French & Affordable – The Balcon @ Pall Mall

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Hi everyone, finally back to blogging and now a London resident. To say the options here are endless is an understatement, but I will give it my best.

Well then…..hello!! Found the Balcon on OpenTable with a cracking sounding deal of 3 courses for £23. When looking for a meal on a Saturday in London this ticket all the boxes.

Located on Pall Mall this was my first trip to this part of town, the resteraunt is beaififul as are the surrounding buildings. Having arrived a little early the maître de happily welcomed up and sat us.

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With the deal you could chosese a starter from their “small plates’ menu which is different to their starts menu…anyway….then a main from a choice of three on the market menu and any of their deserts.

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Mum and I discussed some tactical odering and went for the brevette steak tartar and the foie gras terrine. Oh my these were unbeleivably good. The foie gras was insane…..so so so so so so GOOD! Mum and I have had our fair share of their controversial delicasy and both agreed this was excellent. I sort of felt sorry for the tartar, it was brilliant just out gunned. Great start to the meal.

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For the main I went pork fillet and mum went salmon. The pork as an overall dish was great, the meat for me was a little overdone, I like my pork fillet to be slightly pink. I really am just trying to pick fault there thoufg. I tried the salmon and again a great dish and very enjoyable.

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For desert I went fot the profiteroles – Mum just for a change went cheese. I was a little diappointed here…these were not profiteroles, they were overcook schoux pastry cut in half and stacked with a scoop of vailla icecream. The cheese was great but really thats hard to get wrong.

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For wine we went for the house Rothschild Viogner, at £27 not cheap but a great accompaniment to our meal.

The Balcon comes Highly Jd Recommended!

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Leaving Edinburgh – Hello London

2 weeks from now I will leave Edinburgh on a train for London to start a whole new chapter of my life. Edinburgh has given me 7 of the best years I could ever have hoped for.

When I moved here aged 23, I knew what love was, I knew who I was going to be, I knew what I wanted my career to be and I knew who I would spend the rest of my life with.

I’m 30 now, I’m not sure what love is, I don’t know what I will do with the rest of my life, I don’t know who I will spend my life with….

But…..I now know who I am, I know I deserve someone who makes me happy and that I in turn can make happy, I know that a job is only a pay cheque and that happiness comes from the people around you.

I guess in summary I came to Edinburgh as a boy and I leave as a man. I’ve made mistakes, you all know that, most I’ve learned from, some I’m still trying to understand. I’ve been lucky that true friends have forgiven me when I have taken a wrong turn or listened to the wrong advice.

In the words of A.A.Milne, “how lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard

“!!

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My 30th – part 2 – Cancer- This Time It’s Personal

So….. I now have a date for the party – the 17th of May. I almost have a venue sorted, nice and central within Edinburgh.

Now to the fundraising. I’m thinking a silent auction and a high value raffle in the night. To this end I need prizes, remembering this is all for Cancer Research and The Teenage Cancer Trust who can help?

To celebrate the end of my 20s and still being here for them given I was told I had six months to live when I was 20 thanks to cancer I’m hoping some good people out there can support me!

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UPDATE

Thanks so far to the following for donating prizes:

Mark Greenway & Bistro Moderne
Cafe St Honore
Purslane
Dalmahoy
Angels with Bagpipes
British Airways
Tigerlily & Lulu
21212
L’escargot Bleu & L’art du Vin
Gusto
Edinburgh Larder Bistro
Hotel Du Vin
de Burgh Wines
Edinburgh Cookery School

Shin of Beef – A Winter Treat

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Back to the Burgh and all of a sudden Christmas and the festive season is over, I find myself wanting to eat some proper comfort food. Having a chat with Fred from L’Escargot he was talking to me about the essence of what’s important in food. The main thing being taste……simplicity and making the best of a great ingredient. When you’re at the farmers market this makes even more sense.

So with all of this in mind I got a great selection of produce from the market and went off home to create something.

Starting with shin of beef, beef stock, onions, mushrooms, maris pipers, smoked butter, thyme and streaky bacon. Using a base of diced carrots and celery I was good to go.

With the beef I took the meat from the bone and removed the marrow from the centre. Dredging the cubed meat in the flower I seared it in the pan. Adding some oil to the same pan I sautéed the onions, bacon, cubed bone marrow, celery, carrots and some garlic in the pan. Once soft I added mushrooms and after a minute put in 2 large glass of wine.

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Using the wine to deglaze the pan I then put back the beef, added a pint of stock as seasoned with salt, pepper and thyme. Then left on a low heat for 90 minutes it makes for a relaxing Sunday.

To go along wither beef I made a nice buttery mash, for something a little different I added some smoked butter. The smokeyness worked really well with the beef and make for a satisfying Sunday meal.

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Simple flavours, local ingredients……bit of love and care to create a delicious meal! Shopping and living by the ways of the farmers market comes highly Jd Recommended :0)

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Have a Very Merry Galvin Christmas

Take a bow chaps…..you deserve it. Since announcing their intention to make a move to Edinburgh the Galvin Brothers have gone straight at it with a drive and determination that seems sure to land them their latest Michelin star for the fine dining restaurant The Pompadour by Galvin.

