Thursday, 21 July 2016

New lunch menu at Jamie's Italian

I was recently asked to try the new 'super lunch' menu at Jamie's Italian on George Street. I say recently, it was nearly two months ago so this is an embarrassingly late write up! But better late than never right?! As luck would have it, hubbys birthday was around the time we were going so the four of us trooped along for an early tea (the lunch menu is served 12-6pm Mon to Friday). 

Straight away we were shown to our table and Paige was handed a kids 'little pack of fun' to keep her occupied. I always breathe a little sigh of relief when I see one of these on the table! It was a good one and even had a little packet of seeds to take away - cool huh?! 

It was 5pm and the lunch menu wasn't out so we did have to specifically ask for it. Hubby and I both dined from this menu and Paige from the kids menu, which I was pleased to see had lots of healthy and yummy options for her. She chose the 'secret seven' hidden veg pasta with a side salad and she loved it. 

I was also pleased that they offer free "fruity water" too so she wasn't high on sugar all evening! She thought she was very grown up. My only comment would be a plastic cup might have been more suitable for a 2 year old as we spent half our time making sure she didn't drop it! 

As the driver, I had a very tasty non alcoholic Mojito.

Being the greedy people we are, we had to order a cheeky wee side of the Italian Nachos - crispy fried ravioli stuffed with mozarella - delicious! I think Paige ate most of them...

We both went for the pate bruschetta to start which was absolutely delicious - up there with the best I've tasted. My pictures really don't do it justice as I was trying to feed Harrison (now 6 months) at the same time!

Scott then went for the Italian Steak and Fries which he enjoyed. It was simple and done well. 

I had a sadly disappointing pesto spaghetti (which I can't find on the menu now so don't know it's proper name) but it was all stuck together in a big dry clump with lots of lemons! It had nice flavour but had maybe been sitting around too long...

Pudding was a winner with us both going for the epic brownie. Super gooey and chocolatey as it should be. After being offered a selection of desserts to be told the chocolate ice lollie she wanted then wasn't available she 'settled' (aka had a total meltdown!) for the chocolate ice cream (have you ever tried explaining to a toddler that chocolate ice cream is the same as a chocolate ice lollie?! Clearly as its not on a stick it's just not the saaaaaaaame!) Just another little comment - check what's available before offering it to a 2 year old. It sounds ridiculous but an inconsolable child can really put a dampener on an otherwise lovely evening! Although maybe this just says more about my lack of parenting skills! 😳

So all in all it was a nice meal and good value for money. It's a stunning restaurant in Assembly Rooms and the service was good. Other than my little moans, it is very child friendly but also big enough to be far away from kids to enjoy a romantic dinner too. Not that I can remember what that's like!!! 😄

Jamie's Italian is located in The Assembly Rooms, 54 George Street. The super lunch menu is £12.95 for two courses or £14.95 for three and is available 12-6pm Monday to Friday. 

Thanks to Jamie's Italian for covering the cost of our food. 

Monday, 16 May 2016

La Belle Assiette - A night in with friends

Those of you who know me, or read my blog from time to time, will know I have 2 young children (2 year old girl and a 4 month baby boy). I absolutely LOVE being a mum, but one of the things I miss most about "life before kids" is having dinner out with friends - eating good food, drinking lots of wine and talking absolute nonsense! So you can imagine my utter delight when I received an email from La Belle Assiette inviting me to host a dinner party with friends in my home...and have an Italian chef come and cook a 3 course meal for us. A no brainer! 

So, on Friday evening that's just what we did. Our chef for the evening was Marco Scire who turned up carrying several bags bursting with lovely fresh food and importantly a bottle of Prosecco! Off he set to work in the kitchen while we welcomed 4 of our very best friends (plus a new addition to the gang who came for a sleepover!) for drinks in the living room. 

