20 September 2016

Review: The Horseshoe Restaurant with Rooms, Eddleston, Peebles

WE SEEMED TO hit every traffic light from Newhaven to Sir Harry Lauder Road as we journeyed south towards The Horseshoe.  I cannot stand others' lateness, particularly when it comes to eating arrangements, so I was slightly embarrassed to call ahead and advise of our unfortunate delay.

This unassuming restaurant  with rooms is situated 17 miles from Edinburgh city centre, just outside of Peebles (Eddleston to be exact). I knew very little about it, bar the odd comment that “it has a good reputation” and held two AA Rosettes. After a torrid hour-and-a-half trek I was in need of a glass of wine, never mind a three-course lunch. Let’s hope that those earlier comments were accurate.

We sat in the lounge peering out of a Hobbit-esque porthole as we ordered and enjoyed a delicious pair of appetisers in the form of pickled turnip with mushroom ketchup and fresh cheese curds with beetroot.  I instantly liked the style and character of the restaurant.  It dates back to 1862 and you get the feeling that the walls could tell stories of memorable dinners here throughout the years. The lunch menu is a 3-3-3 affair priced at £20 for two courses or £25 for three and always feature a roast on Sundays.

I was handed a rather weighty wine list that instantly impressed me in both its detail and selection of organic and bio-dynamic wines. You sadly don’t see enough in restaurants. The wines menu was crafted by Mark Slaney who happen to be the General Manager of this establishment, as well as a published wine expert.

A chat with the Maître d’ led to a glass of a rather special Albarino (2014) “Contrapulto” from Rias Baixas, Spain being ordered. It had a stunning colour and texture to it with fruity notes and a hint of lemon. Its richness meant that it was the perfect sipping wine and I reckoned it would pair very well with the seafood dishes I was about to tackle.

My starter was an eye-pleasing bowl of smoked pancetta, clams, coco beans and chorizo.  It had a wonderful aroma to it. I delved in to find a slight bite to the beans and a rather opulent sauce-come-soup in the bottom that had a welcome smack of salt and smoke from the pancetta.  The clams were grit-free, thankfully, and melted in the mouth along with little morsels of squid that graced the plate with a hint of the sea.  There was no chorizo as billed, but I didn’t miss it; the pancetta flavour was more than enough.

Sarah elected to try the pressed pork terrine with sour cherries, cashew nuts, chutney and chicory.  Serving temperature can often be an issue with terrines but this one had been allowed to come to room temperature before leaving the kitchen.  It was moist and properly set with crunch from the nuts speckled throughout.  The apple chutney sliced through the fattiness while the chicory brought contrasting bitter notes, as well as texture. An earthy sweetness was chaperoned in by some courgette ribbons but the best thing about it was the cherries. They weren’t overly sour but really harmonised with the other tones of flavour.

I fancied the roast but for reviewing purposes had to go for the hake with a crispy fish cake, broccoli and mussels since Sarah won the toss.  I say that like it was a chore - it wasn’t at all.  The fish was beautifully cooked, crisp skin and all.  The tasty flakes of hake marvelled in the puddle of juices at the bottom of the bowl where it gleefully played around with some tender shallot rings cooked well enough to still bring bite to the dish.  The lemon flavour from the fish cake was what really brought this dish to life; its prominence was admirable and even complemented the expertly executed broccoli stems.  Sweet mussels were a little bonus on what was a very accomplished piece of cookery.

It would have to be a spectacular roast to top that main course and it was as equally superb.  The sirloin of borders beef yielded with little resistance. The Litmus test for a great roast is in the spuds for me, but this attempt was spot on – crisp exteriors and fluffy interiors all round.  A crunchy homemade Yorkshire pudding hit the brief but it was the medley of autumnal vegetables that made this dish memorable. The assertive, slight bitterness of the chard was met with sweet carrots and roasted beetroot, but those delectable onion petals were the real star for me.  The only quibble here was that Sarah felt the beetroot could have been slightly softer.

All good things must come to an end and my lunch concluded with an old-school vanilla rice pudding with poached apricots and apricot sorbet.  The key here was that the rice pudding wasn’t too sweet and the rice still had a presence.  It was creamy but with waves of vanilla tantalising the palette.  I got a flavour of cola bottles from somewhere that I really liked and the cold sorbet weighed in with a contrast in temperatures.

Cherry savarin with cherry sorbet, vanilla and fig was another pretty dish.  The savarin was moist and the different textures on the plate were a delight to eat.  Fig was the dominating flavour rather than the expected cherry but the combinations of the smooth sorbet and the cake, coupled with the vanilla cream, were divine.

This was one of the most enjoyable meals I’ve had this year. The consummate professionalism of the service, outstanding cooking and exemplary wine offerings coalesced to create a fine dining experience that not only ticked all the boxes but came at an extremely reasonable price to boot.

Web: http://www.horseshoeinn.co.uk/
Address: Eddleston, Peebles, EH45 8QP
Phone: (01721) 730 268
Twitter: @horsehoe_inn

Opening hours:

Weds-Sun 12:00 - 15:00 (lunch),
               19:00 - 21:00 (21:30 Saturday) (dinner)

Horseshoe Inn Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

7 September 2016

Do you have what it takes to be the next Chief Taster for Loch Fyne?


We're looking for a chief taster


Calling Britain's
Biggest Seafoodies!

Are you mad about monkfish, crazy for crayfish and a total looney for langoustines?

