Tag Archives: Food

Eats | Chop Chop

Chop Chop Edinburgh Chop Chop Edinburgh

Chop Chop is a bit of an Edinburgh institution. Ask anyone for a recommendation for a Chinese restaurant in the city and Chop Chop will probably be quite high up on the list. However, despite living just round the corner from their Haymarket restaurant I had never been. Shame on me, I know. So I was delighted to be invited along recently to finally see what all the fuss is about.

As is recommended to first-timers at Chop Chop, we went for the unlimited banquet for two – along with a couple of Tsingtao beers of course.

Chop Chop Edinburgh Chop Chop Edinburgh Chop Chop Edinburgh Chop Chop Edinburgh

The set banquet included two options of the dumplings that Chop Chop is so known for – boiled pork and coriander dumplings and fried prawn dumplings. Both were incredibly flavoursome, showing that when dumplings are done well, they’re a pretty perfect dish. A fun touch was that on the table there were ingredients to make your own dipping sauce. I accidentally went a bit heavy on the chilli, but luckily for me, we had a cooling cucumber salad to fight the burn. Alongside this was crispy Northern beef, seasoned chicken wings, crispy squid and aubergine as well as boiled rice and prawn crackers.

My favourite dishes were the cucumber salad, the Northern beef (in fact we had two helpings) and the squid. The beef had a deliciously sweet and sticky sauce while the meat was still tender and not at all chewy which can often be the downfall of these types of dishes. Similarly, the squid was perfectly cooked with a brilliantly crispy coating and I also really enjoyed the green beans that accompanied the dish. A surprise for me was the aubergine. I usually hate aubergine – something about the sludgey-ness of it puts me off, but this one won me over. It’s never going to win any beauty pageants but Chop Chop’s aubergine dish was cooked just enough with a really tasty garlic and spring onion dressing. I never thought I’d say it, but I liked it.

Chop Chop Edinburgh

We were pretty full by the time we got to desserts but we did manage one more dumpling – a chocolate ice cream dumpling. Perfectly sized if you’re someone like me who has to fit in the sweet hit of a pudding even if your stomach is telling you not to! Hot crispy outer, cold creamy inner. Very nice.

I had lots of fun at Chop Chop. The staff are fantastic as well, clearing and replacing dishes promptly and one even showed me how to use chopsticks properly after some good-natured teasing at my lack of skill. This adds to Chop Chop’s relaxed atmosphere where the focus is on making sure you don’t go home hungry. My tip would be to go with an empty stomach – it’ll soon be filled with a wide range of tasty treats!

Chop Chop also has a restaurant in Leith so they have both ends of the city covered, and they do a free membership scheme where you can get discounts and vouchers. The unlimited banquets are £20.25 per person which I think is pretty good considering the quality of the food. I would encourage you to try something on the menu that you’re not sure about, it will pay off for sure. Chop Chop is a great restaurant for sharing a meal with a big group of friends or family so we’ll definitely be back.


*Disclaimer – we were invited along to Chop Chop for a complimentary meal but were not asked to write a positive review. All opinions are our own and reflect our experience.

Eat Drink Discover Scotland 2014

Eat Drink Discover Scotland

One thing I think we can all agree on is that Scotland has some pretty awesome food. Forget about your stereotypes of deep fried Mars Bars and Irn Bru (forgive me Bru, I love you really), Eat Drink Discover Scotland showcases Scottish cuisine at its best, it’s freshest and it’s most creative. For me and David, it was a chance to treat ourselves so we headed along to the Royal Highland Centre last Sunday with empty bellies and full wallets, planning to reverse this sharpish.

Eat Drink Discover ScotlandEat Drink Discover Scotland Eat Drink Discover Scotland

The exhibition hall was divided in geographical regions, from Orkney to the Borders, with a bonus island of “Chocolate Zone” as well as a couple of stages with chefs demonstrating recipes, an education area, and a masterclass area. We didn’t sign up for any masterclasses, but we did enjoy wandering through the stall, listening in to some of the presentations and chatting to the exhibitors. Between trying samples and filling our shopping bags we also stopped for a buffalo burger from The Buffalo Farm in Fife and a scoop of my favourite honeycomb ice cream from Mackies from the Grampian area.

Wanna see what we bought?

Eat Drink Discover Scotland haul

Predictably it includes chocolate, cheese and cake.

