Tag Archives: Review

REVIEW: A sunny Saturday at TIGERLILY (George Street)

My rainy Saturday turned surprisingly sunny so I decided to have lunch at Tigerlily with a friend yesterday. To be honest I’ve not been there for years; I’m not a George Street kind of gal and my usual haunts have the quirky speakeasy feel of The Bon Vivant or are the kind of pub frequented by old men.

Let me just start by saying the service isn’t great; we turned up and asked the hostess if we could have our food outside then proceeded to wait for a waitress to come out and bring me a menu. And wait. And then wait some more for our bottle of prosecco.

My Thai coconut chicken dumpling and noodle soup came out with an accompanying Japanese teapot of coconut broth for what turned out to be chicken balls rather than dumplings, a couple strands of rice noodles and julienned vegetables. Don’t get me wrong, dem ‘dumplings’ were delicious, but the broth was rather bland. I liked the idea of the separate teapot for the soup, but would have preferred it left rather than poured for me.

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Instead of a main I went for the whole lobster because I can’t resist lobster when it’s on the menu. I am a huuuuuge seafood fan and there are few things in the world that I would choose to eat over that sweet, sweet meat. The chunky cut chips were a perfect partner, and I can guiltily admit I may have dipped a couple into my pot of garlic butter.

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Unfortunately my phone ran out of juice so I didn’t manage to take any photos of our cocktails (including a very generous piƱa colada) and their take on a strawberry Bellini. I’ll still be going to my usual eccentric, super-chilled lounges and grotty live music venues on a Friday night, but Tigerlily is an undeniably pleasant place to while away a few hours with friends on a Saturday afternoon over cocktails and that sweet, sweet lobster meat…

Tigerlily
125 George Street, Edinburgh
Www.tigerlilyedinburgh.co.uk

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Review: Back to Tuk Tuk (1 Leven Street)

Tomorrow I’ll be leaving for Prague for a 3 night trip; I’m so excited to be headed there again, it’s been over 19 years since I last visited that beautiful city… Not to mention it’s home to one of my absolute favourite buildings, Frank Gehry’s ‘dancing house’. I’ve made a reservation at the restaurant for dinner my first night there.

Today has been a day for running errands; my ‘to do’ list is a mile long but a girl’s gotta eat, so in between packing related mishaps and the gym, I decided to stop for a second take at TukTuk on Leven Street as I was so impressed by their lamb chops earlier in the week I had to try their curry.

I am a huge lover of biryanis, so when my waitress pointed out several new additions to the menu fresh off the press this morning, I was immediately tempted by the Raste ke biryani, described as chicken biryani ‘on-the-bone’. This dish was surpringly sweetly spiced, the chicken was wonderfully tender and full of flavour. This is definitely a dish to try, so different from your garden variety biryanis, with beautiful jewel toned strands of red onion and garnished with boiled egg.

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I also decided to go for the Railway station lamb curry, which is cooked on-the-bone with spinach. Accompanied by a dish of baby aubergine and potato. Now I’m not sure what Indian chefs do to their lamb to make the meat so gloriously tender and succulent but I want their secret! Chock full of lovely spinach and melt-in-the-mouth morsels of meat.

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Unfortunately the baby aubergines were rather bland, with a taste of cumin almost as an afterthought. In fact I got one mouthful that was almost overpoweringly spiced while the rest of the dish was quite dull.

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From my two visits it seems Tuk Tuk do meat very well; meltingly tender and full of flavour. The vegetarian dishes have been less impressive.

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Travel review: FUZZ Wax Bar (Queen Street West, Toronto)

Can I just say, I was loving the ‘wax bar’ phenomenon that seems to be taking place in Toronto? The last time I was there I’m sure there weren’t nearly as many depilatory depositories as there are now! I stopped off at FUZZ Waxbar before dinner one night for a quick half leg wax; I’m fastidious about de-fuzzing usually so try to make a point to wax every ten days or so…whether I need it or not!

Check out the hilariously named products they sell…

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FUZZ was clean, efficient, and my aesthetician Jana was super-fast. My only complaint? Hot (called ‘hard’ in Canada) wax isn’t usually used for legs, but my aesthetician was happy to accommodate when I requested it. She did say strip wax was more efficient for finer, shorter hairs; however it’s not possible to go over an area more than once using strip wax, so it’s six and half a dozen! Not exactly ‘painless’, as I’ve had waxes with less ouch, but she made up for it with speed. And how cute is their sign?!

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Fuzz Wax Bar
701 Queen Street West
(647) 748 3899

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Review: MILK, Morrisson Street

A few weeks ago, after a frustrating morning choosing flooring for the hall, I found myself at a loose end on Morrison street when hunger pangs set in. If I’m honest, the promise of ‘good food fast’ was what enticed me into MILK. That and the laid back diner feel of the place, with its crackle glazed subway tiles, jade green industrial bar stools and quirky repurposed golden syrup tin cutlery holders.