And this is where having a chef at home is a huge plus for us. We didn't need a babysitter and we could provide our own drinks making it easy, relaxed and affordable. I also didn't have to spend the day prepping and cooking. Another bonus for me having young kids. 

We started our dinner with an aperitif of Aperol Spritz with Parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper twists which got us in the mood for a fun night. 

Amazing smells were coming from my kitchen (way better than usual!) so I went to investigate and found Chef plating up our starter of Grilled Polenta, asparagus, squashed cherry tomatoes with olives and a balsamic and truffle reduction. 

It was a beautiful bright summery plate and deliciously light starter:

More amazing smells, this time in the form of lamb rump marinaded in pomegranate molasses served with roasted vegetables and salsa verde. It was truly some of the best lamb I've tasted and this was echoed around the table (and my dad is a lamb farmer so that's saying a lot!) It was served medium rare which suited us all, however, we were given the choice to have it cooked more. 

Full to the brim with delicious food and wine, I ventured back into the kitchen to have a nosey at what was next. (Greedy some might say!?) We were presented with a beautifully light panacotta with salted caramel popcorn. It finished off the meal perfectly. 

With prices starting at £39pp La Belle Assiette is a great option for a different way of dining with friends or family. We had such a brilliant night in the comfort of our home and it freed me up to join in the conversation rather than running back and forward to the kitchen all evening. And as if all that wasn't enough, Marco cleaned the kitchen and did the dishes - what's not to love!! We will definitely be doing this again. 

With thanks to Chef Marco and La Belle Assiette for a lovely evening.

Friday, 1 April 2016

New(ington) kid on the block

Sadly I was unable to make it along to the bloggers event of new restaurant and bar Southpour on Newington Road. Judging by their Twitter feed photos it looked like I missed a fab afternoon!  However, I went along with my family on opening day to try it out and I'm glad I did. News of the new arrival had clearly spread as it was packed and buzzing when we arrived - thankfully we booked a  table. The staff must have thought I'd been sent to test them as I arrived with hubby, toddler and a 2 month old baby! 

We were shown to our table by our friendly waiter who kindly gave Paige some lovely brand new toys and books. A huge big 'tick' from me straight away. 

Coffee was good!

Paige's starter was a mug of delicious homemade mushroom and sweet potato soup. Finally! A kids menu that doesn't consist of chicken nuggets.

Paige's Fish & Chips with mushy peas was lovely (and I don't really like fish!). Fresh and light crispy batter. 

My Macaroni Cheese with n'duja sausage was cheesy, spicy and creamy - delicious. 

Hubby went for the steak sandwich and added a mug of soup. Yum! 

As if we didn't have enough to eat we got some potato skins with haggis and cheese. What's not to like?! 

If you're looking for a family friendly lunch spot or after work drinks, this new addition gets my thumbs up. With weekend entertainment and lunch deals from £5 I'm sure Southpour will do great in its new home. 

1-5 Newington Road

Monday, 30 November 2015

An early festive family lunch at Frankie & Benny's

I've found over the last couple of years that my blog has become a bit less about sharing excellent Edinburgh restaurants and more about family friendly high street chains. The reason? My daughter Paige, who in the blink of an eye is now 2. And kids don't come cheap so I find myself looking for places with money saving deals and vouchers, of which there are plenty. 

Gone seem to be the days where I was feasting on a fine dining menu at Harvey Nicks and Contini Cannonball.  Now you're more likely to find me wolfing down a pizza and sporting a Christmas cracker hat across the table from my daughter while trying to draw daddy yet again with the free crayons! It's all a bit against my ethos for feeding my child - I'm not a fan at all of 'kids menus' which are generally dried up fried food with chips. However, there does seem to be a place for this kind of restaurant that caters for families and allow my husband and I to eat a hot meal without too much trouble! Admittedly it's partly laziness - I know when I walk into these places we will be welcomed with a highchair, some kind of free entertainment for Paige (in the shape of aforementioned crayons!) and quick service. Anyone with experience of dining out with a toddler knows that speed is the name of the game! 