Eat Drink Discover Scotland Haul

This caramel shortcake cheesecake from the Handmade Cheesecake Company in Ayr is without a doubt, the best cheesecake I have ever eaten in my life. The BEST. EVER. IN MY WHOLE LIFE. Really. It was perfect. And that caramel sauce – oh holy hell, that was beyond perfect. It was dream-like. Luckily for us, they deliver nationwide. Who will send me a profiterole cheesecake for my birthday? Profiteroles! On a cheesecake! I need it!!

Eat Drink Discover Scotland hau

OK. I’ve calmed down now. But only slightly, because Mackies is making chocolate now! They had a wee deal so I got all four flavours. I would say that the traditional milk chocolate one is not that special but the rest are amazing, especially the dark and the mint. I can see the mint bar being a regular addition to my shopping basket.

Eat Drink Discover Scotland Haul

To Orkney and obviously I had to try some cheese and oatcakes. I can’t get enough smoked cheese in my life so we picked up some from The Island Smokery. Very nice indeed! But you can’t eat cheese by itself so we also purchased some rough oatcakes from Stockans and for a fancy addition, some pate from Castle MacLellan all the way over in Dumfries and Galloway.

Eat Drink Discover Scotland Haul

Over in the Edinburgh section, David was drawn to these little sachets from Flavour Magic. The Chilli and the Smoked packets are flavour infused rock salt for jazzing up your cooking and they pack a lot of flavour in there. We’ve had the smoked rock salt on steak last week and it was lush! The Togarashi is a Japanese spice blend that is wonderfully complex and unique. Both the Togarashi and the Chilli have an intense afterburn! Great for spice lovers as the heat hits you after the flavour has a chance to build, so the flavour is not overpowered – very impressive.

Eat Drink Discover Scotland Haul

From Perthshire we got these absolutely delicious oils and dressings. It was a mix and match selection so we got a cold pressed rapeseed oil and two dressings – chilli and red pepper and apple and walnut. These are seriously good! I’ve been having the chilli dressing drizzled over spaghetti for a super quick dinner and it’s just lovely.

Eat Drink Discover Scotland Haul

Lastly I got some coconut ice from Handmade Tempting Treats in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs area. Love coconut ice. Yum yum yum yum yum.

Didn’t we get a good selection? I was also tempted by the Edinburgh Gin stall, the cider and alll the meat, but I had to control myself. Overall, it was a great day out. Buy local! It’s good.

Eats | The Huxley

The Huxley Edinburgh

Located at the west end of Princes St, The Huxley is a bar that I’ve always passed but never gone in. Well no more! Last week, on a bit of a rainy day, me and David popped in on the hunt for burgers and cocktails – as we always are!

The Huxley Edinburgh

The menu is not massively extensive, but it certainly doesn’t disappoint. The Huxley is known for it’s burgers and especially for it’s hotdogs. On this occasion though, we both went for a steak burger.

The Huxley Edinburgh

Oh. My. Word! This is the Piggy burger – a steak mince burger with pulled pork, maple glazed bacon and pork scratching crumbs. Truly, a big dirty, greasy burger. It really hit the spot. Recently I’ve been big on pulled pork and this one easily measured up against all the rest. I enjoyed the sweetness of the bacon but mostly I loved the crunch that the pork scratching added, the first time I’ve had this on a burger. This mountain of food was only £8.50, cheaper than we were expecting but with no compromise on quality.

The Huxley Edinburgh

For drinks we went all out. I started with a Kentucky Threesome – Makers Mark bourbon, mint and sweet cherry. I actually didn’t enjoy it, the cherry was over-powered by a oddly strong orange peel so it wasn’t what I expected. I followed this up with the far more successful Cool Rummings which was a blend of rum, tropical juice and garnished with sweet passion fruit. David started with a classic Innis & Gunn swiftly followed by a Grape Gatsby martini with elderflower and Absolut Kurrant which went down far too easily.

Gourmet burgers are very much in vogue at the moment with more and more burger joints popping up in Edinburgh. The Huxley more than holds it’s own against the newbies. It’s a trendy atmosphere with very reasonable prices, and comfortable surroundings. I loved the burger but the next time I go back I’ll definitely be hitting up the hotdog options – chilli cheese dog, get in ma belly!

Where is your favourite burger joint? I wanna try them all!

Degustabox | August

August Degusta Box Review

Last month after umpteen beauty boxes I decided that it was time to try something a bit different and signed up for Degustabox. If you haven’t heard of it, Degustabox is a monthly delivery of a mystery food package delivered to your door for £12.99 including delivery. Apparently there is an option to receive an alcohol free box. I didn’t see this, but I didn’t look too hard, alcohol is all good in my book, but good to know that there is an option there. So check out what I got:

August Degusta Box Review

It’s a pretty packed box. There was also a fair amount of bubble wrap in it to protect the content which is a good sign.