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Spiced apple juice and a lime and mint cooler? Oh yes please?

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My warm slow roasted pork wrap was just what I needed, filled with perfectly seasoned spiced shredded pork and fresh herbs, homemade slaw with just a touch of mayonnaise (I dread the heavily mayo’d coleslaw). I could taste fresh coriander and sweet, crunchy red cabbage, shredded carrots and tender pork…all wrapped in a warm, soft Lebanese flat bread. No complicated flavours, just simple and incredibly fresh.

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I couldn’t resist grabbing a key lime and coconut cupcake to go, which was certainly worth it with a filling of perfectly tangy lime curd and shavings of coconut atop a buttercream frosting. I’m not usually a fan of buttercream, as it’s usually over-sweet and lacking in taste, but this was lovely.

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What a fabulous find, and so close up Haymarket station…

MILK
232 Morrison Street

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Review: Red Squirrel (Lothian Road)

Sunday afternoons are for relaxed eats, and as my flat is currently ‘under construction’, pooch and I took our friend Billy out for a lazy late lunch in the dog-friendly Red Squirrel on Lothian Road.

I opted for the crispy bacon, egg and potato salad to start, the 3 mini slider sharing platter and to finish, the gourmet mac and cheese with caramelised red onions and tomato.

Let’s start with the good…I loved the chilled out vibe of the place, the unassuming yet cool diner decor (reminded me of Pop’s Malt Shoppe from the old Archie comics), and huge burgers are glorious!

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The mini sliders were super cute, and I love the idea of having three different flavours of burger in manageable munchable size.

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The waiter brought us a bowl of water for the wee man and was more than happy to put in an order for a couple sausages for his dinner. Aw, cute!

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And now for the not-so-great…my mac and cheese was nice but very…ordinary. The gruyere was a bit mild, I like my cheesy pasta full of flavour and this one erred too much on the side of subtle. Other than a few flecks of caramelised onion, it was barely discernible, especially from an ingredient that is usually such a bold and distinctive taste.

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My potato salad was huge, but not particularly interesting.

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There are things i really love about the Red Squirrel, but I’d definitely recommend sticking to what they do best – the super tasty burgers.

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Breakfast at Porto and Fi, the Mound (Edinburgh)

The last time I was in Porto and Fi I threw a glass of water in my ex’s face and never got to finish my French toast. He deserved it, but I really wish I’d had a chance to finish my breakfast!

I visited with my parents this morning because my kitchen in currently a work in progress, meaning I have four walls and a ceiling but very little else! My plumber is laying the tiles today (beautiful Fired Earth silver blue slate) so we decided to make a swift exit!

Firstly let’s get the gushing over the fabulous cappuccinos out of the way. Perfectly frothy, creamy foam and smoooooothe coffee. The curvy Danesi coffee cups were lovely too!

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My salmon eggs Benedict were surprisingly light, none of this claggy gloopy nonsense of a hollandaise sauce I’ve been the victim of in less abled kitchens! Free range poached eggs of course!

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Oh and my dad let me sample his baguette French toast, fluffy like a cloud and making me rethink my decision to throw that glass of water at my ex before I finished my breakfast that morning! He still deserved it, but I could have enjoyed my food first!

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Dinner at Tomoe, 62 Marylebone Lane

Due to my mum and dad’s later arrival and my losing myself in Marylebone High Street’s Skandium shop…we had no choice but a late dinner. Recommendation courtesy of Time Out London’s iPhone app. I just hit the ‘find restaurants nearby’ button and found a wee Japanese restaurant near the hotel called Tomoe.

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We are a family of sushi and sashimi lovers, so we ordered some scallop and sea bream sashimi, unagi (eel), fatty tuna and an eel avocado roll. All super fresh, especially the scallop sashimi, which was almost sweet…beautiful!

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The white fish with plum came with a cheek-suckingly tart preserved plum condiment that was intriguing…it was like nothing I’d tasted before, and I have had A LOT of Japanese food in my life! My only complaint would be the amount of preserved plum presented did overpower the fabulous fresh fish. How’s that for illiteration?!

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My dad, the militant meat eater in the family, decided on a stewed pork belly char shu. This came as tender slices of belly, not overly fatty as stewed pork is so prone to be.

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I of course need a noodle course, as I am a carb fiend! Mine was a kitsune udon, a braised and fried bean dish that was full of flavour. Couldn’t fault it, the udon was springy with just enough bite, the broth was savoury and rich, and there was a distinct lack of random vegetables floating lost in a sea of soup. Just plain, simple, tasty food.

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The only disappointing dish of the evening was the chicken teriyaki, which was bland and nondescript. It was reminiscent of takeaway Chinese chicken in a generic sauce, no distinctive teriyaki flavours at all.

