Review: La Favorita Delivered, Edinburgh

It has never crossed my mind to review a takeaway, but after ordering from La Favorita I had to share. Mounting deadlines and an increasing workload are my usual excuses to order takeaway – more often than not something I regret! This time was different.

La Favorita (part of the family owned Vittoria Group) is a famed log-fired pizza restaurant which is very popular in the capital. Although I have never dined in the restaurant (at Leith Walk) I sampled their delicious pizzas at a music festival – freshly prepared and cooked in their converted van! When I heard they were doing home delivery I jumped at the chance!

A scaled down ‘courier friendly’ version of their restaurant menu offers a great selection of starters (hot and cold), pizza, pasta and homemade desserts. Their fantastic website offers a pre-order facility – which I would recommend using as I hear things can get pretty busy.

Pizza Zia Rosa

Pizza Zia Rosa. A beautifully crisp base, impossibly thin in the middle with a slight chew – just as it should be. A classic topping of tomato, mozzarella, roasted chicken, sweet italian peppers and cherry tomatoes. The pizza was delicious – just as I remembered it. Fresh and surprisingly light.

Arancini di Rosa

Arancini di Rosa – crisp risotto balls filled with mincemeat, mozzarella and tomato. Crispy and delicious with a deep, rich flavour. A serving of two is a meal in itself, but perfect for two as a starter.

La Favorita has changed my opinion of takeaways. Deliciously fresh food delivered straight to your door (and on time) – there is little more you could wish for! For those lazy nights, La Favorita is my new takeaway of choice.

La Favorita Delivered

lafavoritadelivered.com

Food (For two): £18.90 (Inc £2 Delivery)

Recommended: Yes

Review: Jamie’s Italian, Edinburgh

I have long been a fan of Jamie Oliver and admire what he has done for the home cook. Many young cooks owe a great debt to Oliver for introducing them to the world of cooking. His chain of casual italian diners, Jamie’s Italian, has been a runaway success – with 30 restaurants in the UK and 5 further afield.

Jamie’s Italian has recently opened a branch in Edinburgh. Located in the historic Assembly Rooms, a recent refit has turned what was once wasted space into a chintzy, rustic dining space with a suitable smattering of bistro marble and tiles. Split over three levels, the large restaurant features open antipasti and finishing kitchens. The space was packed to the rafters on a Friday lunchtime, so be sure to make a reservation or get in early.

Service was well-informed and friendly, if a little cliché. In line with Jamie Oliver’s style of cooking the menu was rustic with a myriad of options. The food ethos was most definitely modern italian – sharing planks to start, homemade pastas and italian classics.

Crispy Squid

Crispy Squid was good. The batter was light and crisp and the accompanying sauce had a nice kick of mustard. Sliced chilli and fresh lemon helped to liven things up.

Chestnut Mushrooms

Baked Chestnut Mushrooms were served in a thin bread dough – crisp on the out, soft underneath. A great idea for a vessel to hold the mushrooms whilst giving it more body. The cheese scattered and melted on top could have been a little stronger and more mushrooms wouldn’t have gone a miss. This needed a big crack of black pepper to bring it alive.

Turkey Milanese

Turkey Milanese stuffed with Prosciutto with Fried Egg, Shaved Truffle and Pea Shoots. I adore traditional Veal Milanese – it is one of my favourite dishes. Unfortunately, this Milanese failed to live up to expectations. Despite being mammoth, the turkey escalope was a tad tough and the dubbed prosciutto failed to shine through. The fried egg was a pleasant addition as was the truffle – which did not overpower. More pea shoots and fresh lemon would not have gone amiss. My biggest gripe, however, was the lack of seasoning. The dish (apart from the truffle) was bland – which is a great shame because the pairing of the egg and truffle with the escalope is a fantastic idea.

Polenta Chips

‘Famous’ Polenta Chips were adorned with rosemary and parmesan. Beautifully crisp, the interior was nice and fluffy. Unfortunately someone had been too stingy with the salt.

Burger

The Jamie’s Italian Burger contained a mixture of chuck and flank steak – served with smoked mozzarella, mortadella, onions and chillies. The burger itself was well-flavoured and nicely chargrilled. The texture was dry but passable when combined with the other ingredients – some form of sauce or mayonnaise would have helped.

‘Posh’ Chips

A side of Posh Chips were ordered for the burger. Served with parmesan and truffle oil – the latter ingredient was mysteriously absent. The chips were a big letdown. Undercooked and soggy, they had managed to soak up much of the cooking fat without turning remotely crisp.

The style of food served at Jamie’s Italian is sure to please the majority of palates. Rustic and comforting, the dishes sound fantastic on paper but unfortunately fail to truly deliver on flavour. Under seasoning was the primary culprit for blandness on my visit – as the quality and combination of ingredients were good. A lively atmosphere and pleasing food is great for a quick lunch. However, I am unsure I would trust Jamie’s Italian for supper just yet.

Jamie’s Italian, Edinburgh

www.jamieoliver.com/italian/edinburgh

Food (For Two): £40

Dress Code: Casual

Reservations: Recommended

Recommended: For a casual lunch

Review: The Gardener’s Cottage, Edinburgh

 

I have been itching to visit The Gardener’s Cottage since its opening in June. My less than subtle hints finally paid off – my friends kindly treated me to birthday brunch this afternoon!