August Degusta Box Review

I got two packs of Brioche Pasquier – croissants and pains au lait. They’re both pretty nice, but essentially the same. I would have been happier if one was pain au chocolat for example. On the contents list, you do get a recipe for brioche and butter pudding so I might give this a go with the pain au lait. Will let you know how it goes!

August Degusta Box Review

I received two Flavour Shots from Schwartz – Spanish chicken and Mexican fajitas. I’ve never had these before but they look pretty good. Fajitas are a fairly staple meal in my house so I’m sure they’ll get used soon.

August Degusta Box Review

This is a healthier version of a lunchbox juice carton for kids. I tried this and you can tell that it is blended with water, it was less strong and less sweet than the from concentrate I’m used to but that’s certainly a good thing.

August Degusta Box Review

BerryWhite (teehee) is a range of fancy organic drinks with superfruits and healthy extracts. This one was goji berries, peaches, white tea and echinacea. It wasn’t to my taste, but it was drinkable and I suppose it would be good for fighting colds!

August Degusta Box Review

Yum, chocolate! I love Lindt and these little chocolate hearts were the usual silky, creamy, deliciousness.

August Degusta Box Review

Now these are a bit different! Wafer cupcake cases that you can bake in then eat. I’m looking forward to trying these, especially that they are self supporting, since I don’t have a cupcake tray.

August Degusta Box Review

These were my favourite item of the box. Priced at just £1 for a large bag, I wasn’t really expecting much but I was so pleasantly surprised. The ingredients are corn, sunflower oil and salt. And that’s it! They are light and fresh and some of the best tortilla chips I’ve ever had. Definitely will be picking these up again.

August Degusta Box Review

Woo, strawberry daiquiri! I’ve actually had this before and it’s a good Saturday night drink if you’re too lazy for mixers.

August Degusta Box Review

Lastly, this is a new addition to the Degustabox family. Degusta Freezer is a coupon for a fridge item that cannot otherwise be posted. This one was for a MOMA muesli and yoghurt 4 pack. It’s a nice idea but unfortunately only redeemable at Sainsbury’s and Waitrose so I don’t think I’ll actually use this. A bit disappointing really.

I enjoyed this box overall, but not enough to stay subscribed. I might try another in the future or perhaps try Flavourly which is a bit more upmarket. What do you think about Degustabox?

Eats | The Stockbridge Restaurant

The Stockbridge Restuarant

Stockbridge is a veritable hive of trendy bars, cool boutiques and fancy restaurants, so there is some stiff competition for attention down those well maintained streets. The Stockbridge Restaurant stands out by keeping it simple. No gimmicks, no pretence, just good food, good wine and a good atmosphere. Nestled in a basement property on St Stephen Street, look out for the fairy lights leading you in and setting the mood.

We were invited along last week and offered the “Chef’s Choice”. We told them a few foods we don’t eat and how we like our meat cooked but otherwise the choices were left entirely up to the chef, Jason Gallagher. I wouldn’t say I’m a fussy eater, but I’m not particularly adventurous, unlike my dining partner, so I was looking forward to this experience.

The stockbridge Restaurant review

I don’t think that bread normally warrants a mention in a restaurant review, but in this case, it does. The bread was freshly baked that morning and tasted delicious, but the real star was the chive and chervil dip that came with it. So fresh and light tasting, it was ideal for whetting our appetite.

The stockbridge Restaurant review

This was followed by a perfectly proportioned amuse-bouche of seranno ham, mozzarella and tomato. A classic combination that was much appreciated.

The stockbridge Restaurant reviewThe stockbridge Restaurant review

Starters were cod with chips and tartar sauce and scallops with butternut squash puree, apple salsa, walnuts and serrano ham. The fish ‘n’ chips as a starter was a bit of fun but with no compromise on the quality. Soft, flaky fish, crisp batter and well cooked chips, it was better than some I’ve seen served as a main meal. Meanwhile, the scallop dish played into my sweet tooth perfectly. The sweet, plump scallops were well balanced by the tart, crisp apple, chewy walnuts and smooth puree. A definite winner.