My tastebuds might not always be grateful but the rest of me is. Grateful that I have a need for "family friendly" high street restaurant chains because I know how fortunate I am to have my lovely little family. And that brings me to my latest experience at Frankie and Benny's. Less about the food and more about the experience for the kids...

We were joined by grandparents, cousins and uncle on a cold November Sunday afternoon at Fort Kinnaird for a family get together to try F&Bs new Christmas menu (2 Courses £16.95, 3 courses £19.95 - kids also eat free on Boxing Day)

Our table was filled with balloons, crackers, streamers and party poppers which the kids were thrilled about and it set a nice party tone for our lunch. I absolutely adore Christmas so I was also delighted! 

The festive menu is an interesting mix of traditional mixed with the usual F&Bs offering, so something for everyone. I opted for the buttermilk chicken tenders with rocket and a salsa verde Mayo to start. They were nice and crispy, however, the rocket had gone slightly mushy by the time they arrived at the table. 

Hubby went for the Mac N' Cheese Cake - a crumbed macaroni cheese cake drizzled with BBQ sauce and topped with coleslaw. He seemed happy with it and the presentation was nice. 

For main I thought I'd try something a little different so I opted for the Mushroom & Courgette Wellington - puff pastry filled with mushrooms and courgette with a hint of brandy, served with rosemary roasted potatoes, minted butter vegetables and a mushroom and white wine sauce. 

What arrived was sadly on the disappointing side. The pastry was more like shortcrust to me and the mountain of wrinkled veg looked a little sorry for itself. However, my dining experience seemed to be in the minority amongst our party as everyone was happy - perhaps I just chose poorly. 

Hubby had the Rigatoni Meatballs Italiano - juicy meatballs, red and green chilli, lemon zest, red onion, rigatoni pasta and Neapolitan sauce baked in the oven and topped with a crunchy cheese crumb. More the kind of thing F&Bs does best. 

There was no festive kids menu so they all ended up dining off the usual kids menu of burgers, pizza, sausages, chips etc. No complaints from them! I wasn't able to manage a dessert so I went for a salted caramel hot chocolate instead (which was really a dessert) and it was yummy if a little messy! All in all we had a very pleasant afternoon. The staff were welcoming, friendly and attentive and the atmosphere is great if you're planning a family or office Christmas bash. 

Writing this blog has started a bit of a mission. To find myself in excellent Edinburgh restaurants again that welcome families too but don't limit her food choice to fried/oven type food. Your suggestions are very welcome! 

*Thank you to Frankie & Bennys at The Fort for providing a voucher to try their new festive menu*

Friday, 16 October 2015

Family feast at Brewers Fayre Craig House

I was recently invited along to the Brewers Fayre at Craig House on the outskirts of Edinburgh (well Musselburgh). Not my usual hang out but with a 2 year old we find ourselves in these kind of family restaurants a bit more often nowadays and are regularly disappointed with the soggy fried food on offer. But I was very pleasantly surprised with the lovely dinner we had here. 

With an extremely warm welcome we were showed to our table in the cosy restaurant, overlooking the gardens and outdoor kids play park (had it not been evening and freezing we would have ventured out). Paige was given crayons and a magazine to colour in. A nice touch. 

The menu has your usual "pub grub" favourites on offer: burgers, curries, fish, steaks, pasta etc but also has a different themed buffet each evening, for example, Mexican, curry, chip shop, pizza. On this particular evening it was Chip Shop. It looked really nice but we opted for something else. Here's what we had...

To start:

Spicy potato dippers (£2.79)

Garlic and parsley breaded mushrooms (£3.29)

Southern chicken goujons (£3.99)

Paige also got a starter with her kids menu (from £3.99) of vegetable sticks with dip. Often some dried up carrot, but this was a lovely fresh array of peppers, cucumber, carrot and celery sticks. She was impressed and ate almost all of it! 