Nestled in Royal Terrace Gardens, the cottage is co-owned by chefs Dale Mailley and Edward Murray, who both have  commendable and illustrious backgrounds. First impressions don’t get much better – the quaint listed cottage is flanked by rows of fresh herbs and vegetables. Inside is a true treasure – diners are communally seated at great wooden tables in two small dining rooms, the room on the left commanding a front row view of the small kitchen. Decor is simple and charming.

Great emphasis is placed on integrity and quality of ingredients – the simple but satisfying cooking reflecting this ethos. The restaurant operates a daily changing set menu for lunch and dinner, with a limited choice for brunch.

Homemade Tagliatelle with Black Pudding and Walnuts was delicious. The pasta beautifully light (no mean feat) and the crumbled black pudding not overpowering. The wonderful flavour of charred walnuts was joined by the faintest whiff of leek.

 

Dressed crab was traditional and simple but satisfying – save for the few pieces of shell astray in the fresh meat. The quality of crab was second to none, gloriously sweet. Perhaps this would have benefitted from a big chunk of the lovely bread I spied in the kitchen. Mutton stew was equally as good.

Pear tartlet with cinnamon custard was light – the pastry perfectly thin and crisp. A touch more cinnamon wouldn’t have gone a miss.

The Gardener’s Cottage is refreshingly simple. The service informal and the food satisfying. Expert sourcing of the best ingredients is commendable and should be highlighted on the menus. Communal dining may not be for everyone but it is perfectly suited to the small and relaxed space. The Gardener’s Cottage is a welcome addition to a city with a glut of pretentious restaurants. For a comforting lunch or supper, you would be hard pressed to find much better in the Capital.

The Gardener’s Cottage

www.thegardenerscottage.co

Dress Code: Casual

Reservations: Recommended

Recommend: Yes

Review: Rhubarb Restaurant, Prestonfield Hotel, Edinburgh

If you are ever in Edinburgh and in need of a place to stay, please, please book a night at the Prestonfield Hotel. Close to the city centre, the Prestonfield is a grand baroque house set in beautiful gardens. It is by far the most opulent hotel I have ever had the privilege of staying in. The bedrooms and formal rooms are effortlessly elegant with a mismatch of beautiful antique furniture and tapestries.

I have stayed in the Prestonfield a few times over the years; however, it has been a while since I have had dinner in the hotel’s Rhubarb Restaurant (Prestonfield was the first estate in Scotland to cultivate rhubarb). It seemed fitting that we gave it another try when we were staying at the hotel. Rhubarb has 2 AA rosettes.

The restaurant is split over two near identical dining rooms where beautifully laid tables are lit by candlelight. Lacking atmosphere it most certainly is not. The service in the hotel and in the restaurant is truly first class. Attentive and friendly, it makes for a better dining experience than many Michelin starred establishments offer.

Rabbit & Foie Gras

Rabbit & Foie Gras ballotine was paired with pistachios and apricots. A great deal of work had clearly gone into the preparation of the ballotine – the foie gras was silky smooth and the rabbit remained moist. The accompanying apricot was a little overpowering but pistachio gave a good balance of texture. Brioche crumbs were scattered on top – I can’t help but feeling It would have been nicer to have had a big hunk of brioche on the side.

Scallops

King scallops came perfectly cooked. Apple cubes provided good contrast for the silky cauliflower purée. Lemon and chorizo were the star of the show, lifting the dish and giving much-needed acidity. This was a very satisfying dish.

Starters of Cheddar with Beetroot and Prawns with Lobster were also well cooked and tasty. The only criticism being the inclusion of basil with the Cheddar and Beetroot which proved to be overpowering.

Venison

Loin of red deer was nicely cooked but over-seasoned which was disappointing as the accompanying mustard mash and red cabbage purée were delicious. On the side was a black pudding ‘crumble’, a brilliant idea. The texture of the topping was just right and the black pudding added richness to the dish. However, this too was over-seasoned leaving us stretching for the water glasses.

Black Pudding Crumble

Two of us shared a Chateaubriand with béarnaise sauce and Madeira jus. The beef was cooked to a perfect medium rare and the béarnaise was delicious – not too thick and with a nice vinegar kick. This was served with a vast array of side dishes; another sauce (cheese I think), broccoli (a tad undercooked), dauphinoise potatoes, tomatoes (very acidic) and potato croquette/dumpling. The dumpling was amazing, very light. I was left a little overwhelmed by the quantity of food. It may have been more effective (and no doubt easier for the kitchen) to serve maybe one potato dish, two vegetables and one sauce and forget the rest.

Chocolate & Cherries

Descriptions of the puddings were a little try-hard – with gels, mousses and pastes cropping up in numerous guises. Of the two deserts we tried only one is worthy of note – chocolate and cherries with star anise ice cream. Chocolate ‘teacake’ containing an acidic cherry compote was delicious as were the small tuiles surrounding the ice cream. The star anise ice cream was a little overpowering and icy – it would have been nicer if flavoured with cinnamon.

The food was of a high standard and more than worthy of its 2 rosette accreditation. Perhaps if some of the food was simplified a little it would allow for a purer and more effective flavour to shine through. However, dining in such exquisite surroundings with perfect service, you can’t help but be impressed.

Rhubarb Restaurant, Prestonfield Hotel

http://www.prestonfield.com

Food (For Four): £220

Dress Code: Smart Casual

Reservations: Recommended

Recommend: Yes