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A lovely, unassuming and authentic Japanese dining experience!

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Tomoe
62 Marylebone Lane
http://www.tomoe-London.co.uk

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Marylebone High Street: Fish Works

Fishworks on Marylebone High Street seems like the urban version of Tobermory’s Cafe Fish, a seafood restaurant at the back of a fishmongers.

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I started my late lunch off with a platter of bread served with salsa verde and aioli. I don’t think the bread was home baked, something in the crust told me so. Pleasant enough but a bit bland. I do love the concept of dips for artisan bread as opposed to the plain old standby butter. This would have been beautiful if the aioli were homemade and the salsa verde less uniformly smooth…I like to see and taste texture!

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A half dozen oysters followed – 3 prestige (salt and savoury), 3 Dorset rock (sweet and delicate). The Dorset were so lovely and gentle it would have been wrong to defile with mignonette…the prestige needed a taste of something acidic to cut through the saltiness.

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My main course was a spaghetti with clams, because I am utterly predictable. It’s only of my favourite dishes, and had become over the years one of my ‘yardstick’ meals. It’s simple and unfussy, and relies entirely on the freshness of the (few) ingredients and the talents of the chef to execute well.

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This version included, oddly, a mirepoix (carrots.onions and garlic as a base). A little too oily, possibly not enough butter and too much olive oil, or not enough white wine to cut through.

Nothing extraordinary, but the oysters were lovely. I think sometimes the freshness of the ingredients speak for themselves, but sometimes (in this case anyway) a bit more effort should have been made in the details.

The Fishworks
89 Marylebone High Street W1
http://www.fishworks.co.uk

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Review: Nonna’s kitchen, Morningside

This time last week I was sitting enjoying a macchiato with perfect creamy foam at Nonna’s Kitchen in Morningside, . I had an errand to run at the post office and this was my indulgence for the day – a ‘three course’ Italian lunch.

I have to be in the right sort of mood for pudding, so my three courses included an order of fresh oysters. It was my dad who taught me to enjoy these as a child; and oysters, mussels and giant sweet prawns were on the menu almost as soon as I was on solid food.

I’m the first lunch customer of the day. In fact, I was so early they were still writing the specials on the board!

The waiter here is amazing – the family who own Nonna’s also ran the Patio on Hanover street (though I’m not sure if it’s still there) and the older of the two waiters has a incredible memory. There are usually about twenty specials, starters and mains, and his ability to remember and recite them is pretty damned impressive. This is old-school waiting, none of this ‘I’ll have to check with the kitchen’ nonsense when you ask what the soup of the day is!

As always I decided to go for one of the specials…it seems such a shame not to when they sound so lovely.

I started with half a dozen delicately salty oysters, with just a squeeze of fresh lemon and some black pepper.

This was followed by an intriguing starter of baked avocado with mixed seafood bound in a creamy sauce. I’d never tried baking avocado before, but it was pretty good (may have to try doing this at home), skin and all. Melt-in-your-mouth sweet creamy avocado flesh with savoury, garlicky prawns, clams and scallops with a touch of cream and mozzarella.

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Then came the giant prawn linguine in all it’s glory, with sweet tiger prawns that were truly massive and a fresh chopped tomato sauce garnished with whole roasted cherry toms. None of that oversweetness of a a ready made sauce full of tinned tomatoes, this beautiful stuff was made of fresh tomatoes chopped minutes before the plate came to my table…

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Review: Caffe e Cucina, Morningside Road

I’m sitting in Caffe e Cucina on Morningside road, a new place that opened up in the spot where Loopy Lorna’s used to sit. I love this part of town.

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I live in Bruntsfield for the park, the convenience of school just a 30 minute walk away, the shops and cafes. If I lived in Morningside it would be for the lazy brunches, the wonderful atmosphere (very Alexander McCall Smith), the genteel Morningside ladies and the coffee.

I’ve just started drinking coffee again after a long hiatus. I think what put me off was two years working for the council and the communal tea runs that went with that job. It was dreadful. Seven women gossiping over instant coffee and tea strong enough to set your biscuit on. That was when I first started drinking herbal tea.

But can you really beat a beautifully made coffee?

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I ordered the Involtino di Pollo, chicken stuffed with savoy cabbage, bresaola, fontina and pine nuts. I love the fact they serve lunch foods before noon, because I’ve had a craving for something more exciting than a cooked breakfast at 11am.

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This was some seriously healthy portion! I loved the fact the roulade was less cheese-heavy, with the fresh tastes of the cabbage and crunch of the pine nuts coming through. The verdict is still out on the bean sauce, which may have been a bit superfluous. I did like the contrast with the simple potato, red onion and parsley salad tossed in olive oil.

The staff are lovely, the coffee is beautiful, the place is comfortingly continental. I think I can live with a few extra beans on my plate!

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