The stockbridge Restaurant review The stockbridge Restaurant review

For mains, David had the Gressingham duck breast with a duck sausage roll, potato terrine and Savoy cabbage and bacon. As he didn’t say much while he wolfed it down, I think we can take that as a good sign! I did get out of him that the duck was perfectly cooked and that the dish was very flavoursome. He enjoyed the sausage roll, again another playful touch that showed that fine dining should be fun as well as satisfying.

I had the rack of lamb with braised lamb flank, roast potatoes, peas and spinach. I don’t normally eat a lot of lamb, I’ve only had it a handful of times and in fact, I think this was the only time I’ve really enjoyed it. The lamb rack was cooked to medium and was incredibly tender. This was a dish that I wouldn’t have necessarily tried so I’m glad that this was picked for me as it was very tasty – I’m a lamb convert now thanks to Jason!

The stockbridge Restaurant review

After all that rich meat, we were given a palette cleanser of a passion fruit sorbet before dessert. Zingy and refreshing, it was exactly what we needed.

The stockbridge Restaurant review The stockbridge Restaurant review

For dessert, David was treated to a plum and nut crumble with praline ice cream and vanilla sauce, while I had the banana tart tatin with vanilla ice cream and butter scotch sauce. The caramelised bananas with the cold ice cream and hot sauce was heavenly – like an upmarket banoffee pie. David’s plum crumble was a tasty nod to the upcoming autumnal season and again, went down very well.

I can highly recommend The Stockbridge Restaurant as an exceptional dining experience with a warm atmosphere – perfect for a romantic date night. The hospitality was first class and we were made to feel very welcome by the proprietor, Jane and her team. There are lots of little touches that make it that little bit special including listing their suppliers on the menu and adapting the menu and wine list seasonally. It is an ideal choice for a special occasion or if you just want to treat yourself. Go on, you deserve it!


*Disclaimer – we were invited along to The Stockbridge Restaurant but were not asked to write a positive review. All opinions are our own and reflect our experience.


Eats | TGI Fridays #BurgerBlindDate

TGI Fridays

“Are you ready to MEAT the love of your life?” If the love of my life is a big juicy burger, then yes, yes I am. Last week TGI Friday’s hosted a Burger Blind Date night at their newly reopened Castle Street restaurant in Edinburgh. The concept of the evening was absolutely fabulous. Instead of a traditional menu, the burgers were described by their sauciest traits and we had to pick the one that tickled our fancy.

TGI Fridays

Fun right? We also ordered cocktails and excitedly awaited our dates.

TGI Cocktails

My dining partner went for a (large) frozen Strawberry Daiquiri. Very large! Not being one to resist a sweet cocktail I went for a frozen Bubblegum Daiquiri with a popping candy rim. This one was not available in the supersize option but it was so sweet I think the larger size would have been instant diabetes. Both cocktails were really tasty. We had them finished long before our meals arrived.

TGI Cocktails

After at least an hour, our burgers still hadn’t arrived so we ordered more drinks. I asked for a Lynchburg Lemonade (a classic, and done well) and Louise went for a Gremlin on the recommendation of the waiter – Midori, Chambord and Black Vodka: super strong but surprisingly nice.

BurgerBlindDate Burger Blind Date

Firstly, I must apologise for the poor quality photos here. My excuse is that our food was brought to the table at 8:30, two hours after we arrived and we were starving! We were honestly beginning to feel stood up by meat. Not a good first impression. Anyway, Louise went for Contestant #6. A plain and simple burger with a mustard mayo sauce. Unfortunately, the waiter did not explain what we were getting (they seemed a bit stressed at this point) but looking at the menu it is the Classic American burger.

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Haha, you can’t even see the burger in this photo! Here, look at my chips! I went for Contestant #2, lured in by the promise of Jack Daniels sauce. I wasn’t disappointed and it turned out that my date was the Friday’s Double Glazed Jack Daniels burger. The candied bacon and the JD sauce were really delicious and just about made up for the tardiness. I also really enjoyed the fact that the burgers come on glazed brioche buns (yum, more sugar!) and you get a more than generous portion of fries.

The evening was sadly overshadowed by the poor organisation of the event. I believe that they simply invited too many people to arrive at the same time. With everyone expecting burgers and cocktails, it’s no wonder that the drinks took half an hour to arrive and the food 90 minutes and over. We were sat at a large table with two girls who had arrived 20 minutes early and they were waiting far less time than us for their first round of drinks and food, demonstrating how much easier it would have been to have staggered arrivals. It also kind of felt like the hosts gave up halfway through. As I mentioned, we weren’t told what our food actually was, we also weren’t told what was going to happen with the photos that were taken throughout the night. At the beginning they said that we’d get printed copy of our “BurgerFace” picture which never materialised and also that we’d be entered into a competition for best BurgerFace. I’m not fussed about the printout, but I have no idea who won, or how they would be notified as the photographer didn’t take our names. Luckily, neither of us had work the next day, otherwise I think we would have been even more fed up.

