiling, ready to talk through their extensive wine list and menu and i could easily have sat in their beautiful window seat all evening working my way through all they had to offer.

Treat a loved one or treat yourself and feast on the best fresh seafood Edinburgh has to offer.

Gaucho

Dining in a restaurant below ground level with no windows sounds slightly sombre and definitely does not sound like an appealing setting to eat delicious food. However walking downstairs into Gaucho is like taking a step into a magical children’s fairy tale. But with alcohol.

Their lighting game was on a whole other level and what resembled an abstract take on trees dressed in twinkling lights, surrounded by cosy silver studded chairs and elegant table settings created a kingdom fit for indulging in their tantalising menu.

Smartly dressed waiters floated about effortlessly but always aware of their surroundings; attentive, efficient and knew exactly what they were talking about when it came to the produce and dishes.

We decided to share a bottle of their Seleccion G El Esteco to begin with which was lovely and sharp and aromatic.

After drinks had been poured, our waitress came out with the Gaucho steak board; rump, sirloin, rib-eye, fillet and more, she explained each cut, how it was best cooked and described the rubs and marinades in such detail our mouths were watering.

To start i chose tuna ceviche; the sashimi grade tuna was plump and fresh while the avocado was deliciously soft against the sharp sweetness of the spring onion, tang of the ginger and chilli and nuttiness of sesame. This is the first ceviche i have ever tried and why has it taken me this long? A wonderfully fresh dish bursting with flavour.

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I have recently gotten into red wine so of course i had to have a pot, a carafe to the rest of the world, of their Seleccion G Luigi Bosca 2016/7 which was rich, full bodied and smooth to sip.

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Now for the long anticipated main event; a 300g fillet steak cooked medium rare served with a side salad, bluecheese sauce and the truffle baked gnocci.

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Decadence at it’s finest.

The steak was so tender and pink, it cut like butter and tasted so very juicy. The blue cheese sauce was thick and glossy, perfect for dipping every plump steak chunk into and the salad proved the perfectly light, crisp accompaniment.

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The steak was absolutely gorgeous but it was the gnocchi that took me by surprise; deliciously sticky doughy balls baked in a rich, creamy sauce that begged to be licked from the dish (we restrained ourselves) which left that garlicky truffle taste dancing round your mouth. Even if you don’t get steak or don’t need any more sides (are there ever too many?) get the gnocchi, you will never look back.

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Suitably stuffed of rich, tasty food we sat chatting and basking in that wonderful post meal glow, the kind you only get after a really good meal and where you spend the next 15 minutes praising and discussing the food even though you have just eaten it.

Gaucho is not cheap but unlike some pricey places everything they serve is worth every penny you pay. The whole menu is delectable, the decor impeccable, the staff flawless and they really make your experience great.

Whether it be for a special occasion or you just fancy really treating yourself everyone needs to dine at Gaucho at least once in their life.

 

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Baba

Wonderful smells filled my nostrils as soon as i walked into Baba, on the corner of George street the colourful restaurant has been open since last November and offers a taste of the Levant; delicious dishes inspired by the cuisine from countries including Cyprus, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey.

The idea is to order many smaller dishes and share, much like Spanish tapas, which works perfectly for a greedy wee foodie like myself as it means i can try many of the  tempting dishes on offer.

The beetroot hummus, whipped feta and hazelnut dukkah was sensational; the feta had that wonderful salty tang and was so creamy, the hummus earthy and slightly sweet all topped with a generous drizzle of nutty olive oil. It was fantastic with the warm soft pita, perfect for scooping up in one big bite.

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The smell of the baharat beef kofta, butternut, yoghurt and aleppo chilli reached my nose before i could even see the dish and when i did i was not disappointed; rich salty beef in sweet butternut puree, every mouthful was delicious and the fruitiness of the aleppo chilli worked wonderfully with the coolness of the fresh yoghurt.

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The baked sweet potato, zhug and crème fraîche was warm, creamy and bursting with flavour. Zhug is a traditional middle eastern spicy sauce of garlic, coriander, chilli, salt and cumin that sang with flavour and is something i will attempt to recreate at home.

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My sister ordered the squid, merguez sausage and salmorejo, a puree of tomatoes, bread, oil and garlic, which was light and rich all in one; the squid crispy and the sausage meaty and intense with flavour this was a perfect dish to steal a bite of.