Do you fancy yourself as the next Jay Rayner or Deliciously Ella?
What about an all-expenses paid trip to Loch Fyne in the Scottish Highlands to sample some of Britain's most sumptuous shellfish?

Loch Fyne Seafood & Grill is looking for a "Chief Taster" to ensure we serve our guests only the most mouth-watering dishes. As the voice of the people, you will be an enthusiastic amateur foodie with talented taste-buds and a passion for seafood.

Role: Chief “sea-foodie” taster for Loch Fyne Seafood & Grill
Salary: Paid in exquisitely cooked fish and shellfish
Hours: Four exclusive tastings per year and time to produce interesting and engaging video reviews
Location: Your nearest Loch Fyne Seafood & Grill restaurant
Benefits: All expenses paid trip to Loch Fyne, Scotland, deliciously free seafood, a platform to kick start or boost your blogging career
Period: One year



Produce a video blog of why you could be Loch Fyne's Chief Taster

Post it on Instagram or the Loch Fyne Facebook page with the hashtags:
#LFchieftaster #LochFyne #seafoodie #food #yummy #foodie #delicious #seafood #fishforever

You could also post it on Twitter to @LochFyneUK with the hashtags:
#Lfchieftaster #LochFyne

Closing date for entries
30th September 2016

Six finalists will then be chosen.



If selected as a finalist:

• Attend your nearest Loch Fyne Seafood & Grill to do a tasting on the current spring/summer menu.

• Post your video review to Instagram with the hashtags:
#LFchieftaster #LochFyne #tasterfinalist #seafoodie #food #yummy #foodie #delicious #seafood #fishforever


If crowned Loch Fyne Chief Taster:

• Video your experience of an all-expenses paid trip to beautiful Loch Fyne in the Scottish Highlands where the original Loch Fyne restaurant sits on the loch.

• Provide video reviews of the preview night for Autumn/Winter menu on the 19th October 2016.

Key skills required:
• Excellent taste buds
• Ability to talk and write about eating a lot of delicious food
• Ability to film a lot of delicious food and talk about it to camera

Also desirable:
Easy access to a Loch Fyne Seafood & Grill restaurant

3 September 2016

Review: Badger & Co., Edinburgh

A BREAKFAST REVIEW was a first for me and I had heard positive things about Badger & Co. prior to this morning’s visit.  The Signature Pub Group spent a cool £1.35m to give this former office block on Castle Street a swank makeover, and first impressions suggested this was money well spent – but will the food live up to the smart interior design job?

The private dining room
This restaurant come bar (or bar come restaurant) pays homage to Kenneth Grahame, author of The Wind in the Willows, who was once housed here, and I’m fortunate enough to get the grand tour from a very professional and efficient waiter, Art.  The beer garden looks a tasty spot to sample a delightful cocktail list and I’m a little bit gutted that it’s only 10:00 a.m. Sampling will thus require another visit.  There is also a private dining space that Art explains can be used for parties, slightly more formal dinners, or even just to watch the footie on the big projector screen and drink a few beers with mates.  It’s a fun-looking space, indeed.

I believe Signature are Scotland’s only remaining independent pub chain and have added Badger & Co. to their other nearby ventures, Element and Copper Blossom, as well as their flagship venue, The Rutland Hotel to name but a few. I’ve always admired their interiors and this space has achieved a cool, spacious vibe that has been very tastefully constructed.  Without waffling on, this lot know what they’re doing. 

I chose ‘The Full Sett’ which came with a lofty price tag of £11, on par with my favourite breakfast spot,  Noble’s.  Expectations were high as a result, so it had better be up there.  What was essentially a full English arrived on a handsome plate sporting bacon from the Border’s, pork sausage, a fried duck egg, a roasted vine tomato, two Portobello mushrooms, toasted rye bread and the house baked beans.  The rich and creamy egg was expertly cooked and provided a fine sauce for the meaty components, both of which were of satisfying quality.  The ‘shrooms brought an earthy nuttiness and were perfectly cooked, while the tomato brought a slight acidity and freshness. The bread was delicious and I appreciated the pre-buttering.  The beans were the standout component for me; they needed a little salt but that tinge of paprika just elevated this from a very good breakfast to an outstanding one.  My only gripe was that the pretty plate wasn’t very practical when it came to eating from it, as it slid around the table when I tried to cut up.

Sarah decided to sample the beans on toast (£5.50) and added poached eggs and sausage for an extra £2 each.  “I don’t know who ended up getting the better end of the deal here, Phil”, proclaimed Art when he delivered our grub. I could see what he was getting at when Sarah’s mound of beans and mushrooms arrived on top of the toast, enhanced by a generous duo of duck eggs and a couple of bangers. £5.50 alone would have represented great value, such was the quality of the dish.  I’m not always mad on mushrooms but in this instance, they were very tasty and respectfully cooked. The extra add-ons created a huge portion that Sarah regretfully couldn’t finish... It would have been rude of me not to help her out in this task.

I couldn’t help but notice a pair of office workers at the table up from us compliment their breakfast and thank Art for his efforts – it’s important to see other diners receive the same high standard of cooking.

The bar was set high at the beginning of this meal but it was met in every way. The outstanding knowledge of the food and exemplary service was matched by excellent cooking and ingredients and, the surroundings were truly a comfy place to dine in. I think I’ll make dinner reservations …

Twitter: @badgerandco
Instagram: badger.co

Phone: (0131) 226 5430
Address: 32 Castle Street, Edinburgh, EH2 3HT

Opening hours: Mon-Sun 8 a.m. - 1 a.m.

Badger & Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato