Mark Greenaway – New Beginnings

After the much publicised closure of Mark Greenaways restaurant at Piccardy Place we always waited with baited breath to find out where he was heading to. From his words at the Foodies Christmas Fair to his updates on twitter he was giving nothing away. So clandestine was this becoming that a head chef from another restaurants comment on twitter that he looked forward to having Mark as a neighbour lead to the rumour he was off to the Royal Mile. Then, just two weeks ago, he announced his new location as 67 North Castle Street the site of a former Italian Restaurant and once upon a time an RBS branch.

I was delighted to have a reason for booking for opening weekend, as Stephs parents are in town for their birthday weekend and we couldn't think of anywhere we would rather take them. So roughly 3 minutes after the announcement of the new restaurant was made I had my reservation request sent. Roll on two weeks and last night was the night I've been waiting for, all the more eagerly after such positive comments from those who attended the launch party and Yelpers Jackie.G and Claire.L who were there for opening night.

The first thing that strikes you upon entering in that all of the staff have stayed with Mark, infact he confirmed later he didn't lose any of his staff despite being closed for 7 weeks. Once seated you soon see that Mark and his team have been able to recreate the wonderful ambiance they had at Piccardy Place. To the menu and from the à la carte it was good to see he has kept the favourites while also introducing something new to lift the menu further.

Once we had ordered, the sommelier Loic who we have gotten to know was kind enough to show us his new wine vault, with this having been an RBS the original vault in the basement remains. Given how little time they have has to prepare its amazing how much they have achieved. The wood work and the style they have given this room is really impressive. Loic explained that they intend to further develop the vault and diners will be able to select their wines with an illustrated world map on the wall providing further details. Loic will also be on hand advising and giving diners tasting samples of suggested pairing wines.

As soon as we sat down we were presented with our amuse bouchée, as espuma of shallots. Can't say much about this other than it was delicious. Slight sweetness with earthy undertones it was a great way to start our meal.

For my starter I chose the pave of pigs cheek, served with warm apple jelly, apple purée a flavoured meringue, the pave is wrapped in beetroot carpaccio. This is a dish which has gone through a few developments since I first had it at the Great British Menu party and its only gotten better. The balance of the deep flavour of the cheek with apple and beetroot is superb. It's a dish I would happily order again and again.

For my main I went for the tasting of lamb. Succulent tender lamb, deep jus, aromatic rosemary, buttery mash and earthy brussel sprouts…….delicious! The lamb came three ways, a loin chop, a piece of filet and some leg. The flavour of the lamb was just incredible, the seasoning brought out the taste as much as any producer could hope for.

To finish I decided to revisit a favourite of mine the broken citrus taste. This dish simply put is a work of art in appearance and just as tasty. The zing of the parfait is beautifully matched by the coconut, watermelon cubes clean the palate and the pistachio purée adds another dimension when combined. After dinner Loic was also kind enough to take me back to the vault and give me a sample of the most incredible muscat I have ever tasted, larger quantities will be required when my dry January has finished.

All in all the meal was superb, Stephs parents were delighted and then even more so when they had a good ten minute chat with the man himself Mr Greenaway. Mark is such a friendly guy and willingness to chat to customers at the end of a service does him great credit. With the excitement that has surrounded this opening I can say the product more than lives up the hype. Undoubtedly they have a lot of work to do but with Marks inventive cooking and the team he has around him I am confident this new venture will be a massive success.

Restaurant Mark Greenaway comes highly JD Recommended!



Scottish Produce with a Taste of Spain

Sunday brought round for Steph and I our weekly jaunt to the Stockbridge farmers market, although we had been resolved to the idea of walking as part of our healthy January the sight of the snow quickly lead to a strategic decision to get the bus instead, an afternoon gym session that lay ahead justified this to us easily.

With it being still the start of the year not all of the producers are back from their well earned breaks but the stalls still hold a wealth of fantastic produce. The Stockbridge Market does lack one thing to my mind, a true Scottish seafood stall, Ridleys Fish & Game however hailing from Northumbria more than make up for this shortfall as I have said before. Their game selection as I have also said before is superb and this week we decided to go for a selection of their seafood.

With funds tight in January we had decided dinner had to incorporate the king prawns we had at home but we still wanted something a little special to beat the Sunday blues. A seafood paella was agreed upon, from the good people at Ridleys I got 4 langoustine, a piece of monkfish, a few handfulls of mussels and a squid.

To prepare dinner I started by cooking the langoustine in my pan with a little oil for 3/4minutes, letting them cool and then removing them from their shells, I then cooked the prawns and medallions of monkfish in the same pan and left to one side. Using the same pan I added oil, the langoustine shells and a combo of thyme, sweet and hot paprika and a little cayenne. I fried off the shells then added half a glass of dry white wine and reduced then half a pint of water. This will make a brilliant stock for later.

I cooked off the stock for 15 minutes then strained into a jug, I added boiling water until I had a pint of liquid. Back to our pan and in went 2 cloves of garlic, 1 red pepper, 1 yellow pepper and one onion with some oil. Cook till soft. Now add thyme as well as sweet and hot paprika, a large teaspoon of each. Fry for 1-2 minutes and then add your arborio rice. I used a mug full. Fry the rice for 2-3 minutes mixing well. To loosen the mixture add some of your fish stock and add a teaspoon of saffron, now put in a tin of chopped tomatoes and 2/3 of your fish stock. Put the heat to simmer, try not to stir at this point and let the rice cook and soften. After 10 minutes check the rices progress and add more stock if required.