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The slow-cooked pork belly, charcoal-baked celeriac and golden raisins pulled apart beautifully, the pork was so tender and moist and the raisins plump and sweet. My grandpa loved it so much i had to wrestle a bite off him but i am so glad i did, this dish was warm, comforting and the right amount of salty and sweet.

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To accompany all this exquisite food i sipped on a sweet cocktail of gin, almond, rose and egg whites decorated with gorgeous purple flowers. It was sweet, fresh and floral and the only less than perfect thing about it was that there was not enough. A heavenly treat for a fabulous lunch with some of my nearest and dearest and some of the most flavourful  food i have eaten.

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The staff at Baba were super friendly and patient, explaining every spice we had not heard of and stopping to explain the dishes they were bringing out to other diners when they noticed my wee face lit up, neck craned to have a look. Baba is great for families, a romantic dinner for two or organising that long overdue gals night to drink and laugh the night away, I can’t wait to go back and finish trying everything they have to offer.

 

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Chop House Steak

I have been wanting to dine at Chop House ever since I heard about them and first read their menu; I was instantly hooked. This only intensified when I attended their Wild Turkey Masterclass in July last year, were adventurous cocktails were paired with delicious nibbles such as rare, tender strips of steak soaked in a basil and mint marinade that melted in your mouth.

When i read that the team were opening another venue in Brunstfield i was over the moon and signed up to know when the earliest i could book was. After waiting what seemed like an eternity, booking opened and the rest is history.

While looking at the menu we sipped a delicious medium bodied red called The Guv’nor, a mix of grenache and tempranillo grapes from Castilla y Leon from Spain, this gorgeous wine will blow your taste buds right off your tongue. If you are a red fan then order even a glass of this to try, I beg of you, you will not look back.

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Normally a fillet or a rump gal, for the thickness of the cut, I decided to try something different and ordered the 350 gram rib-eye steak; beautifully marbled with rich fat, most places will (or should) recommend medium rare so that the fat melts into the meat, leaving only delicately succulent steak that breaks easily under your knife.

Chop House served exactly that; each piece melted in your mouth, deliciously tender and juicy and I could have happily enjoyed it by itself however their selection of sauces were too tempting. The peppercorn sauce had the perfect amount of spice and consistency while the blue cheese, my favourite, was thick, creamy and wonderfully tangy making an indulgent accompaniment to the meat.

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And of course the sides; I had been recommended their mac cheese and green beans and chilli butter but it was their gem lettuce and whipped blue cheese which caught my eye so naturally we had to order all three.

The mac cheese was almost milky in it’s creaminess and with plenty sauce, I strongly disagree with dry mac and cheese, and the top was golden brown, crispy and stringy – everything you want in a great mac and cheese.

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The green beans with chilli butter had a glorious crunch and fiery spice which contrasted perfectly to the gooey mac cheese.

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Not being a big blue cheese fan I have recently started warming to blue cheese sauces as they are normally milder than a hunk of the cheese so I was curious to try their gem lettuce with whipped blue cheese.

I was slightly disappointed with this dish as when I think whipped i think of a light, creamy dip or dressing with the sweet crisp gem lettuces. Instead the lettuce was tossed with chunks of blue cheese which my other half wolfed down and is tasty if you are a hardcore blue cheese fan but alas i am not quite there yet.

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The staff were super friendly, chatty and looked after us brilliantly, giving advice on cuts, flavours and pairings; with their expert help you are sure to never have a bad meal at Chop House.

Fortunatly for my taste buds and greedy nature but unfortunatly for my bank account i now live ten minutes from a Chop House. I will definitely be visiting every couple of months to work my way through their mouth watering menu which also offers delicious steak alternatives such as blackend tuna, burrata salad, lobster and cauliflower steaks.

Thanks to the team who made our night such a treat with wonderful food, great service and the desire to come back as soon as possible.

 

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Meats and Beats

Leaving the cold at the door, we entered Summarhall excited and hungry for the long anticipated Meats and Beats festival; food stalls were downstairs in the courtyard, animated groups of hungry patrons queing, eating and drinking, the bars and the fabulous tunes were upstairs warming up for a long fun-filled night of dancing.

Of course it was a paolozzi to begin, a firm favourite of mine and the cold crisp beer was a great accompaniment to the first delicious dish. The Shanty Town has become a new addition to my favourites; unfortunately for me they are based in Newcastle but they would be worth the trip as their skills with steak just about made my wee mind implode.