Everything was really fresh and crispy with an array of dips to accompany them. Paige loved the chicken! And yes that was a lot of food for the three of us, however, I was kindly told when ordering that I'd be cheaper getting an additional starter as they were 2 for £2.50 - a bargain! 

Already quite full, our mains arrived. I went for one of the new curries on the menu - a chicken balti and hubby ordered the Ultimate sausage and mash with a giant Yorkshire pudding (£8.49)

My curry was delicious (genuinely better than some Indian take aways I've had!) and was served with a crisp popodom, mango chutney, light naan bread and rice.(£8.29)

Paige's spaghetti bolognaise arrived with peas and garlic bread which I barely expected her to look at after our starters but you guessed it, she ate the lot! We've never seen her eat so much! 

Never one to shy away from dessert, I went for the Cadburys Indulgence sundae (£4.29). It was huge and scrummy and completely unnecessary, however, I was ably assisted by my ice-cream-loving partner in crime, Paige. 

All our drinks (including Costa coffees) were free self serve re-fills too. Great service from very friendly staff and brilliant value for money. For a family friendly out of town restaurant with plenty of parking - this place hits the spot perfectly. 

Brewers Fayre
Carberry Road, Inveresk 

Friday, 18 September 2015

Duck's Inn - An East Lothian Gem

I've always loved East Lothian, so any excuse for a sunset drive along the Gullane Coast to try out a restaurant with a brilliant reputation, and I don't take much persuasion.

The restaurant in question was award-winning Duck's Inn in Aberlady, owned by Malcolm Duck. 

I received a very warm welcome as I found my way through the cosy lounges to Donald's Bistro, where I was shown to a lovely candlelit table for two to await my dining companion for the evening, Katie.  

The owner Malcolm, an extremely pleasant gentleman, came to say hello and tell us about the two menus on offer that evening from Head Chef Michal Mozdzen.  There was the a la carte menu, which we went for, and the fixed price (which comes in at a very reasonable £18.50 for 3 courses).  I always think it's such a nice touch when the owner makes an effort to say hello, and he went round every single table that evening, not just ours.  Before I'd eaten a thing, I'd fallen in love with the place.

We were both so looking forward to having a good old natter over delicious food, and that's exactly what we did. Sadly, being pregnant I couldn't enjoy any of beautiful wines on offer time!

So, here what I went for:

Starter: Smoked Salmon, beetroot, herb, Katy Rodgers Crème Fraiche (£9.50)

It was heavenly!  A really generous portion size with beautiful smoked salmon and the creme fraiche went perfectly with it.  It was nice to have a mix of the two types of beetroot too.  Delicious!  I was excited for main course...

Main Course: Glazed Short Rib of Tweed Valley Beef, mash potato, caramelised shallots, pickled mustard seeds, red wine jus (£24.50)

I have to apologise for my poor photography, which does not do the food justice at all.  My main course was amazing - the tender beef came away from bone so easily and melted in the mouth.  It was cooked to perfection.  We ordered a side of green beans and salad too which went nicely with the dish.  

Dessert: Valrhona Chocolate Marquise with blackberries, honeycomb (£8.50)

Absolutely stuffed, I wasn't going to have a dessert but when faced with this on the menu, I couldn't say no.  It was rich and creamy and the sorbet on top (which I think was blackberry) went perfectly.  I have to admit I couldn't finish it...sadly.  

Katie opted for the Charred Port Seton Mackerel, pickled cucumber, fennel, dill vinaigrette (£7.50) followed by the rib eye steak.  

For dessert, Katie went for the Caramel Parfait, apple, toffee walnut from the Fixed Price Menu. 

As if we hadn't had enough to eat - the petit fours we received with coffee were a dessert in themselves, and as delicious as everything else we ate that evening!

A huge thumbs up from me for Duck's and I cannot wait to return. I have been raving about it to anyone who will listen!

Duck's Inn
Main Street
EH32 0RE