Check the rice and taste your sauce, season as required. If your rice is cooked it time to get your seafood in. I started with the mussels, burying them throughout the pan – in the pan they will take 5-6 minutes to cook sufficiently. Shortly after I added the rings of squid then monkfish and finally the prawns. Mix well ensuring even coverage of your fish across the pan. Season with lemon juice and parsley and you are almost ready to serve. To finish I took a separate pan and with a little oil finished off the langoustine, these are too precious to be mixed in and once cooked I added to the plate once the paella was dished out :)!


What you have is a delicious meal using some of the best of Scottish seafood with a real taste of summer that will warm you on even the coldest of nights. Seafood paella is highly Jd Recommended.


Homemade Winter Soup

With the snow on the way I decided that some homemade soup was on the cards and what could be better than a ham hock lentil soup. This called for a visit to my local butcher in Bruntsfield, W.M. Christie, this a family business that turnout quality produce. I truly the believe the key to a rustic and simple dish like is using the best ingredients and you don't get better hock than this beaut.

The smell this ham hock was immense, to get a product like this for £3.70 is right up my street. To start I took my stock pot and filled it 2/3 with cold water, added salt and brought to the boil. Once it was boiling I added the hock along with 4 sage leaves, a sprig of thyme and 2 garlic cloves. Then left it for 90 minutes.

In the meantime I chopped a turnip, 2 carrots and a large parsnip. After the 90 minutes I took the meat off the bone and took removed the outer skin. The bone then went back in the stock and I reduced for another 20 minutes. The meat is then chopped down for adding later.


I then added a bag of red lentils and the veg and simmered for another hour. Stir every twenty minutes or so to make sure the lentils don't catch to the bottom. 10 minutes from the end add the ham back in and season to taste. I added fresh thyme for additional flavour.

I served it with some sour dough bread from Falkos, delish and very warming. Winter soup = highly Jd Recommended!


Bon Appetit!

Edinburgh is now blessed with bistros and restaurants providing the best in world cuisine, from Italian to Chinese, Kurdish to Mongolian we have it all. My favourite however still has to be French, from classic Escoffier to the more rustic I love the way in which they seem to be able to celebrate produce.

After a walk to the Castle Terrace Famers Market Steph and I decided that lunch out would be a nice reward for our newfound healthy lifestyle and gym going. In search of reasonably priced and yet reasonably healthy food we came across L'escagot Blanc. With 2 mains for £10.90 this was ideal for us.

Once you have a chance to sit down and take in your surroundings you are taken by the charming, rustic French decor. All of the staff are French and greet you in their mother tongue, something which I love. Steph pointed out the staff don't wear uniforms, something which we both agreed added a homely feel we loved.

To the food, after some deliberation I opted for the warm fish terrine and Steph the homemade rillette with gherkins. My terrine was fantastic, the flavour was very well measured and the texture soft. I can't say I have had many fish terrines in my life but this was certainly the best. It came with a crayfish sauce that set it off brilliantly. Stephs rillette was also lovely, but I was happy with my choice :). The rillette was served with a jar of gherkins so you could have as many as you would like or not as it were.

For our mains I chose the Lyon Saucisson with puy lentils and Steph had the Fish of the Day which was pike. My dish came to the table in a pot and was served by the waitress, great restaurant theatre. What made this even better was that there were seconds to be had in the pot.


As the manager said to us on the way out their food is what great French food is all about, simplicity and great flavour. The sausage and lentils went brilliantly together and the qaulity of the sausage was great. Just one of those dishes that make you go YUMMMM.


Stephs pike was equally impressive, so gently cooked the flavour was tremendous. Soft soft fish with a tomato sauce, it worked well. Again simple and delicious. There can't have been many more than five ingredients in either dish but both were so tasty.

In the end we were both delighted with the meal and for such a low price it was a very worth while venture. We will be back. A trips to L'escargot Blanc comes highly JD Recommended


Healthy 2013 let’s go!

So 2013 is here now and I have decided that its time to get healthy again, since being hit by a car exercise has well been limited to non existent. So as well as doing the Cancer Research Dryathlon Steph and I thought well let's get to the gym and get eating healthier. Over the next few weeks I will post a few of the meals we have a long the way.

In replacing some of the more common staples I know couscous is going to become a close friend of mine. For this meal I roasted some root veg added lemon juice then mixed into the prepared couscous. Served that with some spiced chicken and asparagus. I love yogurt spiced chicken but to be healthy I used low fat Creme fraiche. Little asparagus and it worked well.

For tonight's meal I used some cracking trout from the freezer that I bought before Christmas. Once defrosted I made a paste of chilli, lemongrass, garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, coriander, ginger and sea salt. Once formed I coated the trout and left to marinate. In the meantime I prepared red pepper and carrot for a noodle salad. I went for vermicelli as I love the texture they keep once cooked. I cooked the trout in parchment on a bed of onions for 15 minutes at 180 degrees. It came out moist and delicious.

So far so good on the healthy eating express :)!

5th January

So today we had some veal from the fantastic Peelham Farm. Tonight's chef was my lovely Steph, she cooked the veal in a herb citrus sauce and served with asparagus and spinach. Delicious 🙂