After pining for everything on their menus i went for their steak po’boy and boy oh boy i was not disappointed. Just watching the guys at work is a fun experience; steaks sizzle until they are chosen, effortsly cut and drizzled with butter the meat looked perfectly pink and juicy.

Piled onto a lightly toasted baguette with creamy crunchy slaw, pickles and some of their delicious sauce the tender steak melted in your mouth, doing well to hush me up for 5 minutes.

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The second delicacy came from old faithful Ròst;  these guys kill it at The Pitt with their halloumi fries but it was their adventurous meat menu that intrigued me; venison, pheasant, ribs, there was something different and exciting for everyone.

I greedily opted for their fried pheasant burger with crunchy peanut butter; wrapped in a glossy bun, the rich crispy burger nestled happily against the sweet creamy peanut butter and salty bacon with a handful of golden crisps to give an extra crunch with every bite.
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Curious by the ‘meaty’ cocktails upstairs we tried a lethal absinthe concoction that woke me up from my foodie fullnes. We then gravitated towards Tasty Buns Bakery where their stand proudly presented dozens of sweet treats, of course i had to try as many as i could.

Their sweet scotch egg was my favourite; biscoff spread centre surround by gooey white chocolate ganache and coated in chocolate brownie and biscoff crumbs, this alone was enough for me to suss out where they are based to stock up (bread street if you’re wondering). Their Tunnocks caramel wafer brownie was the perfect mix of squidgy brownie and crunchy wafer and the peanut butter caramel cookie sandwhiches were develishly good.

After faces were sufficiently stuffed and tummy’s full we waddled out happy, satisfied and buzzing off the atmosphere of the night; the guys who organise Meats and Beats have hit the nail on the head combining all my favourites thing into one wonderful evening. I will definitely be keeping a look out for their next pop up, wherever that may be.

 

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Wee Buddha

Wee Buddha has been on my list since i accidentally stumbled across it walking back from The Stockbridge Market a couple of years ago; tucked away on Jamaica street the warm and inviting restaurant serves tasty Thai/Scottish fusion food, crisp beers and sharp tangy cocktails. We were given a cosy corner by the window where we ooed and aahed at everything; with an extensive drinks list, plenty of ‘wee hings’ to share and a solid selection of hearty mains there is plenty to chose from.

Starting with cocktails, as per usual, we got a rhubarb wire which was a deliciously sour creation of lemongrass infused vodka, rhubarb liqueur, sweet vermouth, cranberry juice, fresh lime juice and grapefruit juice; my taste buds sang with alcoholic joy.

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The second heavenly delight was a ladyboy martiniwith vanilla infused vodka, kwai feh lychee liqueur, fresh passion fruit, lychee juice, fresh lime and house vanilla syrup. This cocktail comes with a shot of sambuca, and grenadine, in a half a passion fruit, on fire. The guys at Wee Buddha certainly know how to nail flamboyancy at its finest.

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Deciding to share a couple of the starters and then share a main between us meant i could try their haggis wontons, chicken gyoza AND their salt and pepper squid. Just in case you hadn’t picked up it, i am a lil olde greedy guts.

The squid was the perfect balance of salty and spicy; fiery golden circles coated in chilli, garlic and coriander that went far too quickly even though the portion was hefty.

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The chicken gyoza were soft and moist; perfect parcels for dipping in the salty soy sauce dip.

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The haggis wontons were pretty and delicate; the crispy shell was delicious by itself but the combination of the rich denseness of the haggis with the tangy sweet chilli sauce was divine.

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For the main event was a saucy Thai green prawn curry with jasmine rice; served on a board in our own wee pot the curry was fragrant, warming and full of flavour. The prawns were plump and juicy and the veg crisp and plentiful. If it was socially acceptable to lick plates clean then i would have done so.

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To wash down this scrumptious curry we chose a Chang beer and  beer Lao, both were crisp, cold and refreshing; a good accompaniment to a hearty curry.

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The staff at Wee Buddha were so attentive and service was quick meaning we were never left long without fresh drinks or our food; the music was classic after classic and the small restaurant was cosy and lively with the chatter from neighbouring tables. The Wee Buddha satisfied my inner buddha, buddha belly more like, and between the delicious food and lovely staff i will back again ready to try more of their tantalising menu.

 

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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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