This is a real shame as the idea behind the night was really fun and creative. I enjoyed my food and my drinks when they did arrive but sadly it reminded me why I tend to avoid places like this on busy Friday and Saturday evenings. I’m sure I will go back to TGI Friday’s, but just on a day when I know I’m not in a hurry. Or particularly hungry.

Eats | The Magnum Bar & Restaurant

The Magnum

Last week on a gloriously sunny Tuesday evening, David and I headed along to check out The Magnum Bar & Restaurant in Edinburgh’s New Town. Apparently this place used to be a regular haunt of David’s dad in his younger years, but we weren’t really sure what to expect.

The blurb on the website says: “At the Magnum we combine Scotland’s best local ingredients with traditional flavours. We serve classic Scottish dishes alongside fresh seasonal game and seafood.” Sounds promising.

We were seated in the back dining room. It was a quiet evening with just a few other tables taken  although many more people were seated outside enjoying a glass of wine or two in the sunshine. The waiting staff were very friendly and helpful, giving us extra details about the menu and providing a swift service. There are two menus available in the evenings at The Magnum – the bar menu and the main dinner menu and we could mix and match from either.

Starter 01 Magnum

For starters David had goats cheese mousse with a trio of beetroot, radish and pea shoot salad and a balsamic reduction. It was interesting to see beetroot done in different ways and David said that the tartness of the beetroot cut through and balanced out the creamy goats cheese.

Magnum starter 2

This epic dish was my starter, not a main! I had pan fried pigeon breast with salad, pine nuts, sultanas and a quails egg. I’ve never had pigeon or quails egg so I was a little hesitant, but after the first tentative bite I was glad that I went for something new. This was a fantastic introduction for me to game bird. The meat was plump and rich and was complemented by the juicy sultanas. The texture was complemented by the crisp salad and bacon and the crunchy pine nuts. A really well thought out, fully realised dish.

Magnum main 1

David’s main was chicken breast with black pudding mousse, champ mash and a mange tout and thyme sauce. The chicken was tender and juicy with a flavourful sauce. David also really enjoyed the black pudding, saying it was his favourite part of the dish.

Magnum Main 2

From the bar menu, I went for the tempura battered haddock with chips and aioli. The chips were double fried to lovely and crispy. The tempura batter made the dish a lot lighter than normal fish ‘n’ chips and the haddock was obviously fresh. I was really impressed with this dish, it is standard bar food, but done really well. I would definitely put The Magnum high on my list of go to places for fish ‘n’ chips.

Magnum Dessert 1

Dessert was a tough choice as we were already so full but luckily The Magnum has a number of lighter options for those who just can’t resist a sweet. David had the Pimms jelly with poached strawberries and a basil and cucumber sorbet. Quite simply, this was a Pimms as a dessert. The sorbet was something else! Unusual but deliciously refreshing, it was perfect for a summer evening.

Magnum Dessert 2

I went for the simple choice of a trio of ice cream – I had vanilla, strawberry and cream and rosemary and honey. I’m not usually a big fan of strawberry ice cream but this was a bit different as it retained the tanginess of fresh strawberries instead of having a bland artificial taste. The real star was the rosemary and honey scoop. Again, this demonstrates The Magnum’s flair for flavour combinations. The rosemary is subtle and complements the honey flavour. It’s a thinner consistency than the vanilla and strawberry, but I ate it all before it melted, so that’s OK!

Overall, we both really enjoyed our meal at The Magnum and I would really recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for good, Scottish grub. They describe themselves as classic and traditional, which they are (as is the setting) but there is a definite modern spin on the dishes. It sits in a mid-range price bracket with starters and desserts under £7 and mains £12 – £20. The price for the above three course meal for two  with two drinks each (vodka & cokes for me, bottled beer for David) was £72.85. We’ll definitely be visiting again and have already been encouraging David’s dad to go and rediscover his old stomping ground.

*Disclaimer – we were invited along to The Magnum for a complimentary meal but were not asked to write a positive review. All opinions are my own and reflect how much I genuinely enjoyed my meal!