Wednesday, March 11, 2009

HAGGIS!! Or: Don't Think, Just Eat.

The Bald Guy and I enjoyed a short vacation to Edinburgh, Scotland this weekend to celebrate our one-year anniversary. We had a grand time poking around the back alleys of the Old Town, getting lost at Edinburgh Castle, marveling at Early European Masters at the National Gallery, and getting goosebumps during the ghost tour of Greyfriars Kirkyard. But by far the most fun we had was eating (and drinking) our way across Edinburgh, one bistro at a time.

We can certainly recommend the following restaurants:
Hanam's Kurdish/Middle Eastern Restaurant (
Try the bayengaan - Slow roasted baby aubergines, stuffed with rice, yoghurt & traditional spices. We also had the lamb tashreeb and the qaysi. But save room for dessert! My favorite was the saffron and cardamom ice cream. The Bald Guy didn't like it as much as I did, but then, I'm kind of a cardamom nut. It was delicious! And the whole meal came out fairly cheaply without alcohol.

Maxie's Bistro & Wine Bar (
Conveniently located right next to Hanam's, just off the Royal Mile near the Castle. Funky cellar bistro with great atmosphere - candlelight, Art Deco-style painted glass, pillows strewn about. The proprieter was very attentive, although we did have to go up to the bar to order. The port and honey was a good choice, considering the blustery day. The duck and mango salad were good, as was the lentil soup; my avocado and bacon salad was delicious (but then, I think anything with bacon is great), except for the liberal use of white onions and iceberg lettuce. Ick. The dessert, however, made up for it - rich, thick chocolate cake a la mode, with a fudge sauce over it. Prices were reasonable.

Vittoria's Restaurant On the Bridge (
We were blown in here late after our ghost tour by a gale-force wind accompanied by driving needles of icy rain that was threatening to knock us off our feet. I may be impressed with the eateries of Edinburgh, but it can keep its bloody weather, thanks. A good restaurant with a moderate chain feel. I had the squid ink pasta with seafood, and it was very good. The Bald Guy enjoyed his beef stroganoff - it didn't look like the typical stroganoff my mother used to make, with its primary ingredient of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup (thank the jebus). A good wine recommendation of a very dry pinot grigio from our Italian waitress definitely prepared me to face the blustery evening again. There were at least 3 Italian families dining there (judging by overheard snippets of conversation and using the 3 nanoseconds of Italian classes I slept through in college), which, for an Italian restaurant, I'd take as a positive sign.

The Halfway House (
Voted Scotland's Pub of the Year in 2005, and self-proclaimed Edinburgh's Smallest (and Friendliest) Pub, the Halfway House is tucked away in an alley between Market Street and the Royal Mile, a little gem hidden from tourists. We didn't eat there, but we did enjoy a beverage; I had the Talisker single malt whisky 18 Year(very peaty and smoky), and the BG nursed a pint of some dark bitter brew that he loved. Definitely worth a stop-in (if it's not too crowded - there aren't very many seats available!)

The Doric Tavern (
We ate here for our one-year anniversary dinner. Probably the best restaurant we had the opportunity to visit on this trip. The bistro (or "gastropub") is upstairs. Nina Simone was on the stereo. There was only one other table occupied (it was a rainy Sunday evening). We ordered a bottle of pinot noir, which, given our criteria of "second cheapest on the menu," didn't surprise us with its mediocrity - but we still managed to finish the bottle. Our appetizer was HAGGIS! Actually, it was baked haggis filo parcels with plum sauce, which has quickly become the Edinburgh signature dish. It was originally created by Stac Polly, a fine Edinburgh restaurant institution (that we didn't get to because it's closed on Sundays, sigh). I was glad to see it on the menu at the Doric as well. If you're curious, the recipe can be found here: from Cooking the Books, a foodie blog by a Londoner named Joshua. The rest of the food was delicious (including the made-in-house vanilla & apricot cheesecake). We probably shelled out a little more than our other dinners, but we did split a bottle of wine, and the service, presentation, flavour and atmosphere made it all worth it.

1 comment:

  1. Happy Anniversary to you and the bald guy! :)