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With the Brasserie and the Pompadour nestled within the newly refurbished Caley Hotel or as they like to call it The Caledonian, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel, they have brought the city centre standard up a notch. Now in Scotland we are well known for liking what we know – we are inherently scared/challenged by things/people we don’t know. Enter stage left Executive Chef Craig Sandle once of the Balmoral, take that and the experience of the Galvin borthers and wow. If ever there was a Fantasy Football style pairing to open a restaurant in Scotland who understand the clientele this is it.

So being the resident foodie in my office I was tasked with organising the works Christmas party, now when I think of any menu that’s starts Christmas or Festive it invariably means the usual pre-theatre or *cough* ‘market menu’ *cough* bumped up in price with a turkey dish added and an extra £10 on the price.

Not so here, for a very reasonable £24 you could enjoy a lovely 3 course menu. For me as soon as I read the menu there could only be one choice for starter, Foie Gras Parfait, Pear and Raisin Chutney, Toasted Sour Dough. Hmmmmm. As soon as I read Foie Gras I am sold! This dish was light, rich and indulgent all in one. With the stunning presentation it was a great way to start the meal.

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For mains I went for the Confit Chicken Leg, Brussel Sprouts, Bacon and Chestnuts, Pomme Mousseline. Soft, succulent chicken, salty bacon, woody chestnuts……butter mash…..what man wouldn’t love this dish! In fact no foodie wouldn’t love this dish. A real alternative Christmas dinner with some wonderful winter flavours.

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To finish…yet more wonderful indulgence. Baked Banana Parfait, Dark Chocolate Crémeux. The parfait was so light and still packed with so much flavour – with the dark chocolate setting it off worked perfectly.

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Added to this we have a few bottles of a lovely Cote du Rhone making a perfect foodie Christmas meal. The staff, the service, the food….all top notch. The Galvins have added a real touch of class to our city and long may it continue.

The Galvin Brasserie de Luxe comes highly JD Recommended

Cafe St Honore – a Taste of Scotland’s Larder

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Cafe St Honore, it’s been on the bucket list for a long time so was delighted to have an excuse to visit this week with a few friends. Chef Neil Forbes has established himself as one of the countries top chefs, known from local produce and sustainability. From Slow Food to the Sustainability Restaurant Association he has been a vocal advocate of all that’s good about Scottish food right now.

The setting feels like a village bistro is the Loire valley, the service is attentive but relaxed and the wine list is balanced from affordable to the slightly more extravagant.

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The Cafe have a Classics menu which changes on a seasonal basis and it’s has to be said it really is a delight. At £18 for two courses or 3 courses for £23.50 available all night it’s also a bargain.

For my starter I opted for the hot smoked mackerel salad. I am a fan of all things smoked it has to be said but this salad was so light and the fish was delicious. The balance of the flavours with the peppery rocket was well…..nom!! Not the most eloquent word but you get it.

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For main I went for a superb dish of plaice, one of my favourite fishes to find it on a menu for this price was a lovely surprise. Served on creamed leeks with a potato rosti and bacon the balance was as you would expect from this chef just right!!

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The other main on the menu which I tried and loved so felt I had to share was a venison cottage pie. Tradition with innovation and local produce…..for me that sums up this place.

I am for sure going to come back and try the a la carte but for now I will just reminisce and enjoy the memory of my lovely meal.

In the end Cafe St Honore come Highly JD Recommended!

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Three Birds Are Better Than One

So to the Three Birds, came here for a friends birthday with a very food savvy crowd of people, mainly waiters and waitresses from some of Edinburghs best eateries and I think I can say we all left very impressed with what we found.

Before starters we also had a plate of the Crispy Pig Ears, yep thats no typo…pigs ear. And im happy to report they were delicious served with a nice aioli and sea salt.

For starter I opted for the pigeon breast on a bed of peas and pine nuts. Simple cooking and really delicious. The pigeon was pink, juicy and so tender. Winter might be coming but at least that means game birds are back on the menu yuuuum!!

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For main out of a table of 14, 11 of us went for the same thing!!! The steak special cooked in a bone marrow butter. OH LORD……. I had mine rare and as well as being perfectly cooked the flavour was incredible. The marrow flavour was there to be enjoyed. Superb. The meat was tender, juicy and with the flavour of the bone marrow it was a real treat. Is it Unami the Japanese talk about? I’m not sure…..:but this steak…..this had it all!

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Deserb, a mango sponge with vanilla icecream. i also tried the blue cheese icrecream and the cheese board with my dining chums! All lovely!!!

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The service, the wine, the evening…..lovely place…..lovely food! Cant wait to go back!! As sad as I was to see le Moutin Noir go these guys have taken up the mantle admirably and without doubt will continue to grow a loyal and regular customer base.

The Three Birds comes Highly Jd Recommended!!!